Monday, 3 September 2018

New Release Spotlight & Extract: Dating Down by Diane Louise

Dating Down by Diane Louise
Publication Date 30th August

Suddenly single and unexpectedly poor, it’s definitely safe to say that Alexis Harland is not living the life of her dreams.
Although she’s determined that nothing, not one little thing, will stop her return from poverty. Well, almost nothing. Her pride might get in the way a little. And possibly her family. And maybe the fact that she hasn’t got a clue where to start.
Many years ago, Alexis was swept away from life on a caravan park and introduced to a world of riches and glamour. All thanks to a wealthy man who married her, reinvented her… and then dumped her for a younger model at the first sign of cellulite.
Now Alexis is stranded, struggling to keep her head above water and her history a secret from her highbrow friends.
As if that isn’t enough for a woman to deal with, one night she comes home to find a sexy man has landed, quite literally, on her doorstep. A man hell-bent on testing everything Alexis thinks she knows about true happiness.
Caught between the life she knows and her blossoming love, can Alexis afford to let go of her unwavering pride, kiss her social status goodbye and accept that stepping back to square one is sometimes a huge leap forward?

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3 - How not to interview

“So, Alexis,” she raises her face to mine. “Tell me about yourself.”
I take a moment to read her smile. Tell me about yourself? What the hell is that supposed to mean? She’s got it all there right under her nose, in black and white cursive font. All the way back to my cooking badge in Brownies. “I’m sorry; I don’t understand the question.”
Her smile becomes more forced as she clasps her hands together on top of my CV. “What are your strengths? Weaknesses? That type of thing.”
Weaknesses? She’s trying to trip me up. She wants me to give her excuses not to employ me. I’ll show her that I’m smarter than that. “Let me see. My strengths...” I pause for effect. “Well, I’m quite strong. I can do an entire Les Mils workout with the green weights.”
Her eyes fall down to the desk. “Oh yes, you mention here that you’re an avid gym attendee. But what I need to know is what you can bring to an employer. Your skills, your experience.”
“Well, like I said on page six, I have work experience.”
“Apologies, Ms...” She squints at my CV. “Haslard?”
What is she? Some kind of retard who can’t read cursive fonts. “Harland.”
“OK, Mrs Harland. I haven’t had an opportunity to digest all of the information you provided. Can you kindly tell me, in your own words, about your work experience?” And there it is again, that I’m-so-much-better-than-you-because-I-work smile.
I’ve rehearsed these lines so much they’re implanted on my mind. I even recorded them and listened on repeat while I slept. I take a deep breath and begin. “Well, I’m experienced in managing the reliable distribution of goods, and co-coordinating transportation in accordance with organisational policies and government laws.” Wow, I do sound good, so good in fact I decide to dive straight into telling her about my second job. “Once that role expired, I successfully gained employment where I was responsible for maintaining consistent output while working to tight deadlines in a high-pressured environment.”
“Wow, well, Mrs Harland, that sounds pretty amazing. But can you break it down a little for me? What it was that you did and who you did it for please?”
Fine. If she needs clarification I’ll give it to her. Although the watered-down description doesn’t sound half as impressive. “My first job was preparing the morning papers at the local newsagents before going out on my own round. When I was sixteen, I got a job at McDonalds, where I stayed until I finished my A-Levels, which was when I met and married my husband. I haven’t worked since.” I stop talking and chew on the inside of my lip. That’s it. My life in a nutshell.
“I see.” She casts her eyes back to my CV and takes a softer tone. “Not all is lost. I’m sure together we can fill in the gaps. How have you spent your time since getting married? Raising a family? Parenting can bring with it skills which are transferable into the job market.”
I shake my head. “No, we never had children.”
She nods thoughtfully. “OK, volunteer work? Experience comes in many forms, not always paid.”
The now boulder sized pebble of nerves in my gut makes way for a worse sensation. Guilt. Far from attempting to thwart my efforts to find work, Tara/Tamara/Cara wants to help. I take back the bitchy thoughts I had about her naff makeup application and tatty shoes and warm to her. So much so that I’m an inch away from telling her about the committee I sit on that organises charitable balls, and the amount of money we raise. I nearly tell her about the organisation and people skills it takes to pull off an event of that magnitude. The stress it causes every year, chasing outstanding bids and handling the budget. But I stop myself. If I spill the beans, she’ll want to know more, and I can’t divulge that information. So, no. I must keep my volunteer work under wraps. “No, nothing,” I whisper.
She nods again but I don’t raise my eyes to meet hers. I can feel the pity radiating from her as it is and don’t want to witness her sympathy too.
“Right,” she says, with a renewed chirp in her voice. “Tell me what it is that you would like to do. I have a fantastic relationship with my clients and they don’t always demand bucketloads of experience; we may be able to match you with something yet.”
“Actually, I made a list of my requirements; they are detailed on pages seven and eight of my CV.”
“Yes, I’m sure they are, but if you can kindly give a brief outline of what your absolute priorities are then we can work together to find your ideal job.” There it is again, that smile, it’s rehearsed for sure.
I shuffle in my seat as I attempt to recall my priorities. “I don’t think I want a lot actually,” I say and ponder again for a moment. “I suppose, the most important thing would be that I don’t want to face the public. I can’t serve behind a bar, or work as a waitress.”
She’s making notes on the reverse of my CV as I speak. “Why is that? Would you describe yourself as an introvert?”
I snort. “Good god, no. Far from it. I don’t want people to know.”
She stops scribbling. “Know?”
“Yes,” I say with conviction. “I don’t want my friends to know I’m working.”
The corners of her mouth twitch. “Alright then, so no public-facing jobs. Is there anything else?”
I sit up straight, my requirements suddenly flooding back “Yes, I can’t do care work. Bodily type stuff. You know. It’s not my thing.” My face screws up at the mere thought of having to wipe a wrinkly old backside. “Working outside is a no-go too. I have spent far too much money on facials over the years for it all to be weathered away for the sake of a temporary job. Also, weekends are sacred for me...”
“Are you religious?” she interrupts.
“No, nothing like that. I swore I’d never work another weekend for as long as I live when I left McDonald’s and I always, always keep my promises.”
My interviewer isn’t bothering to hide her frustrations anymore. Which is quite rude, in my opinion. It’s not like I’ve asked for much; there are far more high-maintenance candidates than me. At least I’m prepared to work, which is more than can be said for other people. I’d put money on the gum chewing, greasy haired, fake pony-tailed, candidate outside only being here as a tick-box exercise to claim her benefits for another week.
“While we’re on the subject of hours,” I add. “I need to be home by 4 pm Monday, Wednesday and Thursday; I have yoga. Routine is so important for one’s mental health, don’t you think?”
“Hmmmm, very much so. However, you’ve ruled yourself out of every job available.”
“Oh? Really? Well, I’m sure I could be a little flexible. How about you tell me what they are, and I decide one way or the other.”
She takes a deep breath. “I have a client looking for a waitress at the new Italian restaurant five doors down from here.”
I’m familiar with the one she means; very posh, the girls keep talking about visiting one evening. “No, I don’t think that’ll work for me. Is there anything else?”
“The council are looking for litter pickers?”
I screw up my face. “High visibility clothing? No thanks.”
She sighs again. “I have a client looking for a promotions rep?”
That piques my interest. “Ooh, tell me more?”
She smirks knowingly. “It’s providing in-store demonstrations. One week you could be providing samples of food, and the following week encouraging shoppers to try a new brand of perfume. It’s a varied role and they are looking for somebody to start on Saturday.”
“Weekends,” I say, shaking my head.
“Well, in that case, Mrs Harland. I’ll call you when something suitable comes in.”   

Diane Louise is a dairy farmer’s wife from the UK who doesn’t know a Holstein from a Hereford.
But what she does know is how to write a funny story. Three years ago she tried to write steamy romance and sucked at it. Honestly, her stiff upper lip made her heroes more wet blankets than wet dreams. With a steely determination to avoid milking the cows, she turned her hand to Romantic Comedy and a star was born. Well, in her mind at least.
Fancy getting to know the woman behind the words?
She hangs around Facebook daily, desperately avoiding housework, and loves nothing more than chatting to fellow lovers of Romantic Comedy over at Di’s Romantic Comedy Club. Or, if you don’t do Facebook, that’s cool, because she also sends a monthly email to her readers, making sure they never miss a new release and sharing behind the scene info about her books. You can join The Monthly Club here.