#110 Reading Constitution by Nick Webb


If you like Rusky bashing, space wars and alien threats then this is definitely the book for you. In the top ten Kindle books in space exploration, colonisation and metaphysical science fiction, Constitution obviously appeals to a large audience and as the first in the Legacy Fleet series, there is plenty more where that came from.

The book has over 1,600 5-star reviews on Amazon.com and in his bio, Nick claims that he became a scientist so that he could build starships. He laments that Unfortunately, his ship is taking longer to build than he’d hoped, so fictional starships have to do for now. He also says he is busy on social media,  tweeting and facebooking about Nasa, science, space, SciFi, and quoting Star Trek II from his home in Washington state.

I listened to the book on Audible because I wanted to see how one of the best selling science fiction books compared to the series of sci-fi novellas that I’m currently writing. I have to admit that my own series is more light-hearted than Nick’s book which is a patriotic alien bashing of the kind you would expect from a blockbuster movie like Independence Day. Perhaps one day they will adapt the series for the screen.

The first of my own novellas, THE DOOMED PLANET, has already gone out to the beta readers and I hope to be able to reveal some cover options in the next week or so. The actual launch date is December 6th. The sequel, SHIPMENT TO DAPHNIS, has also gone out to the beta readers and should be launched early January. I am still editing novella three, ROCKET TO TRINCULO, which should be launched early February.

Watch this space for more information.

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#109 Reading Booker winning novel Milkman by Anna Burns


At a time when the Booker Prize has just been controversially awarded to two authors, Margaret Atwood and Bernadine Evaristo, I thought it might be an opportune moment to share with you my opinion of last year’s Booker Prize winning novel, Milkman by Anna Burns.

Anna Burns was born in Belfast and raised in the working-class Catholic district of Ardoyne which gained notoriety due to the large number of incidents during the Troubles. Milkman, like her previous two novels is set against a backdrop of violence division and retribution.

Having never been to Northern Ireland, my knowledge of the Troubles has been limited to what I have see in the British media so I’m in no position to say whether the communities depicted in Milkman are an actual reflection of the reality of the time, however, I would like to think that the novel has helped me to understand the issues which touched these communities a bit better than before I had read it.

The book is experimental in the respect that it has no character names. The protagonist is ‘middle sister’ and the other characters are referred to either by their relationship to the protagonist and her family or by the way the community views them, for example, ‘issue women’ or ‘real milkman’ as opposed to just ‘milkman’ a man much older than the protagonist who begins stalking her.

This novel is a humourous and enlightening look at what was clearly a very difficult period in the history of the people of Northern Ireland and I would recommend to anyone interested in literary fiction.

It certainly kept m away from writing for a while.

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#108 Having an endoscopy


I can’t believe I’ve written over 100 posts without including a picture of my insides. Well, I’m going to rectify that right now. Above is a cute shot of my oesophagus.

I’ll admit, I was a bit nervous about letting someone stick a tube into me though not as nervous as I would have been if they were sticking it in the other end.

Perhaps it was this nervousness or my poor eyesight which led me to leave the piece of paper from my doctor requesting the procedure at home. Instead I took a prescription for a drug beginning with E so I assumed that the terrible handwriting said Endoscopy.

Twenty minutes later, I’d walked home to get the correct piece of paper and we were in the waiting room.

The doctor  in charge of the procedure was very nice and explained everything that was going to happen, slowly and patiently.

They asked me to hold a small plastic tube between my teeth and then injected 5mg of midazolan.

The next thing I knew, I was sitting in the comfy chair in the waiting room and asking my wife, in Portuguese, whether it was all over. The whole procedure had only taken five minutes and the xilocaina spray they had asked me to swallow must have worked because I felt no discomfort at all.

It turns out that one of the uses of midazolan is that decreases anxiety and it was truly wonderful. I sat in another comfy in an area the clinic has for patients to avail themselves of free coffee and biscuits and it was the comfiest chair in the world. The coffee was the best coffee in the world and the biscuits were just amazing.

The effects of the midazolan were so great that I would be quite happy to go and have an endoscopy every week.

Apparently I have erosive esophogitis and erosive gastritis which, as well as taking the pills the doctor prescribed, involves me eating smaller, more-frequent meals, avoiding irritating foods, especially those that are spicy, acidic, fried or fatty and, worst of all, avoiding alcohol.

At least I managed to avoid writing for a while.

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#107 Stomach pains

bunch of white oval medication tablets and white medication capsules

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Those who know me know that I like a drink and that what I like better than a drink is a few drinks.  So having a few at the staff party is not unusual for me but having problems getting myself home, is. Therefore,  I was very pleased with myself this year when I managed to not only leave the venue before the party ended but also managed to order myself an Uber and get myself home.

Imagine my disappointment then, when only moments after successfully getting myself to bed, I staggered to the bathroom and vomited a red wine hue of liquid barf all over the joint. Never mind, I told myself whilst on hands and knees, at my wife’s orders, wiping the residue off all of the surfaces, including the toothbrushes. I’m getting old, I must remember not to overdo it with the red wine next time.

The next time came the following week at a stag weekend in Rio de Janeiro where I carefully avoided the red wine and, despite accidentally drinking quite a lot of tequila, I survived the weekend and felt okay.

Three weeks later was my birthday. Okay, so I had consumed drinks in between, but I hadn’t overdone it. I went to a craft ale bar where I drank quite a bit of strong IPA and washed that down with a veggie burger and a soggy piece of pork crackling. I know, I only have myself to blame, but hadn’t set any personal bests or broken any Olympic or world records.

That night, I had to get up four times to allow the contents of my stomach to eject itself the way it had come in. For the next four days, (look away if you’re squeamish), how shall I say this? The consistency of my stool was liquid, it was like weeing out of my bum.

After four days of that, I’d had enough but I had promised to visit the in-laws who live at the beach where the healthcare is of the public rather than the private kind and anyone who can afford it usually opts to pay for private medical care for reasons which became immediately apparent as soon as I entered the public health centre.

The walls sported hand wash dispensers in various states of disrepair but none of them actually contained any hand wash. The clinic was essentially an accident and emergency unit, but anyone requiring admission to hospital would need to be driven 114 km (71 miles) to Sao Paulo. In my experience, the doctors in the public hospitals look as if they have either come out of retirement to fill a shortage or they are much younger but have taken more drugs than they prescribed.

After my five hours in the clinic I had been given a couple of medicines intravenously, had a blood test and been told that it was probably just a virus, to take some medicine at home and not to worry about it.

Four days later and the pain that had started the day after the clinic, felt like it was travelling around my side, so I went to another accident and emergency department, this time at a private hospital in Sao Paulo. Within a couple of hours I had used several fully functional hand wash dispensers, given blood and urine, had a ct scan and the doctor told me that there was nothing unusual in the results and that it was probably just my fatty liver and that I should drink less, lose weight and exercise – tell me something i don’t know.

Fine, I thought and set to work improving my diet but, despite my efforts and my continued abstinence, not only did i not lose weight but the pain did not go away. I began to consider what other causes there might be and realised that, the day before the staff party, my cardiologist had prescribed a third tablet for my cholesterol to add to the other two I was already taking. I jumped on Dr Google and red that the tablets should not be taken with large amounts of alcohol and can cause liver damage. I stopped taking the tablets to see if anything improved but the pain continued.

I had been drinking large amounts of milk to try and ease the acid and the thought occurred to me that I might have developed a lactose intolerance. Immediately, I cut dairy out of my diet but, although the pain cut worse when I forgot my diet and accidentally ate cheese, on the whole nothing changed.

Now, I usually do all my medical appointments during the school holidays but, with half term still three weeks away, I couldn’t wait and made an appointment with a gastroenterologist. I went with strict instructions from my wife to ask for a colonoscopy and an endoscopy and, although I did mention her desire for him to insert tubes in my orifices, he settled for an ultrasound and blood tests. He suspected worms and prescribed Nitazoxanide which, according to wikipedia, is a broad-spectrum antiparasitic and broad-spectrum antiviral drug that is used in medicine for the treatment of various helminthic, protozoal, and viral infections. Ironically, one of the side effects is stomach pain. It turned my wee a funny colour but, apart from that, I can’t see I’ve noticed much difference except that the pain is more in my stomach than the side.

I have my return appointment on Monday, so I’ll give you an update after then.

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#106 Giving books away – I need your help


In the same way that companies launching a new product will offer free samples, I offer free samples and sometimes full copies of my books in the hope that readers will like my books and then go on to buy future releases.

In fact, at the moment I give away many more books than I sell.

So far, I have given away over 3,000 copies of my first novel, LIVING WITH SACI, over 2,000 copies of my dystopian novel WHEN THE WELL RUNS DRY, over 1,000 copies of my humourous romp through the 70s, 80s and 90s, THE ASTONISHING ANNIVERSARIES OF JAMES AND DAVID, almost 1,500 samples of my Second World War drama, FRED AND LEAH and I am also giving away samples of my latest novel, LIVING WITH THE HEADLESS MULE.

One of the best tactics that many independent authors use is to have one of their novels permanently free in the hope that those who like the book will go on to buy the author’s other books.

It is quite simple to set the price to zero at online stores like Kobo, Barnes & Noble and iBooks. However, Amazon will not let a publisher set their price at zero but they will price match books which are offered for free at the above stores, in theory.

In practice it doesn’t always work making life problematic for authors like myself who would like to run a promotion. Because FRED & LEAH is a Second World War novel, I decided I would like to offer the full novel for free from September 12th to 25th. However, Amazon has had other ideas, which is why I need your help.

I need you to go to the FRED & LEAH page on Amazon and click the link where you report a cheaper price elsewhere. You need to click on the ‘website’ option, set the price nd shipping to 0 and then paste one of the links below into the box where they ask you to report where you saw the lower price.




Hopefully, if enough of you do this then Amazon will get the message and make the book free on their site as well.

If, in the meantime, you would like your own free copy of the book then you can download it here.

UPDATE (19/09/2019)

Well done, you did it! Amazon.com updated their price. Now the problem is  Amazon in the UK, India, Canada and Australia. If you want to help paste the links from my blog into the following pages:







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#105 The 80th Anniversary of the outbreak of World War Two

Polish kid in the ruins of Warsaw September 1939

Polish boy in the ruins of Warsaw September 1939. Julien Bryan caption of the image from 1958:

A BOY’S WEARINESS: Ryszard Pajewski was a study in dejection when I saw him sitting on a pile of rubble. Only nine, he had suddenly been made the family breadwinner – and there was no bread to be had. Now a truck driver, he remembers that when he saw me last, I was carrying two “boxes”-my cameras. [1]

In September 1959 Julien Bryan wrote more about it in Look magazine:

The spot where nine-year-old Ryszard Pajewski sat atop a pile of rubble in 1939 is now a smooth lawn. But a friend saw my picture of this scene and told Pajewski. He came to see me. The rubble pile had been near his home, and he had taken time out from a search for food, for his mother and brother, to rest. His father was later taken away by the Nazis, and he never returned. Pajewski, who is divorced, now lives alone outside Warsaw.

At the beginning of September 1939, the German Army invaded Poland. The British Government gave the German government an ultimatum which was ignored and, as a result, on the 3rd of September 1939 Britain was at war with Germany.

My grandfather, Fred Wooll, a Platoon Sergeant Major in the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers, was stationed at Dover Castle when war was announced. His wife, Leah, was three months pregnant with my mother. A chain of events had been set in motion which would irrevocably alter their lives and the lives of millions of others in Europe and around the world.

To commemorate the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of World War Two, I have decided to offer the ebook of my novelised version of their story, Fred & Leah, for free from September 12th until September 25th.

In lieu of paying me for the book, I hope that you will consider donating to one or both of the following charities, the value you would have paid.

The International Committee of the Red Cross were lifesavers for prisoners of war, delivering care packages and messages from home. There were times when the contents of these care packages were the only things the POWs had to eat.

MIND is a UK based mental health charity. Had Leah, my grandmother, had the support of a charity like Mind then the resolution of my grandparents life stories might have been very different.

You can see me reading the opening chapter of Fred & Leah here.

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#104 Coping with cats


While clearly adorable, cats do make life more interesting and sometimes more challenging for the people they own.

In a recent post, I shared the obsession  that one the cats who has shared ownership over me had developed with my bow tie. I can now report that this activity has reached olympic sport levels where every day I hide the bow tie in different, seemingly secure, location and Cat finds it, liberates it from its captivity and drags it to his food bowl. For example, yesterday I left it in a zipped bag and somehow Cat managed to unzip the bag and retrieve the tie. Hiding it in a cupboard no longer works as this only results in a lot of annoying cat related cupboard scratching.

I tried giving up and leaving it in his bowl but he brought it back for me to hide again. It was damp.

One of Cat’s other obsessions is drinking water, not from the expensive water filter we bought, from the tap. The other cat who owns the house, Kit, has decided to join him so that now both of them drink at the sink making ablutions more difficult and subject to lengthy delays.


When he isn’t finding bow ties or drinking out of taps, he’s trying to sit on my laptop. The laptop in the photo died, I think it was due to the volume of hair which had slipped through the keyboard and clogged up the inside.

Such is life with cats. They entertain and they’re an excellent distraction from writing.

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