How do you count?

Something from a good friend of mine – Biola Olatunde


I am looking forward to my 70th birthday. I am confused though. How do I count? The day after my 70th I will technically be on the first day of 71st right? When a child is born he spends his first day on earth His first year when he moves from 0-1? So I am looking forward to completing the last day of my 70th year should be my consideration right?
Am I frightened by the approaching date? Am I looking forward to it in these days of COVID 19? When being old has become a cause for concern for government and relatives? Before the pandemic became a scourge on our thoughts and plans, we looked forward to joining the senior citizens club. You looked at your grey hair and reviewed your journey. Your sense of gratitude notches every day you open your eyes to gross matter and you thank…

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Lunch at the Oval Office

Remembering good times…

Have We Had Help?


The Ship and Bell, Horndean, Hampshire

Here is another glimpse into my personal life. In this case when I lived in a Hampshire village while briefly working as a ‘forky’ on British house building sites, after I came back to the UK in 2000. More about that later…


Until I returned here, I had lived most of my life in New Zealand. At the ripe old age of fifty-two I decided to pack it all in and go and see something of the land of my birth – England. I discovered that I was not the last of my family after my favourite aunt passed away, as I had been wrongly led to believe by my father for reasons known only to himself. In actual fact I found I had cousins living in the southern English county of Hampshire.

After arriving at Heathrow tired from the long trip via…

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Is the written word dying?

If the content of the above picture is any indication, the answer has to be in the affirmative.

I was talking to a friend of mine in South Africa earlier. I had sent him the link for the latest review for one of my books I wrote back in 2017 – Autumn 1066. When he congratulated me I said to him ‘Getting people to read is nigh on impossible these days, let alone writing reviews – positive or not!!!!’

The truth of the matter is that the number of books being read is in serious decline, despite the number of books being given away to attract readers by desparate writers and publishers.

Unfortunately until people want to read, there is no chance for the written word being enjoyed by today’s low IQ individuals who would far rather watch television or take drugs while playing video games than improve their minds.

Meanwhile as writers we will keep on writing our books, our poetry, our blogs, in the vain hope that the illiterate and those with a low IQ realise that without the written word, as a species we are destined to become ignorant savages once more.

Before you write me off as a doom monger, ask yourself this simple question – how many of the books you or your publisher have given away recently were read, let alone reviewed.

If we’re honest, we all know the answer…

Don’t Let Your Characters Sit On The Fence – by Zara Altair…

Don’t Let Your Characters Sit On The Fence – by Zara Altair…

How do you treat your characters?

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

As a writer, you want your characters to feel human. One of the best ways to do that is to give them opinions. Opinions, large and small.

Whether your reader agrees with your character’s opinions is not as important, as making that character feel real to your reader.

Mystery writers have multiple opportunities to create character opinions. As your sleuth navigates the victim’s world interviewing suspects and discovering clues, give them opinions about suspects and their social place, emotional reactions, and smoke screens.

One of the reasons readers love Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch is because Harry has opinions…about everything.

Opinions make characters relatable. And, the reason they are relatable is because the reader understands their attributes both positive and negative. So don’t be afraid to give a character an opinion that might not resonate with everyone. The humanity of the opinion is what resonates with your reader.

Continue reading HERE

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Rust in Peace

A story from back in the day…

Have We Had Help?


Garry and I worked briefly for a small family run company operating out of a satellite town of Southampton. The site which was only a few yards away from the busy waterway leading to the city’s container port, had formerly been occupied by an old cinema and now had a row of new small brick semi-detached houses along its front, with their front doors opening out onto the narrow pavement, and a pair of slightly larger semis behind with barely enough room to swing a cat between them. There was no room on site for a forklift so most of the carting had to be done the hard way by ‘hand-balling’ the heavy material. I’m convinced to this day that the son of the company owner who supposedly ran the sites was a used car salesman, because he knew damned all about building houses nor how to work with other…

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Being Naomi Campbell

Another welcome letter from Greece…

Letters from Athens

As we slowly emerge into the world, blinking behind our masks and washing our hands every 17 1/2 minutes, one aspect of life remains, and looks likely to remain, problematic: air travel.
Fantastic, I hear some of you say—it’s a chance to reduce people’s carbon footprints immeasurably and, as such, it can only be a good thing. Undoubtedly, but there still remains the small matter of needing to visit farflung family, wanting to see a little more of the world before we croak, and, dare I say it, having the occasional “vacation”. However, the dangers of recycled air, germs clinging nefariously to every surface, and the impossibility of observing the 2-meter distancing rule makes every flight an obstacle course.

But fear not, Naomi Campbell has already shown us the way. For those of you who’ve been on Mars or somewhere, Naomi Campbell is A Supermodel. A Germophobic Supermodel. She was…

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How many of these characters do you know?

I love this scifi story!!!

Have We Had Help?


Slarty Bardfast


Ford Prefect


Zaphod Beeblebrox


and Arthur Dent

None? Then how about the brilliant author who dreamt them up?

douglas adams inspired "Hitch hikers guide to the galaxy" H2G2

Douglas Adams (11 March 1952 – 11 May 2001)

Still unsure? Then maybe Marvin the paranoid android might jog your mind?

…or perhaps Arthur talking to whats on the menu?

I read Douglas’ brilliant tale The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy a few years before it was serialised on UK television back in 1981.

My mate Derek Haines has been called a Douglas Adams wannabe by a couple of trolls because of his equally brilliant Glothic Tales. But their comments backfired on them. Instead of being a put down, what they delivered was a compliment, by comparing Derek’s hilarious books with one by Douglas?

Kilian aka Sandra  Dickinson

PS – I watched the entire story again a few days ago. Loved seeing it all these years later.


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 A very occasional poet.

Lock up your daughters, Tallis is afoot!!!

Tallis Steelyard

A very occasional poet

I have known Stanlan Needleborne for virtually all of my life. He was the tough kid on the street, the rough boy we were all a bit nervous of. Looking back I cannot imagine why, I don’t remember him ever being anything but a friend to the rest of us street children. As we grew up he went for a soldier.

Obviously with his background he didn’t follow the easy route. At fifteen he tagged along to one of the impromptu and largely expendable infantry companies. Against the odds he survived. Next year he went back into Partann again. By the time he was twenty he was an accepted captain of crossbowmen, and was hired as such by the great condottieri captains to command some portion of their infantry.
Obviously at this point he had to learn to ride and acquire a horse, because even infantry captains have to keep…

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A reclusive life

I’m getting old…

Have We Had Help?


Whether we live in a loving family environment, or lead a solitary existance is all down to circumstance. In my own case these days I exist hidden away from society and the world, behind securely locked front and back doors. Why? Because like countless others across the planet, life has dealt me more than one cruel blow during my lifetime.

When I was nineteen I was deliriously happy, married for a brief eighteen months to a beautiful Montagnard girl named Mai, who I met in a bar in Saigon. When we wed in a magical Buddhist ceremony, Mai was seventeen and I was eighteen. We later had a sweet baby boy – John. Without going into gruesome details, suffice it to say that because of a cruel act of war, both Mai and John were killed by friendly fire, while I was on patrol up country. John was just four…

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An Interview With … Marjorie Mallon

Read all about our Marje

Books and Wine Gums

Today I’m joined by the very creative Marjorie Mallon to talk about her writing, her photography, and where all the ideas come from.

Hi Marjorie – first off then, tell us a bit about the thinking behind Mr Sagittarius. What’s it about?

Mr. Sagittarius is a collection of poetry, prose and photographic images inspired by mindfulness and the magic of the natural world. It’s a light-hearted, magical story about two fictional characters, twin brothers Harold and William, their sister Annette and the sibling’s connection to the beautiful botanical gardens in Cambridge. It celebrates many aspects of day-to-day life including: humour, sibling relationships, beauty, nature, the seasons of the year, love and ultimately magic.

I love spending time in nature taking photos – my favourite photos in this collection are the robin, the trees, flowers and the dragonfly that grace this little book. Photography is in my genes –…

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