cosmetics, food, health, nutition

Gluten For Punishment

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Yeah, I know it’s a pun. Sorry but I was looking for a title for this one and, frankly, that was the only thing that came to mind. Please bear with me, though. I think this might be of interest to a lot of people who, like me, are concerned about our health but wonder about all the healthy food in the grocery store and whether the added expense is worth it.

First of all, I’m not a nutritionist. But I know how to research things and rarely am I persuaded to follow a food fad. I eat whatever I like that I can afford. I exercise when I consume too many calories because taking the pounds off takes a lot longer than putting the pound on. I figure there are a lot of people out there who are like me. I’ve heard a lot of about gluten free foods. Whenever something is new and has a lot of buzz it seems like everyone starts to jump on it like it’s the solution to everything imaginable that is wrong. I’m suspicious of hype, especially when something costs significantly more.

I’ve tried some gluten free foods and I have to say they aren’t bad. But how much good do they do for the body?Are they worth it?

First of all, what is gluten? According to Wikipedia:

  • Gluten is a protein composite found in wheat and related grains, including barley and rye. Gluten gives elasticity to dough, helping it rise and keep its shape and often gives the final product a chewy texture. Gluten is used in cosmetics, hair products, and other dermatological preparations.

So, it the component in grain that allows bread to rise when the grain interacts with yeast. There are other ways of producing fluffy breads, though, but, of course, that costs extra money.

Is gluten bad for you? If you have a medical condition that requires eliminating gluten from your diet, you obviously need to be extremely aware and conscious of what is in your food. Pain, often severe, is the consequence of eating the wrong things.

It is estimated that at least 15% of the population is gluten intolerant. According to Mind Body Green (http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-7482/10-signs-youre-gluten-intolerant.html) Here are 10 signs of gluten intolerance:

1. Digestive issues such as gas, bloating, diarrhea and even constipation. I see the constipation particularly in children after eating gluten.
2. Keratosis Pilaris, (also known as ‘chicken skin’ on the back of your arms). This tends be as a result of a fatty acid deficiency and vitamin A deficiency secondary to fat-malabsorption caused by gluten damaging the gut.
3. Fatigue, brain fog or feeling tired after eating a meal that contains gluten.
4. Diagnosis of an autoimmune disease such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Rheumatoid arthritis, Ulcerative colitis, Lupus, Psoriasis, Scleroderma or Multiple sclerosis.
5. Neurologic symptoms such as dizziness or feeling of being off balance.
6. Hormone imbalances such as PMS, PCOS or unexplained infertility.
8. Diagnosis of chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia. These diagnoses simply indicate your conventional doctor cannot pin point the cause of your fatigue or pain.
9. Inflammation, swelling or pain in your joints such as fingers, knees or hips.
10. Mood issues such as anxiety, depression, mood swings and ADD.

If you have any of those symptoms you should see a doctor about it. But unless you have been diagnosed with a digestive disorder there is no significant evidence that eating gluten in your food is harmful other than to say anything in excess is probably not good. It is a fact that if you reduce the intake of bread, for example, you will find it easier to lose weight. That’s good news for most of us who like the taste and smell of freshly baked bread. We just need to eat it in some moderation.

Gluten Free Shampoo

Gluten is also found in many cosmetic products as well and those who have sensitivity to the protein should avoid them. Again, if you have been diagnosed, be aware of what is in the products you purchase. Otherwise, the expense if any, in using gluten free is not necessary.

So for most people it comes down to a matter of choice, whether you buy gluten free products. If you don’t have a medical reason and can afford the additional expense going gluten free is the current trend.

#gluten #glutenfree #bread #glutenintollerance

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Beards, Razors and Marketing

Maybe a weird kind of topics for a writer’s blog, but bear with me. This could raise a bit of controversy in a $13 Billion a year industry. You see, I think the whole thing about shaving is overdone.

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It’s a matter of personal taste and grooming, isn’t it? To shave or not to shave. Most guys know the cleanest shave comes from a barber with a single edge blade that is sharp as hell. The barber prepares the client with a hot towel to soften the tiny facial hair follicles while he hones the blade with a letter sharpening strap. This was how it was done for decades. And I dare to say it is still the best way to get a truly close shave.

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So the personal shaving business came about because men’s grooming requirements for business in our modern age dictates daily shaves. Maintaining facial hair took a back seat. Most businesses allow for mustaches and some might allow well maintained bears, meaning something like that worn by a British man’s man not the standard Duck Dynasty or Z Z Top kind of monumental feature. You see, in the past men did not go to a barber daily for a shave and a haircut. They took periodic trips (weekly, bi-weekly, etc) depending on their personal standards. With the advent of the personal razor and shaving cream, men had the option to scrape the tiny hairs off their cheeks, chins and throats every morning – and for some men in the evening before going out.

Now, some of you may know I have sported a mustache and/or a beard for certain spans over the years. At present my part-time employer requires a neatly tripped mustache but does not allow a beard. Being a little tired of how I look with a mustache alone, I shaved it off earlier this year, around my birthday, actually. A couple of months prior to that, when I was still diligently looking for a job to supplement my income as a writer, I shaved off a beard I had worn for well over seven years – at varying lengths.

Razor Burn

I’ve had to get used to shaving regularly. It causes some problems. It irritates sensitive skin, especially after wearing a beard for so long. Also, those of us who have naturally curly hair, and especially men with nappy roots, can develop a condition called
pseudofolliculitis barbae, also known as barber’s itch. This happens when the sharp ends of recently cut hair follicles curve back into the skin and embed themselves producing a small pimple-like pustule. It is not something you want to have and the only real cure for it is letting your beard grow enough. But for those who must shave you can let the beard grow for the few days necessary for the sharp hairs to pull themselves out of the skin. The time interval also allows for the attendant skin rash to heal.

Now there are a plethora of shaving products out there and many treat irritated skin. Many contain alcohol which not only produces a cool kind of burning of the recently scraped skin but also toughens the skin to the daily abuse men must endure to have the clean shaven look.

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Now, lets enter the marketing realm and take a look at the crass business side of things along with the development of electric and multi-blade razors. First off electric razors are a ;poor substitute for a wet shave, in my opinion. I’ve owned one and like most men who received one as a gift at one or more points in life it wound up stuffed in a drawer after a period of less than satisfying use. Do they work at all? Yes, they remove beard from sight. Pretreating the skin and beard aids in creating the feel of a close shave but I think most men prefer lathering up and shaving – if they need to shave at all.

I occurs to me that electric roars, including the more recent wet electric roars – are mainly marketing gimmicks. They work well enough to be used with some modicum of overall satisfaction from the general public and a lot of time, effort and expense has gone into researching and development of improved products over the years. But nothing compared to the barber’s shave as the standard of excellence.

1956 Pal InjectoMatic Injector Razor (2)Injector

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In the quest for a personally substitute for a trip to the barber we’ve seen straight razors evolve into injector blade roars, doubled edged razors (that allowed one to flip it over to continue shaving before ring off the accumulated amalgam of beard and saving cream) and multiple blade razors.

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I am old enough to recall the first wave of double blade products and the initial pitches – usually during televised sporting events. There was one commercial in particular that simple amazed me and prompted me to replicate the ‘test’ in a mocking way using the edge of one of my first credit cards. The commercial purported to demonstrate how much closer the see of a man;s face way when it was shaved with a double blade roar as opposed to a single edged one. What a marketing coup! The problem is that the less than scientific evidence was easily faked as I demonstrated many times by applying more pressure to the credit card when running it over the stubble of my face.

The principle behind the double blade roars was that the first blade pulled the hair out slightly and the second blade comes along quickly, before the beard hair has time to recover and it lops it off a second time, supposedly below the skin’s surface. After wards the shaven hair is naturally tugged back into the skin, just below the surface. Of course, I would be concerned that this would promote the aforementioned irritated skin condition,if, in fact, what was really happening was that the beard was being trimmed twice, at different levels. Personally, I doubt that the second blade is actually cutting the hair off before it has time to revert to its rest state int he skin. I’m pretty sure the beard snaps back faster than any number of blades could come along and lop it off again. So the whole multi blade roar phenomenon is a mostly marketing gimmick.

multibladerazor

If two blades are better than one, what about three? Four? Five?  Look at the genius of this. The blade manufacturers can sell you five blades at a time and five or more time the cost of a single blade and…imagine this, you will be forced to use it fewer times because of the close proximity of the blade and the difficulty cleaning away the debris that gums up the gap between the blades. The more blades and the closer they are spaced together the worse the situation. So, you are getting two, three, four or five blades and paying two, three, four or five times what you would pay for a single blade. They are made in a process that bonds thin metal foil to a flexible strip of mylar The sharpness outlasts the utility of the blade unless you figure out how to clear away the debris with an old toothbrush or some precision dental instrument. Even so, the blades have often been decided to limit the amount if flow through from the front to the back, enhancing the likelihood that a clog of hair and cream will render the device useless.

So, I’m pretty sure that by design these multiple blade razors were a means of getting men to pay more some something that by design they will be able to use less before replacing. That’s how an industry grows.

All razors work well enough. There is probably some minor increase in closeness of a shave from multiple blade razors because, after all, two blades would, in theory, reduce the number of stroked the shaver must be pulled across the face, regardless of whether it actually cuts the beard below the skin’s surface. But the downside is the increased expense of the blades and the diminished longevity of utility. So more blades me more money and fewer shaves per dollar spent.

#shaving #razors #barbers #marketing #beards #RazorBurn

 

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A Tree Born Crooked by Steph Post – Coming September 30

One week from today A Tree Born Crooked by Steph Post will be available from Amazon in both Kindle and paperback. You can still pre-order so that you will automatically receive your Kindle download the moment it is released.

Front Cover

A little over a year ago I met Steph at and online get together for Pandamoon Publishing. We are both part of a select group, what I’m sure will someday be referred to as the ‘First Gen’ Pandas. In the past few months I’ve gotten the chance to get to know her and work with her on a few projects as well as interact with her in conference calls and meetings. We have interviewed one another and and shared ideas on a number of topics related to writing. She has to be one of the nicest people I know. Having read A Tree Born Crooked a couple of times, now, I’m in awe of her skill as a writer.

Steph Post 2Steph

She is one of the rare one-third of Floridians who are native, born in St. Augustine and raised in the land of contrast: beaches and swamps, pine trees and palms, sunbathers and sunburn, alligators and ‘crackers’…well, you get the idea. Currently she teaches at a high school for the performing arts in the west central portion of the state, is married and plays mom to a couple of very cute dogs. She is obsessed with the TV show Justified and is extremely supportive of other authors and their work.

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Her book is about the side of Florida that people may not see all that often but that doesn’t mean it’s not here. She writes in a style that is authentic to her roots developing memorable characters.

“James Hart, with a tough-as-nails exterior and an aching emptiness inside, does not want to go home. Yet when James receives a postcard from his mother, Birdie Mae, informing him of his father’s death, he bites the bullet and returns to the rural and stagnant town of Crystal Springs, Florida, a place where dreams are born to die. James is too late for Orville’s funeral, but just in time to become ensnared in the deadly repercussions of his younger brother Rabbit’s life of petty crime. When Rabbit is double crossed by his cousin in a robbery-turned-murder, James and a local bartender, the unsettling and alluring Marlena Bell, must come up with a plan to save Rabbit’s skin. A whirlwind road trip across the desolate Florida panhandle ensues as James tries to stay one step ahead of the vengeful Alligator Mafia and keep his brother alive. With bullets in the air and the ghosts of heartache, betrayal and unspeakable rage haunting him at every turn, James must decide just how much he is willing to risk to protect his family and find a way home.”

A Tree Born Crooked Promo copy 10494540_731133296933295_2942649078238852206_n

#StephPost #ATreeBornCrooked #NewReleaseBooks #Florida #GritLit

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Biking USA – Orlando Style

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Many of you know that I ride a bike to and from work. Pretty much I ride a bike everywhere that I need to go. You may also know that Orlando, where I live, is not what I’d call a biker-friendly city. Few places in America are. And the alternatives to using an automobile for commuting are few. Mass transit here exists but is largely a joke when trying to reach most places. But that’s a subject for another blog.

This time we are focusing on the experience of riding a bike in O-town. And since road rage for a biker could very easily turn into road rash I thought a more passive aggressive approach might be best for venting some of my frustrations with my commutes.

  1. Shards of glass from broken bottles. I’m not certain why it is necessary for some people to break bottles on the sidewalk but it is enough of a problem that there are at least a couple of mine fields I have to navigate in my commute. A few times I have halted and brushed the glass into the grass , which I’m sure presents an entirely different hazard for someone or something walking along the side of the walkways.
  2. Wild animal obstacles such as deer, armadillos, tortoises, cranes and – my personal favoraite, – kamakazi geckos. Unlike the cute little guy in the Geico commercials, these are small lizards that regardless which side of sidewalk Ithey happen to be on and whichever side of the sidewalk I am riding my bike, they will invariably make a mad dash to the side furthest from them thus exposing them to the great probability of being run over. I really try to avoid them as I do not like harming any living thing but sometimes its unavoidable and the carcass becomes a feast for the ants that I see the next day as I ride through. Yet, undaunted other geckos play their version of frogger, which we will call Lizzer, with my bike tires.
  3. No matter the direction iI raide it is always into the wind. Yes, I get it that if I am doing twenty miles per hour that means that even on a calm day that is at least a twenty mile-per-hour headwind. But it always seems the wind is actually blowing in my face even when I stop the bike.
  4. Pedestrians sharing the sidewalk tend to be text messaging or wearing earbuds – sometimes both – and not paying ay attention to my calling for their attention so that I can safely pass by them. Then they seem upset that I scared them or that I would dare use the same sidewalk they walk on for riding a bike. Well, you talk to the city about putting in bike lanes. I’ve tried. They claim they need to have enough biker demand in an area to justify it but I feel it is more a matter that if they built the lane more people might use bikes for short trips. Heaven forbid that a city might be laid out with some intelligence for that the people who live in it are not totally dependent on automobiles. Again, that’s a subject for another blog.
  5. Spider webs in the dark are a periodic hazard that allows me to demonstrate my superior no-hand bike pedaling ninja skills. Unfortunately it is also dark and very few people have ever witnessed the spectacle. It is quite impressive though.
  6. Trees branches overhanging the sidewalk are largely invisible in the dark, even with a bike light. They are just low enough for me to run my head into because the people who maintain the landscape trim the trees to accommodate those on foot and people who are not basketball players.
  7. Other bikers and/or joggers coming the opposite direction are also a problem, especially if the sidewalk is narrow. It’s hard to judge distance and whether there is enough room, so usually one, the other of both take to the grass and hope that there isn’t any of the aforementioned shards of broken glass hidden.
  8. School Crossing guards with school kids in the queue present one of those strange situations. If you wait to cross with the kids the drivers who are waiting look at you funny. What’s a fifty-something man doing going to school anyway?
  9. The busier intersections having walk lights that cycle whenever the oncoming traffic is halted. And then the countdown starts when you are in the middle of the intersections as if to subtly say hurry up your slow ass. Cars wanting to make a right turn on red think the biker is waiting to cross in front of them so they sit miffed that I’m not going with the light – in the other direction – before it occurs to them that I am waiting..
  10. And my favorite, the 9:30 PM pup chase. You see, my neighbor lets his two dogs out to do their business and if I happen to come home around that time, both dogs give chase. They have ambitions of catching me, though I’m not sure they would know what to do with me. Refer back to my ninja skills. One of the dogs has long enough legs to give a decent pursuit provided he was in better shape. The other’s legs are shorter than his grand ambitions of catching me.

There you have it., the ten things I least like bout riding my bike to and from work.

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#biking #commute #humor #alternativetransportation

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Some Thoughts On The Unbounded Series by Teyla Branton

The Reckoning

There are at least two ways to write a series and variations on each. The author must decide whether to write each book as a stand-alone or write the entire series in draft and then work on finishing each book one at a time. Then he or she must deal with the necessary backstory elements in some relevant way before continuing with telling the overall tale.

I’m not sure what is the best overall approach. It may depend on the story. It might differ by the author as well but ultimately the expectations of the reader prevail in determining the success of the author;s effort.

It may seem silly to write a series and pretend that each book is a stand alone to the extent of recapping every major point of the series in each of the books. Then again, it depends on how much of a lag there are between releases of the parts of the series. Publishers require the author of a series to write at least a summary of the major points of each preceding book and present it as a Forward to any sequel.

The problem with recapping the facts from the former books into each new installment is that when the series is completely published and a reader can start at the beginning and read straight through the recapping is sometimes glaringly redundant. A good case can be made for a synopsis added into a Forward in that when a reader is plowing through an entire series sequentially he or she would have the option to skip that material or use it as more of a reference.

The real problem I have with providing the backstory is that it distracts from advancing the story.

I mention all this because until reading Teyla Branton’s Unbounded Series I hadn’t really felt that any author did a particularly good job with recapping the previous story while telling of a sequel. Anyone wanting to see how to do it well should read Branton’s four books: The Change, The Cure, The Escape and The Reckoning. She treats background as almost an unobtrusive reminder of what went on as it relates to the present dilemmas. This is an excellent approach.

It is  in the nature of a serial that the larger story spans several books with interim climaxes and cliff hangers. Branton constructs her series well, establishing the main characters in the first book, then adding in other important characters as the plot progresses. The resulting flow feels natural enough despite the paranormal story stretching possibilities. At the conclusion the major questions have been answered and the conflicts addressed sufficiently to end the story. But there is enough left in the background to ruminate and fester in the readers’ minds in case Branton decides to continue the storyline in another series. Personally I hope there is another series – Unbounded II?.

By the time The Reckoning begins Erin has become as seriously badass as her principal love interest, Ritter, but in a complementary way both physically and emotionally. As their bond has grown so has their connection through their skill set as evidences in thwarting the efforts of both The Hunters and the Emporium.

The Reckoning delivers us into the aftermath of The Escape. Erin has a little present her nemesis Delia left inside her. The mystery is not only what is the black coiled snakelike thing but also how to get rid of it – or at least keep it contained and controlled. We also discover the identity of the near corpse that was rescued at the end of The Escape. As has been the case all along the reader is in for a wild ride as the Renegades battle the Emporium.

Despite how well Branton does her thing with bringing the reader back up to speed while continuing the story, I highly recommend reading this story from the beginning. No worries, though. The Change is Free to download. So consider it a way of giving the series a test drive before you buying into it. Be warned, you will end up reading all four books, though – just because it is that kind of story.

Teyla Branton

#TeylaBranton #Unbounded #TheReckoning #Paranormal #Renegades #Emporium

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Author Ken Donaldson Interviews Me

I’m not enigmatic and I’m not reclusive though it occurs to me that some think I am. It’s probably because I spend a lot of time in my creative space writing and because of that I’m not out carousing. Anyway, in an effort to tell more people about me I’ve been giving interviews. The following is a recent one my good friend and Australian author Ken Donaldson did with me and posted on Goodreads. It is used here with his permission.

Ken Donaldson

KD: I have seen you online, as I am sure many other readers have who are familiar with you from the self-publishing forums. Give us a little insight into your background as a writer.

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EW: Since I was 13 years old I have wanted to be a writer. I recall picking out a pseudonym that I have never used. In high school I wrote a few creative things and was a co-editor of my high school’s newspaper. That’s how I became interested in journalism, which is what I studied at Purdue University. While there I took several writing and literature courses and wrote a manuscript, portions of which eventually were incorporated into my first published novel, From the Inside. A few years later, while I was in the Air Force I served as a historian for my unit and composed an award winning 400+ page document, which was technically my first publication. Over the years I suppose my various muses and I have not always been on the best of terms. At one point I decided that I needed a lot more life experience before I could write the kinds of novels I wanted to produce. Mostly, I think I had to find my author’s voice and, of course, establish a better connection with my personal muse. In the mid 1990’s I drew together my notes and drafts that turned into the manuscript of my first novel in 2001.

KD: Tell me what other authors do you enjoy, who inspired you or influenced you the most to become a writer?

EW: I drew a little from Kurt Vonnegut Jr. and Douglas Adams. I like the sense of irony in the works of both men. Also I particularly enjoyed Samuel R. Delany, Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein. I read a lot of sci-fi and fantasy. In college I learned to appreciate a variety of other genres. I was particularly fond of Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha, Steppenwolf and Beneath The Wheel. Ernest Hemmingway was someone whose simple writing style I came to admire. Lately I’ve been enjoying a number of up and coming authors like Teyla Branton, Karen Perkins and Margaret Snowden. There are a lot of really gifted storytellers out there who at the moment are obscure but I’m confident you’ll be hearing about them very soon. I’m fortunate to call many of them my friends.

KD: What made you decide upon the genre you are currently pursuing?

EW: As I said before, I read a lot of sci-fi and fantasy when I was younger. So it felt pretty natural to slip into that genre. It affords a writer great latitude in expressing his or her creativity. Since I’ve been told I have a wild and vivid imagination I tend to push the boundaries a bit and have never felt confined to the real world. Reality is an illusion, anyway.

KD: What is special about how you write? Do you have any set routine of method you follow?

EW: Early in the morning seems to be my most productive time, before the world around me wakes. When I start laying out a novel, I create the character profiles first and through dialogue I allow the characters to expose the conflicts. Later I go back and write the narrative pieces that connect things together, describing the settings and establishing the mood. Otherwise it is used to facilitate action sequences. However, sometimes the action is delivered through arguments between the characters. Novels with excessive narrative can be tedious to read and I personally feel narrative is more boring than dialogue. A reader should feel as if he or she is part of the story, maybe one of the characters or a bystander listening and observing what’s going on. Dialogue can drive a story in an immediately intimate and compelling way. The realism of the exchanges between characters is key to telling a story. I spend a lot of time making certain that dialogue flows well and sounds as natural as possible.

KD: What are the future plans you see for your writing next?

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EW: I’m working on a sequel to Fried Windows and several other projects. Always have at least two or three things going on at a time so that whenever one hits a snag you can move on to another. That is how I combat writer’s block. The next novel I have coming out is Becoming Thuperman, which is scheduled for release in January 2015. It’s a fun departure from Fried Windows about two kids – a boy and a girl – who are best friends. It’s summer vacation and like most kids they enjoy riding their bikes to the community park where they play baseball. There’s a big scary dog that lives down the street in the old house that everyone says is haunted. A spinster and her brother live there. Oh, and by the way, the kids are just discovering that superpowers run in their families.

KD: Do you have any brief thoughts in passing you would like to share with the readers?

EW: I’d like to express my gratitude for everyone’s support of my writing. There are more authors out there these days and there’s a wide variety of stories from which to choose a next favorite read. When someone tells me they have enjoyed Fried Windows or one of my other books it makes my day. Every author feels the same way. If you love an author’s work support him or her with a review – just a couple of lines telling other potential readers what you liked about the book. You don’t realize how important that is in the decision process for the reader or for the success of an author’s story reaching as many people as possible.

KD: I do wish you all the best in the future. Certainly has been a real pleasure Talk with you Elgon. That is where we conclude this Interview.

Link to Ken’s Amazon Author’s Page:

http://www.amazon.com/Ken-Donaldson/e/B00E6Y02E0

Link to Elgon’s Amazon Author’s Page:

http://www.amazon.com/Elgon-Williams/e/B001K8TYXU

#Interview #ElgonWilliams #KenDonaldson #Writing #Authors