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New Vlog: Why Can’t I Lose Weight?

The poem went up a few days ago, so here is the vlog. As I have said before, I am trying to move on from worrying about coronavirus and instead looking back at some more mundane things. This poem came to me as I do lots of exercise, particularly running, but am still chubby round the edges. I realise that I do not eat healthily enough and that, in many way, counteracts the exercise. What can I say? I love chocolate! You can watch the video of me performing ‘Why Can’t I Lose Weight?’ below, but if you would rather read it, then you can get it on wattpad in my poetry collect ‘Bad Poetry You probably never want to read.’

Islands of Hope Update – 08/08/2020

I found this week’s ‘Islands of Hope’ update a little harder to write. After the excitement of the battle last week and the week before, the aftermath did not seem to flow as well. It took me a while to get the first line out, therefore the update is not as long as I would have liked. That said, I think I got Kira’s mixed emotions in there, although at times I am not sure if it fits her character. We have not really seen her softer side, but she must have one! I feel so close to finishing Chapter 48 and wanted to be practically there this week. I am determined to make sure it is finished in the next two updates. For now, you can read Chapter 48 so far on wattpad by going here, or start from the beginning here.

New Poem: Why Can’t I Lose Weight?

I have a new poem, and this one is particularly bad! I have gone past that worry and concern for coronavirus, and am now back to my typical self-loathing. So, here is a poem about my weight. I play a lot of sport, I run a lot, I do lots of walking and vigorous playing with my kids, yet I am still a little chubby round the edges. Why is that, when I move so much? Probably all the rubbish I eat. So here it is, my new poem ‘Why Can’t I Lose Weight?’ You can read it below, or head to my poetry collection on wattpad, entitled ‘Bad Poetry You probably never want to read.’ Enjoy…

Why Can’t I Lose Weight

I make sure I keep fit

Run every other day

I do lots of other sports

Move in every way

So why can’t I get a break?

Then again, maybe it’s all that cake


I weigh myself each day

Hoping it’ll just go down

But instead of a great smile

I only see a frown

Is it ‘cause I’m getting older?

Then again, maybe it’s all that soda


I try to have a healthy diet

Counting my calories

I eat all my fruit and veg

This should really be a breeze

You know, I follow all the tips

Then again, maybe it’s all those crisps


I want to see my feet

Not this big bulbous tummy

I don’t want it all to jiggle

So it doesn’t look so funny

Is that really such a bad dream?

Then again, maybe it’s all that ice cream


They say the camera adds ten pounds

To me it adds nearer fifty

Even though I do things right

And try to eat quite thrifty

It could be that I’m just not lucky

Then again, maybe it’s all that choccy


Who am I kidding?

I know it’s down to me

The sugary food that I eat

So what shall I have for tea?

I think a nice juicy steak, or burger and chips

I think I’ll save my tummy and add it to my hips


Islands of Hope Update – 01/08/2020

And so another month rolls on. Feels a bit strange being in the UK, as if we are not in lockdown but are. However, this week the house decorating has stepped up and once more hit my writing hard. When I have had a day off, it has been family trips out. It means a shorter ‘Islands of Hope’ update than I wanted, although not particularly short in the grand scheme of things. This week there is a bit of the aftermath of the battle with Kira’s group. I wanted to get the remaining members (those still alive!) at least to Kira’s house, but that will have to wait till next week. For now, you can read Chapter 48 on wattpad by going here, or start from the beginning here.

Islands of Hope Update – 25/07/2020

It has amazingly been one of the most productive weeks of my life. Between general sorting and decorating, I have managed to do a lot of writing. I think it is down to the fact my family have been out a lot whilst I have been staying in decorating. This means I have had nobody bugging me on my breaks, and have turned to writing. I even focused more on ‘Islands of Hope’ than my other project. This means you get over 800 words this week, and they are fit to burst with action. I even think it is a bit better than the stuff I have been writing recently. There are a couple of lines I really love. So, buckle yourself in for an adrenaline ride this week as Kira and her friends encounter Princips soldiers. You can read Chapter 48 on wattpad now by going here, or start from the beginning here.

No thank you, Evil! by Shanna Germain and Monte Cook – Review

A bit of a different review this time round. It is not really a book, well there are books involved, but it is actually a role playing game. Also, this is unlike most of my reviews as they are usually indie books people have asked me to review, or I have picked up and reviewed to help out indie authors, being one myself I love to hear if someone has reviewed my book.

So why this review? Well, as you know, my reviews are sporadic to say the least, and sometimes I just feel like I want to tell the world about something. So, yeah, I would like to tell the world about ‘No thank you, Evil!’ I first came across the role playing game when looking for something to play in a role playing game club I was running at the school I work at. The children varied from 8 years old up to 13, so I wanted something that was simple and fun (and not as hack and slash as something like Dungeons and Dragons). On searching, I found some positive reviews for ‘No thank you, Evil!’ and thought I would give it a go. I was a little worried it would be too kiddie for my older role players, but went ahead and purchased it anyway. Since then, I have taken it home and started playing with my 4 and (nearly) 7 year old children.

So, what is it all about? The game is set in a story telling land called Storia. Each player is themselves. They live in their own house and enter Storia by one of four ways; Out the window, Behind the bookshelf, Under the bed and Into the closet. Each of these are different lands in Storia, with different features, characters and locations. The rule book gives good detail on these, along with ideas for quests you can create yourself. When the player enters Storia, they become their role playing character. Characters are created by choosing a type, then attaching words to these to gain other attributes. The game calls these nouns, adjective and verbs. There are lots in the game, so you could be; a magical princess who eats pizza, a funny robot who does scientific experiments or a brave pirate who likes slime, as well as many others. The nice thing about the game is that these are all suggestions, and the game actively encourages you to choose your own nouns, adjectives and verbs then use the attributes for the closest one i.e. if you want to be a space explorer you can, just use the attributes for an astronaut, or if you want to eat chips instead of pizza you can, you just change the throwing pizza skill to throwing chips. This really gives the game freedom and allows younger players to express themselves.

As well as having characters, you have a companion which has a special ability of their own. Once again, there is a list of them with abilities, but you can edit; for instance, one of the companions is a pony but one of my children is really into unicorns so we used the pony stats but had a unicorn. Another touch I like with character building is that there is a space on the character sheet to draw your character and companion, my kids loved creating funning looking characters and it meant they were more personal to them.

So, you’ve made a character, what next? Now you can play the game, obviously you need at least two people, one to be the games master and the other to be a player. You can, though, have as many players as you want. In one case we had ten and that was too many, but it works well with up to four players and a games master. Like other role playing games, the games master explains what is happening and then the players decide what to do. Unlike some games where the first thought is to look after yourself, ‘No thank you, Evil!’ focuses on cooperation, putting fun and good story telling over trying to be the best. It does this using the action system. When a difficult action occurs the plays roll a six sided dice, they then need to get the number of the action or above to complete it. Actions range from easy (1, does not need a roll) to impossible (8, cannot be done without a modifier). To get the impossible you need to use a modifier, to do this you lose one of your attribute points and that brings the dice roll down by one. The attributes you get are Tough, Fast, Smart and Awesome. Awesome is only used when helping someone else, but all actions are based around the other three. So, let’s say I was running away from someone, I would use the fast action. They are quite quick, so it is a roll of 4. If I have points in my fast skills, I could use one then drop the roll down to 3. Let us say I have 2 fast points; I can only use one at a time so I drop my fast down to 1 then the roll is decreased by one. When all of my points are used, I cannot then use that attribute to affect dice rolls until they are refilled. It sounds a little complicate and took a little while for us to get our heads around. I understand that by using this system it puts players on much more of a level playing field, but it also made some players not feel as good. Having more tough points than others, for instance, does not make you tougher, it just means you can reduce more dice rolls. I do think that rolling against your attributes would make the players realise what their characters were good at. One way would be to have the action values slightly higher and get players to roll the dice and add their attribute. This could even bring in levelling up so players can add to their attributes.

However, that said, the system does mean that no matter what adventure you are doing, all players have a pretty much equal chance of succeeding. Also, the way the world works, and the ability to develop stories to be more kid friendly or more young adult, means there is plenty of scope. On top of this, as you progress through quests, you will get more coins and therefore can visit a shop and buy more items to make your character better.

Included with the game rules is a mission booklet entitled ‘Let’s go on an adventure!’ This has three different missions in it, showing you how to play each one with hints and tips and sections to read out. There are also pictures and maps to show the players, and all the stats from the enemies appear here, as well as in the rule book. This is great, and the missions get a little longer and more difficult each time, easing players into the game. My only issue is that many people who buy the game to play with their children may not be veteran RPGers and as such three missions is not really enough. I think they could have included five or six to really get that replay value. There are extra missions and creatures in some of the expansions, but your have pay for these, and there are a few quests created by people and placed on the Internet, however I do feel a few more quests would help the novice gamer. That said, the three quests are excellent and lots of fun, and you can create your own.

Like all roleplaying games, ‘No thank you, Evil!’ has lots of replay value and helps younger children get into role playing games and develop stories. There is enough there for older players to join in and it is a great first step into developing an understanding of role playing games. Even with not loving the attributes system it was so nearly five stars, it is just the lack of missions that drops it down.

Final Verdict – 4 Stars

You can buy ‘No thank you, Evil’ from (I got the PDF version so did not even have to wait to play!)…

Monte Cook Games –

Amazon US –

Amazon UK – it is unavailable in the UK at the time of writing, that is why I bought the PDF version and printed it out.

P.S. Thanks to ‘No thank you, Evil!’ I have been working on a sci-fi role playing game to bridge the gap between a game like this and ‘Dungeons and Dragons.’ Currently it is stalled as I work on other projects, but I will get back to it one day. Also, look out for a ‘No thank you, Evil!’ mission I am working on, one centred around my daughter’s love of unicorns! Happy role playing.

Islands of Hope Update – 18/07/2020

Welcome back to another blog post about the week’s ‘Islands of Hope’ update. There is not really much to say this week. As usual, I have been busy, this time it has been decorating. As usual (well usual for recent times!), I have focused more on my other project. As usual, I have written a short update. Like last week it is another quick-fire bit of the battle of the slum. We are back with Solomon and Imka, who are now running away from Princips’ soldiers in an attempt to save their lives. That’s about it really. It is some more action and excitement though. Next week we start the last bit of this chapter, moving back to Kira’s gang. Until then, you can read Chapter 48 on wattpad by going here, or start from the beginning here.

Islands of Hope Update – 11/07/2020

So here we are, another week, another update. I said the next few would be four hundred words plus each. This week is not though. There are two reasons for that. Firstly, this was a mini section in the chapter and I managed to finish it. Secondly, I have been working on my other project. I am currently focusing more on the other project as it is nearer to being finished. So, you may get decent ‘Islands of Hope’ updates in the next few weeks, you may not. This week though, we find out that Stephanie and Daniel’s plans have not worked, this could have a major impact on those that are fighting on the ground. What will happen to them? Well, you will just have to wait and see. You can read this week’s update on wattpad by going here, or start from the beginning here.

Where I’m at! Summer 2020 edition

Looking back at recent blog posts, I have noticed that most are to do with the serial novel I am writing, ‘Islands of Hope.’ (You can access it on wattpad here if you want to read it!). These posts are interspersed with the odd review or poem. However, what you are hearing very little about is my other projects, or rather my journey as a writer. ‘Islands of Hope’ is great, but it is not all I am doing, and now the summer has hit (for me at least being a teacher) I should have more time to write and therefore hopefully you might see more of my other works. So, to start the summer, and as a bit of a halfway through the year thing, this is what I am doing…

Islands of Hope – Let us start with the obvious, my serial novel which I have been working on for the last couple of years. I feel I am in the final act; I just need to get to the end. I started it as a serial novel so I could have something out there in the world whilst I was working on other stuff. As a hobbyist writer, I very rarely release anything so needed this. I love the book, but at times I feel it stifles my other projects as I need to update every week. However, I will carry on with that update cycle and might even finish by the end of the year.

Bad Poetry You probably never want to read – My poetry collection on wattpad continues to expand sporadically. When I feel ready, I will stop and release a completed version on Smashwords. I have two more titles for poems that I hope to write over the summer, so keep a lookout. I am also thinking of improving the cover as it is a little basic, I have an idea that keeps the hideous brown but is a little more appealing. You can read the collection so far by clicking here.

Sci-fi roleplaying game – I started this last year whilst I was running a roleplaying game club at school. I had an idea for a space-based RPG that was more advanced than the basic ones for younger kids, and yet not as complicated as something like Dungeon and Dragons. It was going well, but since the club ended I have not done any work on it. Safe to say that the project is on hold.

The Fifth Coin – This is the book I wrote for NaNoWriMo a few years ago. I took two editing passes and am happy with the overall story. However, as it is one of my best ideas for a book I decided to put it to one side and come back to it later to make sure I could look at it again with fresh eyes. Now I have ProWritingAid and am slightly better at editing, I want to pick it back up and edit it once again. This, however, is a project I feel that ‘Islands of Hope’ is blocking. I will, though, get back to this at some point and then try to tout it to publishers! Don’t expect it out any time soon.

A Close Shave with Destiny – Why this book you ask? Actually, you probably don’t, you probably don’t even know it exists! It is a comedy fantasy novella I wrote because of Movember and released over a year ago, basically a fantasy quest set in a moustache. It has not sold well! No reviews either. One issue is that the editing is not amazing. I have now had another beta reader look at it and they have given me some notes. That means I am going to do another edit and polish it up, so look out for the second edition. I will put the first edition out for free before I upload edition number two. I would like to say it will be ready by the end of the summer, but probably will not! If you do want to buy the version that is out at the moment and want to support my writing (nothing like a guilt trip!), you can here…

Kindle UK Store e-book version

Kindle US Store e-book version

Amazon UK Store print version

Amazon US Store print version

Actually, just let me know and I’ll send you an electronic copy for free. A review, however bad, would be appreciated too.

World Cup Dreams: Extra Time Edition – Another book I released a while back, this one has done a lot better than ‘A Close Shave with Destiny.’ Partly as there is a free version with a few less stories in it you can get on Smashwords (just click here). It has reviews from two to five stars, with most being at about four. The book is a set of short stories and poems based around football (some of you call it soccer). It is another book I am re-editing. This time it is just me, I started re-editing a while ago and stopped. I will get back on to it and hope to release a more polished version after ‘A Close Shave with Destiny.’ You can buy the current version here…

Kindle UK Store e-book version

Kindle US Store e-book version

Amazon UK Store print version

Amazon US Store print version

Like ‘A Close Shave with Destiny,’ I’ll give you a free electronic version if you message me.

Children’s chapter book – I said I would not start another project, but I did! The eagle-eyed amongst you may have seen it added to my list of books I am currently working on in the ‘My Books/Writing’ page of this blog. It is a mystery for six to ten year olds and came about as my son has recently got into reading chapter books. I therefore wanted to write him a book. Given the speed he is currently reading books he is going to need it soon! It is almost written, and then I will be on to editing. As it is a children’s chapter book, it will be less than ten thousand words long, so should be quicker to edit. I am then unsure if I will pitch it to publishers or self-publish. Like most chapter books for younger readers, I do want to add some images and I am not that good at drawing, so if I go down the self-published route it may look less professional. Oh well, I will just get the story finished first. So, what is it about? Well, you will have to wait!

So that is it, that is where I am at. Hopefully from the notes above you might see something that interests you, and even better, it might be out soon, or by the end of the year, or maybe by the end of the millennium! Here’s hoping, bye.

Islands of Hope Update – 04/07/2020

I said I thought updates would be about four hundred words for the next few weeks as I know what I want to write, so I was prepared to tell you how I failed. But the other night I just got my hands to my keyboard and typed, in fact I almost did not get four hundred words of ‘Islands of Hope’ as I was typing on another project. However, I forced myself to switch for this update and managed it. So, this week we have more of the battle between Solomon, Imka and the Princips’ soldiers. Again, I am not sure how amazing the writing is, but it is exciting stuff. This update finishes this little section of battle and next week we move back into the air where the rebels think they might have a plan that is working, how wrong can they be?! Anyway, for now you can read some more of Chapter 48 on wattpad by clicking here, or start from the beginning here.