Creepy Behaviour and the Advent of Spyware

I used to have a creepy ex-bf. An unpleasant character who always needed to be in control. One day I removed his power over me which directly led to a series of events involving him lying in wait for me, following me ‘in the bushes’* and hacking into my Hotmail account with my mother’s maiden name. I twigged on after he paid me a visit one evening, bringing up topic after topic of information he shouldn’t have known about my life.

Around about the same time, I found out that my boss was reading all the emails sent and received by the company (including my own, although he once asked me to monitor his emails, and must have removed mine temporarily from the list – thus giving me confidence to continue foolishly using the work email as if it was personal). He loved that he knew what everyone was doing and that they didn’t know.

That was 2003. Ten years on, with the successful advent of smartphones, there is a more sophisticated way to spy on your ex or your employees. Spyware on phones has a definition close to ‘does what it says on the tin’. It enables you, the psychopathic one, the voyeuristic or bullying boss, to spy on the mobile activities of the victim.

What’s even better, is that several of these apps are free. You don’t even need money to behave this way. A quick download and a couple of minutes with the victim’s phone and you can see call logs, messages, browsing history. Some programs (the paid ones probably) even let you listen to recorded calls.

Don’t worry, the usual standard of victim** won’t be able to find the identifying files left behind by the apps (although they’re not as invisible as the software companies say). There are only two ways you can be thwarted.

1. The victim can reset his/her phone to factory defaults. This doesn’t solve all spyware issues, but it does work for a majority.

2. The victim can download an app called Anti Spy Mobile FREE or any similar, and the app can then periodically scan the device, alert the victim if there is evidence of spyware on the phone, and assist in the removal of the software.

It doesn’t solve the problem as to why people behave in these liberty-denying, controlling ways, but it gives the victim a slight chance in a world where the odds are stacked in favour of the bullies. You don’t need evidence if you can deal with it yourself.

* as he told to a friend of mine.

**clue: don’t seek out a victim who is also an IT engineer.

Maximum Opinion

One of the lessons I’ve learned about writing in recent times (the last 6 months has been a knee knackering learning curve) is that you have to have an opinion. It’s no good seeing all sides of the argument, because it damages the impact of the writing. One-sided bloody-minded bias is where it’s at.

A nightmare if you’d rather not have any conflict in your life.

I certainly admire those who are completely honest about the way they think. Angie Max is one such person. The link is to her blog, but in the short time I have ‘known’ her on Facebook, I have been privy to quite alarming arguments coming at her from people she presumably knows. And all the time she offers calm and reasonable, contrary views to what is being put to her. And she doesn’t back down. Makes for some bated breath reading down the comments.

I am wistful that I should be able to write like that. I am after all, not without opinion. But there are boundaries preventing me from complete honesty, I’m sure it’s the same for anyone with a double life day job.

Spiritual Grumblings

It seems the type of fervour we’re accustomed to seeing between the world’s major religions (the politics it disguises to be set aside for now) is present in the rising alternative religions – even those whose proponents claim are not religions.

The major religions and some ‘alternative’ ones say that what they believe is correct and not only is everyone else wrong, they’re also either blasphemers, evildoers and deserving of death, or unenlightened. I realise these are horrible, sweeping generalisations, but it’s the general gist of the propaganda from all sides of our recent wars (I presume wars are really the product of politics and big business) and I have met plenty of individuals who say similar things.

On the other hand, spiritualists, pagans, and heathens sometimes say that he who is sure that he knows everything knows less than he who knows he knows nothing. But they can be as guilty as those others, for intimating that whatever you believe isn’t quite right.

I’ve noticed differing uses of language, and the subsequent discussions which stem from that: is God/Goddess the same thing as Source, or a lesser divine personification of Source? Is it one of many ascending hierarchies, (like angel, archangel, gods, Source?) or Source by another name?

The definitions are different for different groups: are elementals the mischievous spirits of house and home, or water, earth, fire and ether, traditionally depicted as imps and elves and fairies? Or are they mindless stupidness, messing with your stuff just to hear you twine? Tormenting you from another dimensional plane … It doesn’t matter, does it?

Whether they are irritating light-slaves, actual faery beings, or patches of localised energy to the person who is experiencing them, they have the same result: items disappear … reappear, doors slam, glasses break, moving furniture and more. You can ask them to stop or you can take no notice, whatever your definition for them.

Rituals are an awkward spot. Some people prefer ritual in some form or another; helps them get in the sacred space, make a big deal (on a small scale) of what they’re performing and why. Some prefer to work their minds only. I wonder if that is a difference between traditional definitions of witchcraft and sorcery.

As far as I know, both ritual and non-ritual methods work very well indeed, though I understand many spiritualists consider ritual unnecessary and even primitive; there is also a point where ritual can become numb (like saying a nursery rhyme, for example, without thinking about the meaning of what is being said). But still, if some people are most comfortable with it, who’s to say it’s wrong.

What’s wrong beyond negative thinking?

I love to discuss beliefs and spiritual experiences with people on the same learning level as me, but that’s as far as it goes. I don’t want to argue my case; I want to figure it out. Competition squashes my natural curiosity and that sense of being stifled is precisely the reason I have stayed away from religious groups since I left the Church of England.

I wholly believe that all roads lead to the same root. Or all roads stem from the same Source. All sections belong to the whole. Just like an onion. So really, it matters not who or what you worship, as long as you are putting something spiritual into the ether and manifesting positive experiences for the good of all.

If you aren’t able to produce real looking bubbles of energy or actually see angels around you, fear not, you haven’t failed. It doesn’t make you less gifted. There are other ways to access the world as a whole onion.

Haves and Have Nots

“The world is divided up into the Haves and the Have Nots.”

Did the person* who thought up that gem consider that the have nots might not want it? Or may not know if they want it? I know, too many italics already.

The question is, how do you know if you want something if you never had it? (I need both ‘ifs’ in there.)

I Have Not got a TV. Unbelievable though the TV licensing people seem to find it, I do not have a television. I have had a TV in the past but my attitude is ambivalent. Although there are some amazing programmes, I am a lazy viewer, inclined to get locked into trash series when left to myself. Same viewing every week, you know the score. Why pay £145 a year for the privilege of smothering the time I call my life with full time entertainment? I have too much to do.

I know what it is and I choose not to have it. Sure, I miss it sometimes, but I don’t care about it.

Something else I don’t have: a high-flying job. I honestly think I’m not mature enough to keep one. My attempts to hold down a full time, well paid job, have mainly ended with the damned thing turning and attempting to strangle me. I don’t like them. They constrict me. They give me stresses and fears and worries that simply aren’t worth the money. And senior management always hate me.

Again, I can choose to Have Not. I have tried, test run and decided to pass on flying high. Instead I work part time in home care and am busy learning my trade as a writer. I am a have not in quite a few senses of the phrase, thanks to that particular little life change, but I can say it’s improved my life and given me new chances and choices. And I’m happier.

Now tell me this: here is a Have Not I know nothing about.

Why do people have children?

Answers below, please, I know most of you are parents.

* some philososopher/sociologist dude called Alinsky, apparently.

The Next Big Thing is Here! (finally)

The Next Big Thing is a many author blog hop, bringing attention to new authors and their works. Having agreed to take part when Johnny Worthen tagged me, I then forgot to post on the date I was meant to. My timekeeping is dreadful in every part of my life, I admit it.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

The idea to write a book came from a walk with my brother’s dog, Boy, along the edge of a quarry. What if there were some bodies in the rock? Autotherapy itself was story-driven. I wanted it to stand out and to be different from other tales, but I needed it to appeal to certain tastes so that it would sell.

Vampires have been popular for years and hit the mainstream in the early 2000s, so I went for that (also I live in quite a creepy town that lends itself to thoughts like that) as a theme. But I didn’t want it to just ‘be vampires’. I wanted to give it the terror of Dark without switching off readers who had more grounded expectations in a thriller. Everything that ever happens has a reason, so I gave (a hopefully believable) one to the vampirism in my story.

What genre does your book fall under?

It’s a thriller, but I always mention that it has shades of horror (in case someone is of a nervous disposition), though I don’t consider it to be horror. I think it sits in the horror category on Amazon, but it’s foremost a thriller. There’s a ticking clock.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I couldn’t answer this one without help. For the past four years, I haven’t been bombarded daily with images of famous people and their latest appearances or escapades. No TV. It’s my one woman crusade against the rising costs of the TV licence.

The Internet is my only source of information for famous people, so I have only one suggestion so far:

James Purefoy: Jake Campbell; handsome, but somehow blending in.

My characters are clear in my head; their appearance is integral to the way they behave, but I tend to limit their physical description, because I believe it should be up to the reader. I leave a few pointers, but I don’t overdo it.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Murderers can be victims too.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

My book was published by Rainstorm Press. I was lucky. I only sent my query to two online publishing houses. The first one said nice, helpful things, and the second was Rainstorm Press (who also said nice, helpful things!)

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

About 9 months in total. I kept having 3 month gaps, so it took over three years to complete, but only about 9 months for the first draft. I worked full time, so I had to use the rest of the time on the book. My family, boyfriend and friends needed me to take breaks.

Writing something this size for the first time was like the process of finding the best way across a swollen river with a lot of stepping stones to choose from. A lot of forward and back and sideways and violent wobbles. And fatalities. Some chapters never made it to the other side. Some characters didn’t.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I asked an old friend (far better read than me) what she thought. Her reply came back:

“The Silence of the Lambs (forensics, serial killer).
Return of the Native (importance of landscape to the story).
Dracula (just the Whitby bit!)
The Suspicions of Mr Whicher (police procedure).
Interview with the Vampire (the little girl).
In Cold Blood (the farm massacre, ‘documentary’ feel).”

Thank you, Charlotte Mottram.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Kirkby Stephen is a creepy little town at night and it gave me some great ideas which work well offset against the beautiful backdrop. I had an overwhelming conviction that I had to write a book now.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

All the major landmarks mentioned in Autotherapy are real but tampered with (I didn’t want to get into trouble and I didn’t know what would get me there, so I changed everything a little bit). Streets are mainly imagined, but with stolen names. The hills play themselves, but under different names, and the featured monuments have been altered in character as well as name. For anyone who knows the area a little, it’s easy to work out where I mean in most cases.  The landscape here in Eden has a presence. As it’s beaten by the wind and rain, it gives off a wild permanence and I tried to convey that throughout Autotherapy.

What is the working title of your next book?

CareWars. But that’s truly a working title.

Check out two more authors who really are the next big thing:

Erin Britt
Susan Dorsey