Happy New Year!


So how were everyone’s festivities? Mine was the usual stuff-fest of mince pies, cakes, chocolates, nuts, misc. nibbles and what-not. I started off in Yule, where I celebrated the shortest day of the year by eating homemade vegan pizza, a rather crappy sugar-fest of a brownie pudding from Tesco, and watching a Ghost in the Shell marathon courtesy of some DVD’s I’d purchased a while ago so I could get free P&P on Amazon. It was the original anime version of the movie in a double set with Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence. Having rewatched the original anime, I realise how much better it is than the dumbed-down Hollywood version. And yes, I’m still enamoured of Batou!

I managed to burn some of the excess calories off on my cross-trainer before Xmas rocked up, which brought more food, nibbles, and something I haven’t eaten in a while (despite being vegan), namely nut roast. It was another Tesco’s offering, but unlike their travesty of a pudding, it was a lot better, although I was in danger of breaking a tooth on its overly hard nuts.

Then, shortly before the New Year, my mate and I headed off to the cinema to watch Jumanji. We also wanted to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi at some point, but figured as it was the holidays, as the film had only recently come out, and as it was Meerkat Wednesdays (2 for 1 on tickets), it would be rammed. Boy, were we wrong!

We were greeted by the desk clerk telling us that the only free seats in Jumanji were right at the front, and the next showing wasn’t for another couple of hours. Given that it had been a 45-minute drive to get to the cinema, we couldn’t exactly pop home and wait it out. It was then my mate asked about Star Wars. We were told that it too was fairly full, but there was still good seats available, so that’s what we went and saw. Turns out, the theatre was probably a little over half full by the time it started. I still can’t get my head around the fact that Jumanji was busier than Star Wars, I mean c’mon! It’s Star Wars!

I also can’t get my head around all the hate that’s been going on over the film. I thought it was great, and I liked the difference in the storyline and direction. Yes, it was quite a bit different to The Force Awakens, but let’s face it, that was just a rehash of A New Hope, complete with exploding Death Star. Also, watching the film was a little bitter-sweet, as shortly before reaching the cinema, the news reminded us it was the anniversary of Carrie Fisher’s death. I’ll be honest, I got a little teary-eyed at times when she came on screen. Personally, I’m glad it’s done well at the box office, despite the concerted effort of a bunch of nay-saying fanboys to make it bomb. Seriously, the f*ck is wrong with some people?

I saw the New Year in with yet more nibbles, a dickie tummy (apparently, rolls in the freezer can go off), and my yearly alcoholic drink (thank you Aspall Cyder).

So here’s to 2018, and to hoping the orange one doesn’t cause the extinction of the Human race!

And who knows, maybe I’ll actually get a paid job this year (I know, I know, pigs have got a better chance at flying!)


❅ S-no-w Fun (Part 2)

Continuing on from Part 1….


During the night, whilst the snow made its merry way to the ground, I was running through multiple scenarios in my head. Being in the middle of nowhere with no transport had caused me a problem. My initial plan had been to get the National Express coach back to Exeter, but as my hotel checkout was at 10.30am, and the bus didn’t depart until 5pm, I had been looking at a long and cold day Sunday spent in a closed Bridport. Thankfully, Maya had offered to give me a lift back to Exeter on her way home, but that left me with a similar problem. She needed to leave a 9.30 am (hangover notwithstanding) which would get me into Exeter at 10.30, needing 3 and a half hours to kill before I could check into my hotel.

I toyed with the idea of saying hotel booking and shitty wi-fi be damned, and getting the train home a day early, but there was industrial action on part of the route, meaning a long bus journey between connections, with no guarantee it would be on time (especially if it was having to travel snowy roads). Then I remembered that one of the other volunteers lived in Cardiff. If I could get a lift with him to Newport, then I could avoid the bus journey, and be closer to my goal. Plan hatched, I finally fell asleep.

The talk at breakfast revolved mostly around blood-alcohol levels and snow. Word was that Birmingham airport was closed, but I checked British Rails website, and the only news they had was regarding the industrial work. The Cardiff-based volunteer was happy to drive me to Newport, so I was good to go. I bid farewell to my original lift, Maya, and got ready to head off. As I waited for my new lift, I tried to get into contact with Premier Inn to cancel my room, but after 10 minutes waisting my money on hold, I gave up. And boy am I glad they have shitty customer service, because my new lift reappeared to tell me that Arriva Trains was reporting the route I needed to take after Newport was closed due to snow. It seems British Railways was blissfully ignorant of the snowy hell that was breaking loose in south Wales.

That plan screwed, I had to scrabble back to my original plan of overnighting in Exeter and hoping things cleared. Unfortunately, lift number 2 couldn’t take me to Exeter, so on to lift number 3, who were just about to leave. They couldn’t take me to Exeter either, but they could take me past a train station that fed into the city, namely Sherborne. One rapid and bumpy car journey down narrow country lanes and I too felt like I had a hangover; at least the extremely icky stomach part. *🤢 Hurp*

Stress aside, this lift juggling worked a bit in my favour, as thanks to the car and train journey, I only had to kill an hour in Exeter train station. A leisurely pee, some internet surfing on my phone, and lunch from the WHSmith in the foyer later, and I was able to check into the hotel and fight once more with their useless wi-fi.

The following morning broke with bad news. Checking Arriva Wales’ website (NOT British Rail’s) I discovered my required route still blocked, this time by trees. Thankfully, the hotel was literally over the road from the train station. And after a panicked visit to the ticket office, I was given a new route bypassing the problems (thankfully I could use my old ticket, meaning I didn’t need to pay any extra), leaving an hour earlier, arriving back home an hour earlier, and with only one change over. I had to do a mad dash back to the hotel to get my stuff, only to find my keycard had stopped working (those cards are bloody useless!). A nice maid helped me get back into my room, I grabbed my stuff, jogged back to the train station with enough time to spare to buy my lunch, and I was back on the move once more, this time homeward-bound….

More snowy scenes 🚄❄❄ #snow #snowy #snowymountains #scenery #snowday

A post shared by Kate Llewellin (@kllewellin_cetologist) on

The snow may have caused me plenty of problems, but boy, the countryside sure looked pretty!

How to Write an Interlude

Writing tip for indie authors courtesy of ‘Self-Published Authors Helping Other Authors’. Check out their blog for more tips….

Self-Published Authors Helping Other Authors

Have you ever been in the middle of a novel, and it’s been told almost entirely from the point of view of the protagonist, and then in one chapter it’s suddenly told from the POV of a character who may work in an office dealing with the fallout of the events of the novel, or of a love interest left at home waiting for the protagonist to come home, or from the villain who is slowly losing their mind as they see the price they are paying for their power? If you have, then you have come across an interlude, a break from the main narrative of a fictional story in order to receive the viewpoint of another character or characters, often to further the story or to give us an expanded perception of the story.

Interludes occur a lot in fiction. The Harry Potter novels had quite a few…

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Monthly Reads – November & December 2017


Apologies for the lack of a post in November, but the book I started at the tail end of October took me until the beginning of December to finish off. What took me nearly two months to wade through was Pax of Wildly Women, by V.C. Bestor. It was part of my old mass free e-book download, and in all honesty, it wasn’t good. The story’s general premise is that a group of women have come together under the moniker ‘Fanged Wilds and Women Program’ to protect the world’s predators in a bid to repair its ecosystem. The overarching premise itself is believable: more predators means fewer grazers (and those that survive are healthier), leading to the equalisation of habitats. It was the way the story was written that made it hard going.

First off were the play-on names of some of the more ‘famous’ characters. Politician Hillary Clintown, billionaire Richard Brimstone, media mogul Murdrech, celebrity Lady Gagg, fashion designer Stella McPaul…you get the idea. I found this very distracting, and personally, I would have been okay with entirely fictitious names with no bearing in today’s news, after all, this story is set in the future (climate change has caused the sea levels to rise, and there are Dick-Chainey clones!).

Secondly, the sheer wealth of side characters became a problem. It ended up getting more confusing than a Game of Thrones novel, and as the narrative jumped from India to Texas to England to Oregon to a dozen other places, I completely lost who was who, and when one guy sacrificed himself to a tiger, I had absolutely no idea why, as I couldn’t remember what, if anything, he’d done.

Then there was the author’s habit of having the characters try and say something insightful about the state of womanhood and the environment. Unfortunately, it often was out of place with the characters and scenes and ended up sounding disjointed, and truth be told, it wasn’t often clear what the point was the writer was trying to make. They tended to be just clipped abstract sentences that no person would really say in a conversation.

The story ended with the women doing stuff with Chernobyl radiation. What they did and why was again lost on me, as the narrative tended to go off on a tangent. Plus there were several story lines that seemed to go unfinished. What happened to Vimvole? What happened regarding the juicy information the journalist just happened to find lying on the ground? Too many questions left unanswered, or if they had been, it wasn’t entirely clear. In the end, I found this story chaotic, and at time nonsensical, which is a shame, as like I said, the premise itself sounded good.

Anyway, that finally done, I got to catch up with a couple of outstanding comics before starting another novel in December (and which I’m still reading as I write this). This was another freebie, but of a different kind, and of a considerably different quality.

Over a year ago I stayed at a Holiday Inn, to attend yet another interview that bore no fruit. But because of that, I was enrolled in the company’s IHG Rewards club, who began offering two free kindle books per year back in November. Of course, this here bookworm couldn’t say no to such an offer. Unsurprisingly, given that it was a free offer, the book choices were slim, but in the fantasy genre Crimes Against Magic (Hellequin Chronicles, #1) by Steve McHugh had good reviews, so I picked that. Thankfully, I haven’t been disappointed by this one, and I’ll give it a review in the New Year (jeez it’s nearly 2018!)

These last two months have been the months of the freebie books, as I got myself a further freebie in December, but this one was a ‘coffee table’ book, which I came into possession of in a different way to the two novels. Basically, I filled out a survey for the job website Countryside Careers, mainly as my name would go into a draw for this book. Amazingly, my name got picked, thanks to a random number generator, and a copy of British Wildlife Photography Awards: Collection 7 winged its way to me. They’re great pictures, and the book is cool to have around for the occasional flip-through.


So that’s it for 2017. However, I’ve got plenty to read in the New Year thanks to a backlog of comics, manga, and some Xmas presents. So see you all the other side in 2018. Hope you had a great festive holiday, and have a Happy New Year!

Why Your Book is Like a Start-Up Business

Some great advice regarding self-publishing marketing from Outskirts Press….

Self-Publishing News for Self Publishing Authors

Have you recently self-published a book? The more time you spend exploring your options and opportunities, the clearer it becomes that self-publishing a book is a lot like launching a start-up business … and that the more you plan, the more you’ll get ahead.

There are countless considerations and decisions to make once you make that big commitment to self-publish! And if your new book is your new business, you need to keep many things in mind prior to, during, and after publication. First off, you absolutely must take some time to sit down and plan out your next steps. Planning is something you’ll need to return to, as well, throughout the process! Taking time periodically to evaluate, and possibly re-evaluate your plan, is necessary to ensure that you are still on the right track.

Looking for some ideas to get started? Ask yourself these questions and you may just…

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Some months back I mentioned I’d won a bottle of bespoke vegan vitamin pills from ARTEFACT. As well as containing vitamins B12 and D, needed by indoors vegans like myself, the capsules contained a mix of Maca and Goji Berry. The premise being that these extracts would give your body a boost, based on nothing more than myth, hearsay, and non-proven science.


Well, I’ve now finished those pills, and let me tell you this, they’re just very expensive vitamin B12 and D pills.

As a reminder, the company states their benefits thusly…

“Leaning upon goji’s protective and stabilizing nature as the baseline (e.g., through antioxidants, immunomodulation, antidiabetic, and cardiovascular protective activities as well as anti-aging in folkloric texts) lies the potent and versatile maca as an agent to further improve lifestyle dynamics (mental and physical health) such as sexuality (e.g., libido, reduced menstrual discomforts, fertility in folkloric hearsay), cognitive capacity (e.g., concentration, alertness, memory), and resilience (e.g., immune-booster and strength).”  [ARTEFACT]

With respect to the goji berry, no one is going to know if it’s performing immunomodulation, antidiabetic, and cardiovascular protective activities without some series, and probably expensive, blood work and physical tests. As for the anti-ageing, sorry, but I’m still getting old!

As for the Maca, my mental health is still a roller-coaster, my PMS is still a nightmare (TMI, sorry), my libido is still pretty non-existent, and I’m not going to get pregnant just to see if my fertility has improved. Additionally, I still have the concentration, alertness, and memory of a rock. I have no comment regarding the immune-boosting properties of these pills. I hadn’t been ill months before taking them, and I wasn’t ill during taking them, so…yeah….

Honestly, if you want to take more antioxidants, buy a bag of frozen blueberries from the local supermarket. As for a memory boost, eat tomatoes and dried apricots, and drink coconut water; all of which will boost your potassium levels. Even combined with a generic bottle of multivitamins, all that will be way cheaper than forking over more than £32 for a bottle of these pills every few months.

In summary, don’t be swayed by this company’s fancy packaging covered in technobabble and pseudoscience. They’re just out to make a quick few bucks from hipsters with more money than common sense.

❅ S-no-w Fun (Part 1)

For the first time in forever, I had a Xmas party to attend, namely with the organisation I volunteer for; MARINElife. However, as their main base of operations is in Bridport, that was where the party was organised (in a hotel on the coast of Eype), and as I’m based near Caernarfon, that meant a long train journey, plus some hotel juggling, in order for me to be able to attend. That was no issue, albeit rather expensive, but then, for the first time in around seven years, it S.N.O.W.E.D! Literally the day I begin to make my way down south it starts, and I’m there, waiting on Bangor station, watching as the big flakes head on down to the ground. Marvelous!

Still, I carried on regardless, and headed on down to Exeter for my first stop-over. Shropshire is when things got a little dicey, and I sat on the train worrying that I was about to get stranded in the middle of nowhere…

…only to see green fields again 10 minutes out of Shrewsbury. Phew!

I made it safely to Exeter, and spent the night in an overpriced Premier Inn room (I had to pay double as they were short of rooms and I was put up in a disabled room), battling with their joke of an internet connection. Seriously, what company in their right mind toggles their wifi speed to 500K and forces you to pay out for a 2MB connection? Not only that, but the connection kept repeatedly cutting out on my laptop, forcing me to do a hard restart every 5-10 minutes in order to reconnect (cause Windows 10 is damned if I’m going to be able to toggle a switch to reconnect like I can with my android phone and tablet).

One frustrating, and very cold night later, I was off to Bridport, courtesy of an early National Express coach. There I got picked up by one of the MARINElife lot, who dropped me off at the hotel so I could get ready for the night’s festivities.

Fast forward to the evening, and I have a major problem. I work for MARINElife through the medium of the internet, I communicate with them by email, and so I was waiting for a group of people amongst whom I only knew the face of one; the Chairman (I’d pretty much forgotten what my pickup looked like by this point). The problem was compounded by the fact that the hotel was hosting a second company’s party night, so there was no way for me to know who belonged to which group. So there I was, sat on my own, nursing my apple juice, and starting to have anxiety-filled introvert regrets.

However, turns out this ignorance worked both ways. My pick up, who had briefly seen me bundled up in coat and bobble hat, didn’t recognise me sat in the corner, all scrubbed-up in my party gear. Subsequently, she, and the chairman (who had arrived at some point, but had managed to avoid the bar where I was), went up to my room to be met with silence. They hammered on the door to no avail, and even went as far as getting an emergency key to gain entry to check I wasn’t dead. Why it never occurred to them to text me I’ll never know. Anyway, the Chairman finally made his way into my line of sight, but it wasn’t until I stood in front of him and announced myself, did anyone twig to who I was.

Confusion done, the party finally got underway. I got to meet a few of the main volunteers, plus our organisation’s patron, Maya Plass who, funnily enough, did the same course at Plymouth uni as me, just a few years behind me.

As the only vegan in the group, I got my own set menu, which varied in quality. The starter of roast almond and broccoli soup was rather nice, and the main course of roasted nuts in tomato sauce on a roasted courgette was odd but tasty. However, the chef clearly lost inspiration when it came to my dessert, which was ‘fresh fruit salad’, i.e. a bowl of chopped fruit. It wasn’t even dressed up with a scoop of vegan ice cream, or a drizzle of vegan cream, but as I was hungry, I ate the lot, and it’s remarkable how filling plain fruit can be.

These days I don’t drink (other than a toast on New Year’s Eve), so socialising as a sober, painfully shy introvert is hard going. I did a lot of listening, which was difficult as all the noise and words meld together into a barely penetrable wall of sound. I didn’t dance. A few years back I would have (I used to love going to clubs and dancing to trance and dance music), but the years have chipped away at my confidence, and the dance floor now looks a scary place to be. Not that it mattered too much, as the disco music was pretty much all 70’s stuff, and not my kind of jam. I did relent to peer-pressure at one point and managed half a song on the dance floor last thing, before eventually calling it a night just before 1am, with an early morning ride with a soon-to-be very hungover Maya to look forward to.


And all the while, it’s snowing in the Midlands and South Wales….