Too big for a woman

Get your minds out of the gutter. This is about phones.

Remember the first Yuppie mobile phones? A brick with an aerial sticking out that would cost six month’s income for the average worker. Everyone laughed at the Poserphones – who the hell needs to be contactable when out of the office? It was a gimmick.

Then they got cheaper and smaller and eventually pocket sized. I had (might still have, somewhere) a Motorola Razr flip phone that is tiny. It did the job. It had games but the golf game graphics were so slow to update it was actually unusable.

I got my first one when a pheasant hit my windscreen. Quiet, dead straight country road, full daylight with clear vision ahead, travelling along at a quite reasonable and almost legal speed, a pheasant decided to cross the road ahead of me.

It saw me and stopped. Took a few steps one way, then the other way, finally its pea brain said ‘fly’ just a second too late. It smashed the windscreen.

Well, okay, the insurance covers that so the windscreen repair cost me nothing. While in town though, waiting for the garage to fit a new one, I picked up a mobile phone. It cost about £60, PAYG, primitive but serviceable. I only bought it in case the next collision took me off the road in the middle of nowhere. I rarely used it and gave very few people the number.

That last part is still true. I have a very short contact list in my mobile phone. A couple of them are work ones and they can be a pain on holiday but I rarely bother with holidays anyway. I’m lucky enough to live in a place many people would think of as an ideal holiday destination as long as you like finding skulls in trees and total darkeness when there’s no moon. Also, self-employment means your working hours are when you’re awake. Stop working and nobody is paying you.

Phones got smaller and cheaper… then started to get bigger and more expensive again. And the batteries didn’t last as long because of all the weird shit they can do.

I used to have a Hudl tablet computer. It died, as they all do eventually. I replaced it with an Ibowin Android machine and then another after I stepped on the first one. They cost around £50. Enough to make you swear when you break it but not enough to make you think your financial world has ended.

I do not buy Apple devices. Never have and never will. This is not really about the ridiculous prices they charge, it is much more to do with their declaration that the warranty was invalid for smokers in case a molecule of nicotine in the returned (full of evil and toxic rare metals) gadget killed their entire servicing staff.

They may have withdrawn this paranoid nonsense by now. I do not care. The fact they were so stupid as to put it out in the first place means I can have no faith in their ability to do anything sensible at all. At the prices they charge I expect to see intelligence at every level of the company. They have proved, to me, that this is not so. They employ idiots. I’m not paying their prices to support idiots.

The Ibowin thing I bought runs Android. It’s not fantastic but it does what I want to do and also things I don’t want to do.

It has a slot for extra memory which I instantly filled. Everything important goes on to the SD card in case this one dies. I can then just port it elsewhere.

It also has two SIM card slots. Two. I had to get a £1 SIM just to shut it up because it bleated about having no SIM whenever I turned it on. It’s a phone too! This is as big as an iPad and it’s a dual SIM phone. I am not holding this thing to my face to have a conversation. It would be like talking to an ironing board and people have been sectioned for less.

So, for phone calls I have a Fusion Android phone. It’s bigger than some phones but easily manageable. I picked one I could handle. It’s not a hard thing to do and Android phones are a fraction of the cost of Apple ones.

I had a Windows phone for a while. It didn’t die. Apps were no longer being updated for it and things stopped working, which forced the change. Pity. I liked that one.

Now we have feminists moaning that the new Apple phone is too big for girlie hands.

Well don’t fucking buy it then.

I could use the Ibowin tablet as a phone. A dual SIM phone. I’m not going to because it’s just silly. I’ll use the Fusion phone as a phone.

And you know what? Buying both of them cost about £100.

Imagine what you could do with the money left over from not buying the Apple gadget.

I’m going to spend it on trains and whisky.

Crabapple Whisky

There are two large crabapple trees here and both are laden with fruit this year. I filled a carrier bag with them today and the trees look no different. Therefore, I have to find something to do with a huge glut of crabapples. You can only eat so many of these before you double up in gut-agony so alternatives had to be explored.

Crabapple cider is a possibility. I do have some large fermenting bins here. I also have to clear the lab soon so I’ll have a lot of 5-litre conical flasks with nothing to do. Then again I do have a lot of grapes this year too.

I will also bring home a 4-vessel continuous culture system with the temperature controlled by a water bath. Continuous booze production could become a thing.

A tip I picked up for home cider making when you don’t have a juicer. Cut up the apples and freeze them for a few days. Turns them to mush. Much easier than trying to juice them fresh, by hand. Of course, that does mean you can’t rely on the natural apple yeast but wine yeast is cheap.

There is a pear tree too. That’s a recent discovery. CStM noticed it first because it carried one lonely, sad-looking pear. I think it needs a bit of TLC. Chainsaw TLC. I have to get a chainsaw.

While searching for things to do with crabapples that involve alcohol, I came across crabapple whisky. There are many recipes out there. This is the one I used. With slight adjustments.

I was not going to use a good single malt for this first experiment but then I didn’t want the real low-end crap. No need to buy that anyway, with the Spiteful Nannying Puritans’ new minimum booze price, the toilet cleaner whiskies are the same price as some far, far better ones. I wanted some decent but low-price whisky. Aldi have Famous Grouse at £14 for 70 cl, and they now have Highland Black in a 50 cl bottle so they can sell it for £10. So I bought those.

We already have 1-litre jars here from CStM’s past pickling experiments. Considering the volume of fruit going in, we reasoned that a 50 cl bottle of Highland Black would probably be enough. It was. I prefer the 70 cl bottle because there’s some left over, but experiment comes first.

I weighed out 750g of crabapples as required but I also had about 200g of blackcurrants in the freezer from the earlier blackcurrant harvest. Not enough to do much with, they were bound to end up blended with something so they went in here. That meant that for the two jars I made today, the 750g of crabapples plus a few extra was enough for two jars.

Jar one:

Crabapples washed, dried and halved (quartered for the bigger ones). Load them in to cover the bottom, add two tablespoons of sugar and one slice of fresh ginger root (I cut off the outer skin). Then pile in some blackcurrants and cover with whisky.

Another layer of crabapples, one tablespoon sugar, another slice of ginger and more blackcurrrants. Cover with whisky. If you just fill the jar with apples first they’ll go brown too fast.

Same again, another slice of ginger, two spoons sugar, cover with whisky. Finally fill with apples and make sure the whisky covers everything. This won’t be easy because the bloody apples float. Oh, they float. They all float down here. Sorry, drifted away for a moment there. I filled it right up with Highland Black and let the lid press them down.

Jar two:

This time I opted for honey rather than sugar. It’s much harder to measure accurately and takes longer to dissolve but we have honey lying around so…

This jar had no blackcurrants (I used them all in the first jar) so this one had a cinnamon stick added at the halfway mark. Otherwise the procedure was the same. Jar two also used Famous Grouse whisky and to my delight there were a few drams left over.

I have no idea how this will taste. It should be left alone until Christmas to infuse properly, and ideally left alone for several years. I doubt I have the patience for that so it’s going to be opened around Christmas time unless I forget where I put the jars.  Freshly made, they look like this:

All the blackcurrants fell to the bottom anyway. So the careful measuring was a waste of time.

I have another of these jars and some smaller ones too. Tomorrow I will get either another Famous Grouse or a different decent low-price whisky, maybe Whyte and MacKay, and make one with ginger, cinnamon and chliies among the crabapples. I always have a good crop of chillies.

I expect I’ll pour it into a jug through muslin and then into a decanter or empty whisky bottle (you can’t buy them empty, they all come inconveniently full but I have a way to fix that).

How does it taste? I have no idea and won’t know until Christmas at the earliest. That’s why I didn’t risk the malts. If it turns out really good then I might try with a decent malt next year.

There are still loads of crabapples left. Cider recipes will be next.

If there are enough left, maybe a pie. But hey – priorities!

 

Update: I might be pushing the envelope with this one but I had so many chillies, I really had to try it. I suspect it will be hard to find independent taste testers though.

 

Fat or sugar. Make your choice.

There is a current spat on Twitter about the low-carbohydrate vs low-fat diets. Which one is better for weight loss?

Neither.

Also… both.

Anything can make you fat. I have met the occasional fat vegetarian. I was once pretty fat because of whisky. Really. There are around 1800 calories in a bottle of whisky so a daily bottle plus all the food plus the fact that, back then, I spent most of my time in front of a computer, made me into a stunt double for Mr. Blobby. Some nights I became less intelligible than him…

I cut down a lot on the whisky, landed a job as a janitor (times were very, very hard). Very physical working 6 to 8 hours a day, 6, sometimes 7 days a week – the weight simply vanished. I made no changes at all to my actual food intake. It was the same ‘unhealthy crap’ I always ate and still do. Curries, pizza, lemon chicken, anything I can culturally appropriate, I’ll eat it. Except rat on a stick. Everyone has a limit. I’d try it once though.

It’s really simple (as long as we are talking solely in terms of weight loss and ignoring essential amino acids, vitamins etc). Calories in, calories used. If you take in more fuel than you use, your body will store the excess. If you use more fuel than you take in, your body will use its stored excess to make up the difference.

What should you eat to lose weight? It does not matter. Eat what you like but don’t eat more than you need. Eat less than you need and you will lose weight.

Do remember to stop dieting at some point though. Too thin is actually more dangerous than too fat. Having a little bit of reserve is always a good thing – you never know when you might need that little bit of extra energy reserve. Chubby Venezuelans will attest to this. So will all the currently-villified British fatties if Corbyn gets in.

There is much more to it than weight, of course. Healthy eating does not simply consist of calories. The above considers body weight in isolation, it does not consider what those calories consist of.

Sugar, the naked truth – you don’t need any, other than what’s already in the food. Now before you get all outraged, hear me out. I don’t need to smoke, I don’t need to drink whisky. In fact I know that those things are likely to be bad for me one day. I do them because I like them. I know the risks and accept them because to me, the enjoyment outweighs the risks. Okay I don’t drink as much as I used to by any means but I do still like my whisky. One of the advantages of reduced whisky intake is that I don’t need the swill at the bottom end of the market. I now have smaller amounts of the good stuff.

I like sugar too. I will not buy aspartame sweetened things because I know, from personal experience over many experiments, that aspartame will make the world drop out of my bottom. My guts don’t like it at all.

Then there are the energy drinks, or ‘wakey water’ as I call them. I have, again, restricted my intake to one or maybe two a day and never after midnight. But I still like them. Actually I prefer most of the cheaper ones to the full-fat Red Bull but that’s a matter of personal taste and also wallet strain. One for about £1.50 compared to a pack of six for £1.50, it’s not a heavy decision for a one-time homeless guy in Scotland.

As I said before, calorie-free ‘energy’ drinks are a joke. If you drink those and believe they give you energy you are insane. And probably awake and tired.

We use sugar because we like it. Yes, too much is bad for you but too much of anything is bad. The dose makes the poison – even too much water will kill you. It will kill you faster, too. We do not, however, need raw sugar in the same way that we need water. In an internal sugar shortage, your body can make the sugar it needs from fatty acids produced by bacteria in the gut, and even from protein. There is also sugar in a lot of foods anyway, especially plant foods. Your body can get all the sugar it needs from a salad but, well, salad… chocolate… no contest really.

Oh I eat salad sometimes. With salt, because everything is better with salt.

That’s another issue. The healthists insist we have a daily salt allowance. I do not accept any kind of ‘allowance’ because I’ve always been a rebellious little goblin and always will be. I live by my own rules and often break those too.

The salt thing is bollocks on many levels. If you have a job that involves a lot of physical work you will sweat a lot. If, like me, you really don’t like hot weather because it makes you sweat to the point where you have to replace your eyebrows with rain gutters: If you labour day in, day out at heavy lifting… you lose salt as well as water in that sweat.

If your job involves sitting at a desk in an air conditioned office then you don’t need to sweat much. If you are one of those Satanic hybrids who like hot weather and don’t feel like you’re melting whenever the sun hits you then you probably don’t sweat as much as those of us from normal, cold places. So you don’t lose salt and water so quickly.

A one size fits all approach is horrifyingly wrong. In anything, if it comes to it. I eat a lot of salt. I’ve no idea how far over the ‘allowance’ I am because I don’t care enough to measure it. I carry little salt packs from takeaways with me everywhere and I have been known to just open one of those packs and eat the contents as raw salt. On very hot days, usually.

Your body regulates its salt/water balance. Too much salt and your urine is salty. Too little salt and you die of hyponatremia. It takes a hell of a lot of salt intake to wreck that balance, and you’ll know if you’re heading that way. Your kidneys will tell you with pain.

It doesn’t take very long to die if you have too little.

There is no point drinking water on hot days if you’re not also taking in some salt. You lose water and salt in sweat, you have to replace both, not one, or your body will simply piss out the water to keep them in balance. Modern medicine makes no allowance for this, nor for differences between individuals. Modern medicine uses the British Standard Human as their model and if you don’t fit the manual, well tough. They will let you die.

It used to be enough to have a bag of peanuts or crisps to get plenty of salt. I have, in recent years, had to add salt to peanuts and crisps when I eat them because it’s now been reduced to silly levels. Like the calorie-free energy drinks, we now have ‘ready salted’ crisps to add to our list of false advertising. I remember when crisps were unsalted but came with a litle blue twisted bag of salt to add as much as you wanted. Sometimes a pack had two bags of salt by mistake. I loved getting those.

Let’s talk about fat.

You do not get fat from eating fat, unless you are eating human fat. Or you are eating too much fat. Your fat is not the same as cow fat or pig fat or sheep fat or nut fat. Yes, bags of nuts now have a ‘high fat’ warning. Sigh. They are seeds. The plant has to start growing underground, in the dark. It has to have energy reserves in the form of fats and starches until it can get its leaves into the light and start making its own.

Seeds are full of stored energy. That’s why we eat them.

In fact seeds – cereals, grains – are so full of stored energy that you can get very fat indeed eating those things. Even if you never eat any meat based fat at all.

When you eat a bag of nuts or cereal or rains you are not eating pure carbohydrate. You are also eating some protein and a lot of plant fats. So don’t tell me you are ‘avoiding fat’ by eating those things. You are avoiding certain types of fat by eating loads of another type.

In the end it doesn’t matter. Any fat you eat is broken down by your cells and if it doesn’t need to be used, it is reassembled, along with any excess carbohydrate, into human fat and then stored. Fat does not make you fat. Carbohydrate does not make you fat. Taking in more calories than you use is what makes you fat.

There’s a lot more – there’s enough for a series of lectures in this topic!

Some vitamins are fat soluble and you will not get them at all on a fat free diet. They only exist in the fat. They are insoluble in water. Vitamin K – ever tried to make a bacterial growth media where that was an essential ingredient? It just sits on top in a little blob.

So much more, but this is just a little backwater blog and putting whole lectures up feels somewhat futile.

Protein is worth a mention. Some years ago, the Atkins diet was all the rage. No carbs, just protein. Everyone on it was instantly recognisable because they had acetone breath. Their bodies broke the protein to make sugar and dumped the excess parts as nitrates and acetone. Sure, you can live like that but if your only goal is weight loss it’s pointless. All it does is make you smell like cleaning fluid.

All you need for weight loss is to take in fewer calories than you use. That is all there is to it. There is nothing more complex involved and it will save you money, not cost you money. You spend less on food. Alternatively you can spend more to have someone else to tell you to spend less on food. Can you see how silly that sounds?

Diets are expensive. You pay people to tell you to spend less money on food. You pay more than you save. Does anyone see the scam in this?

Look, it’s really simple.

Are you happy with your health on your curent diet (ignore weight)? No? See a dietician. A proper, quialified one. Yes? Your diet is fine.

Are you feeling like you have to lose weight but answered ‘yes’ to the first question? Just eat less and/or exercise more.

Are you feeling like eating a cake of yourself and don’t give a shit? Good. Carry on.

All of those are correct answers. If you want to lose weight, take in less than you use. If you are feeling bad, and you think it’s because of what you eat, see a dietician. If you are happy as you are, carry on.

Modern medicine will never get it.

So the diet scammers have an open field for profit, when losing weight should, by any definition of logic, cost less than whatever you spend on food now.

You can change your life and body without outside help.It does not depend on how much you want to spend.

It only depends on how much you care about it.

Boycott Suicide

It’s all the rage now. Boycott this or that because they are connected, sometimes tenuously, with something or someone who is the current focus of today’s Two Minute Hate.

I’ve been feeling a bit left out. Everyone is boycotting things I’ve never bought anyway so I can’t join in.

Not that I would anyway. I can’t be bothered with boycotts, other than personal ones. The ones where I get shitty service in a business and simply go elsewhere. I’ve never demanded anyone else boycott that business. Maybe I was the only one to get shitty service. Maybe most people are happy with shitty service. I strike them off my list of shopping places and move on. Life is too short to get involved in organised boycotts and silly vendettas.

I’m not talking about the supposed ‘boycotts’ of reduced-sugar fizzy pop or breakfast cereals. People have stopped buying them because the new taste is awful, not because of any organised boycott.

I have also not boycotted pubs. I rarely visit since the smoking ban but it’s not a boycott. I just don’t feel welcome in them any more. It’s no longer an enjoyable experience so I don’t go there.

This has been made worse by the Spiteful Nannying Puritans of the Scottish government and their recent lowering of the alcohol limit for driving to where one beer puts you over the limit. The local pub is two miles away. I could take a 40-minute walk to a place I can’t smoke with my drink, or drive to a pub in which I can now neither smoke nor drink. What would be the point? The same drive takes me to Local Shop where I can buy a bottle of whisky, drive home, and then drink and smoke indoors in comfort.

The real boycotts are coming from howling Twatter/Farcebok mobs. None of them work and most seem to have the opposite effect to that intended. A recent one involved an American burger takeaway called ‘In and Out’ or some such. Sounds more like a brothel name to me but we don’t have that company in the UK so I couldn’t have boycotted them anyway. Apparently business has boomed since they got all that free Twitter advertising. They are now out of the shadow of MacDonald’s and the other really big franchises. Boycott? They’re lovin’ it.

I can’t remember what that boycott was about. It was, most likely, something very trivial. They usually are.

There was a call to boycott Amazon some time ago. Well I’m not going to do that. They sell Leg Iron Books! Boycott my biggest outlet? That would be as much of a commercial suicide as, say, Lucozade selling energy drinks in which they have reduced the sugar – the primary source of energy in the drink. It would be a stupid thing to do.

Incidentally, I have noticed some so called ‘energy’ drinks describing themselves as such, then boasting that the can of chemical fizz is sugar free and calorie free. So there is no energy in there at all. It’s just chemical fizz with caffeine. It’ll keep you awake and tired. I fail to see the advantage in this.

Back to Amazon. I live about 15 miles from the nearest town that’s big enough to have an Aldi and Tesco. Two miles away is Local Shop and it’s actually called that. Prices in there are not sky high. They are quite reasonable. Also they have cut price whisky sometimes and I’ve become quite partial to a drop of Glen Keith whenever they have it at £20 instead of £30. It’s one of the few places I’ve seen Glen Garioch on the shelves too. They don’t have a big range… of anything. It’s a small shop. You can’t really stock up your kitchen there without emptying their shelves.

Actually, as long as the bridge is out, Local Shop is 8 miles away along single track farm roads at harvest time, which is very inconvenient as it’s also the post office.

So if I need something that’s not stocked by Aldi or Tesco, I can drive all the way to Aberdeen (nightmare!) or I can bring up Amazon on the browser, click ‘buy’ and it’s delivered to my door. I don’t care what they’ve done to upset the perpetually offended. I am not boycotting them.

The most recent boycott involves some football bloke with big hair called Colin Kapplenapple or something like that. I wasn’t really paying attention. Seems he got fired from football for being useless and a pain in the arse, and lots of Americans despise him. So Nike, the sports mob, have taken him on to advertise shoes. Now, lots of Americans want to boycott Nike. I may be a bit sketchy on the details because I don’t actually give a shit. I don’t know anything about American football (it’s a bit like rugby for girls, I think), I’ve never bought anything by Nike and I have no interest in any sport that involves no sharp objects.

The bit that got my attention was all the idiots on Twitter videoing themselves burning their Nike shoes. What is that about? You do not hurt a shoe company by buying shoes from them and then burning the shoes. You still have no bloody shoes, have you? So now you have to go and buy more shoes. The shoe company doesn’t care. They have the money you gave them for the shoes. So you burned the shoes. You cannot cost them a sale by reselling yours.

If you don’t want your Nike shoes any more, give them to the homeless. They don’t care about fashion or politics or boycotts. Trust me on that, I’ve been there. You would wear Lady Gaga’s goat-hoof shoes if that was all you had.

I wonder if I can convince these maniacs to burn books. Get them to buy all the books I publish and burn them all. That would be fantastic. I’d get paid, the authors would get paid, and those books won’t be floating around the second hand shops cutting down sales of new ones.

The best part is they are all print on demand. Keep buying them and we keep printing them. And getting paid.

We make more per sale on the eBooks. Are there people stupid enough to buy fifty copies of an eBook and then burn their Kindle? There has to be at least one out there.

The search begins.

Underdog Anthology Six

Working title: The Gallows Stone. Inspired by a lump of rock in a wall of this house. The title may change if it doesn’t fit the content but as I have little idea of what the content will be at this stage, a working title will do.

Underdog Anthology Six is now open for submissions until October 1st. I will allow a day or two leeway on that deadline but no more than that. This is the Halloween anthology and I really want it available in plenty of time. So go for October 1st as your deadline and if it’s a day over, I’ll still consider the story. Best to warn me it’s coming though.

I am looking for Halloween themed stories in any genre – I know it’s traditionally a horror setting but it doesn’t have to be – of roughly 1000 – 2000 words. The word count is not at all set in stone, you can send as big a story as you like and if it’s far too long I’ll consider publishing it separately as a novella (that’s a different arrangement involving royalties rather than the one-off payment for a short story). Since I’m paying £10 per story, I’d rather not see 100-word flash fiction unless you’re willing to negotiate a lower payment.

Rules

Halloween theme, as I said. No child abuse or child porn. Adult themes are fine as long as only adults are involved. No violent rape scenes, other violence is fine. Absolutely no antismoking propaganda. Try to stay off politics, since that sets the story in a particular time frame and it’ll soon get dated. No fanfiction – if the characters in your story are from a copyrighted series or story, I can’t accept it. Be honest, you wouldn’t like it if someone took your characters and made money from writing them into stories, now would you?

Final rule – I’m not going to publish anything I could be legitimately sued over. Authors take full responsibility for their writings and if there are death threats or court cases, they get redirected back to the author.  Take the story right to the edge if you like, but not over it. These books have never yet made me a profit and I’m not going to jail for one of them.

Even so, every one of these anthologies so far has an 18+ rating due to one or more stories inside, so adult themes are okay.

Other information

Copyright remains with the author throughout. I never buy copyright. What I’m paying for is the right to include your story in this one anthology and as soon as it’s published, that publication right is completed. I cannot and will not use your story anywhere else and I cannot and will not stop you re-using your story anywhere you like. I would like it if you’d refer to the anthology if you do republish your story but it’s not a condition. I really don’t have the time or resources to check anyway.

The flipside is that once paid for and published, you can’t ask me to take it out of the anthology. I’m not doing eternal revisions of anthologies. There are three a year and the Christmas one is next up. Once I buy the right to publish, it’s in that anthology forever.

Format

Don’t. No fancy stuff. It’s murder getting those borders and lines out. Italics, bold, underline, sure. No problem there. But don’t split it into sections and don’t have all kinds of fonts and heading styles because I’m going to change them all. The book will be Times New Roman, pitch 11, and I will format headings so they are consistent throughout.

Don’t send a PDF. I can’t do anything with it. Microsoft Word or OpenOffice are preferred but if you have a different word processor I might still be able to open it. If all else fails, send it as RTF with instructions if you need anything special.

Try to keep paragraphs short. It’s not too important in the print version but people read eBooks on their phones and long paragraphs become screen after screen of solid text. It puts people off.

Author page

Every author has a page, about 250 words or so, to give any information they want about themselves. It doesn’t have to be the whole truth. If you have published before you can list those on your page and even include links. In the eBook those links will be ‘live’. If you want a photo in there (nobody ever has, yet) I can do that – I need it at least 300 DPI or big enough that I can increase the DPI and shrink it. It will be monochrome, if you send colour I can convert it.

Submissions should be sent to legironbooks [at] gmail . com

I think that covers everything. If you have any questions, either drop me an email or ask in the comments below. If you want a taste of what kind of story shows up in these anthologies, you can ‘click to look inside’ the previous ones…

Underdog Anthology (1)

Tales the Hollow Bunnies Tell (2)

Treeskull Stories (3)

The Good, the Bad and Santa (4)

Six in Five in Four (5)

Crank up those writing fingers, pour a glass of your favourite imagination lubricant and see what Hallowen inspires in you.

 

Never easy

There is such a thing as a gay ram. Farmers know of them and are scared of getting one.

See, you put two rams in a field of sheep. Each ram has non-drying dye splattered on his underside and every sheep he shags has a colour on her back end. So you know which rams are most effective at producing the next generation of lamb chops.

Well, the reason for putting two rams in is simple. They will compete for offspring and the ewes are guaranteed a good time.

However, if one of the rams is gay, the other ram doesn’t have to compete. He can take his time. Maybe a candlelit dinner, a bouquet of hay, and then extensive foreplay including a bit of hoofing and a paint mark on her head… Basically, if one of the rams is only interested in the other ram, the farmer won’t get too many lambs next spring.

If both rams have each other’s colours on their back ends and the ewes are all pristine white then it’s bankruptcy time for the farmer and his customer satisfaction hotline will get a lot of calls that are just an angry and frustrated ‘baaa’.

But I digress. This was just part of a conversation CStM and I had this evening and I have spared you the full depravity of it. Oh yes, I really have.

I guess ‘time’ is the theme here. Currently I have none to spare. Parents are visiting and want to see as much as possible of their grandchildren and great-grandchild and that’s understandable. For me that means driving every day and with the bridge out, it adds at least 5 miles to every journey. Along some very crappy roads if I go the short way or somewhat better roads if I go the long (10+ miles extra) way.

I am getting nothing done. I have not touched publishing work, I have not touched the garden, I have driven well over halfway to Wales and not been 20 miles from the house. I am knackered. I do see the point though – for Parents, every visit might be the last so they want to make the best of it. If you have any inkling of how old I am, you can appreciate how old my parents are.

Author payments are due at the end of this month. These are never large amounts – yet – so I hope the authors will understand if I am a day or so behind this quarter.

Parents leave on the 1st September. On that date, author payments, Justin Sanebridge’s book and the opening of the sixth Underdog Anthology are due.

I can do this. All of it. It will happen.

I’ve never had to deal with the ‘easy way’ and I have no intention of starting now.

‘Easy’ is for the weak.

Note for Leg Iron Books authors

It is usually the case, I find, that review sites want to deal with authors rather than publishers. Basically, they don’t want a publisher blasting them with a load of books all at once. That’s fair enough, I can appreciate that.

I know, I wouldn’t blast them with very many yet but there are small publishers who have been at this game a long time and have amassed extensive catalogues. Just one of them could easily overwhelm a review site, and if one of the big names struck it would be almost like a DDOS attack. So it’s no surprise that those sites want to deal directly with authors.

It’s a bit of a pain to set up an author page on Goodreads.com but it’s worth being on there. It’s also worth getting an author page on Manic Readers, and getting involved in critique sites such as critiquecircle.com. It all gets you noticed.

None of these places want publishers spamming them with a whole mass of different books by different authors. If they want a print copy for review I’ll be happy to provide it but they will (and have already in several cases) simply ignored any approach from a (or at least this) publisher. You, the author, need to contact them.

Here’s one I happened across this evening.

There’s never a guarantee that you’ll get reviewed, but if you don’t ask…

The best reviews are either free or done for a copy of the book. Paid reviews tend to push the reviewer into being positive to the point of gushing – so you’ll pay again for the next one. Nobody really takes paid reviews all that seriously for that reason.

Check out that link. As far as I can tell it will cost you nothing but time.