Preparing To Be A Guest On A Podcast

K.M. Allan

Being a modern writer has a lot of perks. We get to use computers and grammar checkers to craft our masterpieces.

We also have social media to get the word out about our work on a global scale.

Another advantage of modern technology is podcasts, and how anyone with a microphone and one of those wonderful computers can have one.

While some writers start a podcast themselves, others are asked by said podcasts to be a guest.

While you might think you need to be a big name or have a bestseller to guest on a podcast, that’s not the case.

If you have a platform, like a blog, a popular social media account, or if you’re a well-known/interactive member of the writing community, there’s always a chance you’ll be asked by someone.

Now, we all know your first instinct will be to turn it down. You’ll go through…

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The Imposition of Restrictions

The following was written by Stuart Aken and not by the owner of abitsa. Any comments should be directed to him, on his website at

Stuart Aken

Stuart Aken

Mar 3


2 min read

The Imposition of Restrictions

Image created by author using

We now live in a world where information is ubiquitous, overwhelming in quantity, often dubious, and yet essential to our survival. Our problem in the Western region of our world is one of overload. But there are lands, too many, where people are denied access to much information, and it’s for those people this short piece is intended.
If the authorities in charge of your country, state, group, or congregation restrict your access to information from any source, they’ll tell you they do it for your own good. This is always a lie. There‘s only one reason authorities restrict information: because it undermines their power. That is it.
Any person or organisation that censors, restricts, removes or destroys information does so from the fear of being questioned. If subjects are kept uninformed, it is much easier to control them. This is true whether the authority in question is political, as in the obvious cases of Russia, China, and North Korea (there are many others, of course), or religious in nature, as in Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, (again, there are many other situations where religion rules).
The first duty of any individual, whoever you are, wherever you live, is to question those in charge. Failure to do so makes the people as guilty of potential crimes as the leaders who commit them. And, if restrictions are so draconian as to make questions difficult to raise, those subject to such restriction must ask why, what is it your overlords are terrified you might discover? That they’re lying to you? That there are other ways to see the world? That you’ve been kept ignorant in order to control you? Because, it’s undeniable that restrictions on information are placed only to protect those who make such impositions. There’s no other reason.
Sorry if this is blindingly obvious to many readers. It’s intended for those deprived of knowledge and information, and those who impose such restrictions.

#Words and #PictureOfTheDay: 28/Feb/22

Stuart Aken

Another month closes, ending the meteorological winter of the UK and summoning the sunshine of the coming spring. A welcome change following a time of necessary restriction, incompetent governance, divisive political moves, and threats of war.
So I give you a picture of hope for better weather, better places, better times to come. The sunset here is from an isolated Greek taverna, the Paradiso, high in the coastal mountains on the island of Crete, taken in a summer some years ago when such trips were easy.

A few of my pictures appear in the Gallery.
And you’ll find many more here for use in calendars, greetings cards, jigsaws, advertising, or anything else you fancy in print or online, or as art quality prints to decorate your home or office.

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Fixing A Stuck Scene

K.M. Allan

As writers, we’ve all been there. Enthusiastic to start a project one minute, doing everything to avoid working on it the next.

While you could claim distractions, work, responsibilities, and life are impeding your writing progress, sometimes, the reason you can’t get any words down is that you’ve got a stuck scene.

Fixing A Stuck Scene

A stuck scene happens when you have a much-needed scene for your story, but you can’t write it at all or pen it in a way that works. It’s a frustrating problem to have.

Writing your way through hasn’t helped and has only left you with a half-finished draft, a totally boring complete scene, or an ending that isn’t doing what it’s supposed to.

If that sounds like a scene you’re working on, these tips might help fix it…

Brainstorm/What If?

While an initial idea kicked off the scene, it hasn’t translated to…

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Writing Routine Helper: Daily Notes

K.M. Allan

Who has come across the writing advice to leave a writing session mid-sentence and make a note of where to pick up the next day?

It’s something I heard years ago and have used in the past.

Just recently, I was editing my latest draft and not feeling enthusiastic about it. I’m already a few months into the edit and only have five new scenes to write. In an ideal world, I’d be done by now, but it’s taking f-o-r-e-v-e-r instead.

During this one session, as I was finishing for the day, I remembered that old advice and jotted down where I thought the new scene should go next. It was only a few sentences and scant on details, but it was enough for me to close my laptop, actually excited about coming back to the scene the next day. Anyone who is months long into an edit knows how…

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Editing Tips: What To Check When It Feels Like Something Is Missing

Editing Tips: What To Check When It Feels Like Something Is Missing by K.M. Allan

K.M. Allan

Well, you did it. You took that spark of an idea, fleshed it out into an entire book, edited the last page for the last time, and finished one final read-through.

The book is done. At least it should be. As proud as you were, there was a little voice in your head as you scanned those sentences and absorbed the full story. A little voice that nagged it wasn’t ready yet.

While a book may never be finished for the author, sometimes it’s more than just being a perfectionist.

If you hear a little voice during a read-through, listen to it. Most likely, it’s picking up on the things a reader will, like that cliffhanger line falling flat or that scene feeling rushed.

You’re missing “something” but you’re not sure what. To help, here’s a list of things to check and then fill in to polish your book to…

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Here’s looking at you–if the provincial government get its act together

Bloodshot eyes

In the last post about eye care in Ontario, called The Eyes Have It, I informed you about a strike between optometrists and the Ford government in Ontario. Unfortunately, not much has changed. The media doesn’t seem terribly interested in the fact a strike is going on, that very young Ontarians aren’t getting eye examinations they may need badly, that students who have obvious problems seeing the blackboard can’t get an exam, and seniors cannot access a service they really need (How old is you driver Doug?). In short any OHIP-covered patients including kids, teens, seniors, people receiving ODSP or OW support, and people with eye diseases or diabetes cannot get an eye exam.

In 2011 the previous arrangement between the provincial government and the Ontario Association of Optometrists (OAO) came to an end. Between then and now, the current provincial government did nothing to avert a strike. This is not an issue Doug Ford cannot blame on another political party. When he became premier of Ontario it became his problem, and he did what he does best – he ignored the problem till there was no alternative but for the OAO to start a job action. In other words because of Fords inaction they were forced to go on on strike.


Here’s a video where the minister of Health Christine Elliott can be seen dancing around a very straight forward question regarding eye care in Ontario. .

It’s an uncomfortably long video, but if you fast forward to the 40:15 point you’ll discover how confusing her response is. If you have insomnia this should cure it. A much shorter video (4:36 seconds) can be found here

Let’s cut through the baloney, misinformation, and screwed up “facts” from Health Minister and Deputy Premier Christine Elliott

Christine Elliott, 66, senior

  • Number of days the Ministry of Health stayed in mediation with OAO before THEY walked away from the table in August: 2

  • Number of counter-offers the Ministry of Health gave the OAO after they’re FIRST and only proposed offer was made during those 2 days of mediated negotiations: 0

  • If the Health Minister and Deputy Premier need new glasses to read SHE WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO GET AN EYE EXAM. She’s a senior. The longer she drags this issue out the more her eyesight will deteriorate.

  • The number of phone calls and/or emails the OAO has received from the Ministry of Health to return to the table since seniors and children have lost access to eyecare two months ago: 0 – Zero.

  • The OAO is still waiting for Minister Elliott’s team to return to the bargaining table, while they remain focused on making publicity stunts and publicizing “alternate facts” in the media.

  • It is not fair nor reasonable to expect optometrists to pay out of pocket to provide OHIP-insured services.

  • Ontario optometrists provide over 4 million OHIP-insured eye care services ANNUALLY. In the last decade, Ontario optometrists provided over 34 million OHIP-insured eye care services. $39 million divided among 34 million services is a paltry $1.15 per service. An indication of what the government thinks of this job action.

  • Doug Ford has said countless times (and if you include audio-visual clips from the media played thousands of times) that he is for “the little guy”. The “little guy” needs they’re eyes examined. Be a leader and settle this job action. Your actions will determine how many people vote, and an election is just a few months away.

  • Optometrists did not ask for a retroactive payment at all but instead asked for any payment be put toward investing in a sustainable eye care system for the future.

  • The government imposed the payment but did not consult with optometrists as to how to distribute the payment. The government sent money to optometrists who have moved, retired and died. (You can tell this is a government operation).

  • The one-time payment does nothing to solve the eye care crisis and is a waste of taxpayers’ dollars.

  • Physician compensation and optometrist compensation is not an “apples-to-apples” comparison for various reasons. One such reason: Ontario physicians are the second-highest paid physicians in all of Canada; meanwhile, Ontario optometrists receive the lowest compensation rates across the country.

  • The Ministry of Health was asked to participate in a cost analysis study of overhead expenses for providing eye exams in December 2020; however, the Ministry of Health declined to participate. (The Ministry wants to be able to say “you paid for the study, so naturally it will say what you want it to say”).

  • As baby boomers enter into their senior years of life, they have an increased risk of developing cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration. A surge in seniors with more complex eye care needs is inundating optometry offices.

images (1)Just remember, if your child thinks your glasses are a toy and you need new ones, forget that idea. You’ll need an exam. Especially if you’ve been in an accident.

89babd06bb64d8fdcfa303fdf70319ad41c87c03-image5Students who can’t read their laptop have only the provincial government to thank for their lousy grades. In-class or virtual, if you can’t see what’s in front of you means you’re screwed. And you can thank the ministry of heath for that.

In summary…

Christine Elliott, our minister of health, will probably continue to muddy the waters, fabricate so called “truths”, manufacture “facts”, and mangle reality beyond all recognition. My eye doctor hoped this job action would have been over in early fall. No such luck. Christine Elliott, and the ministry of health, have been uncommunicative as usual. Doug Ford will probably swoop in just weeks before the election, and straighten out the Elliott-induced catastrophe. Jus remember Doug…voters are watching. And angry voters don’t vote the way you want them to.

lookin' at you

Watching and waiting Doug. And waiting…and waiting…and waiting.      

Self-Publishing (The Right Way) Is Not Free

Every writer should read this. Please note: I did not write this article.

The PBS Blog

I read a book a couple of weekends ago. I feel it has the utmost potential. To be clear, this isn’t a book from my book review service. I read this book on my own time from an author I do not know. I enjoyed the testimony; I loved the cover, and I can relate to much of the information.

Unfortunately, the book was in such terrible need of editing and formatting that it was troublesome to get through, which broke my heart. I am not usually ultra-sensitive to typos and such when reading a book for leisure. I am only irritated when the errors are so bad I can’t enjoy or understand the story.

I could tell very little money went into this book’s production just from reading it.

That is when I knew what I wanted to write to you as we enter this new month.

I know…

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The Eyes Have It

lookin' at you

Eyes. You have them. I have them. And I want to keep mine in tip-top shape. But the provincial government, the one led by Doug Ford, the one so concerned with vaccines and shots, doesn’t seem to care about your sight.

On September 1 the optometrists in this province went on strike. Doug Ford and the current minister of health the Honorable Christine Elliott don’t want you to know it has a problem they may not be able to handle.

On Sept. 1, 2021 this happened.

Optometrists stopped giving eye exams to:

  • Children, toddlers, and children in school needing glasses
  • Adults with pre-existing conditions (near sighted, far sighted, etc.)
  • All seniors

Why Is This Happening? 

  • For more than 30 years the government has not formally negotiated with Ontario optometrists
  • There continues to be a growing gap between inflation and investment in eye care.
  • In 1989, the Ontario government paid $39.15 for an OHIP-insured eye exam. Today, they pay only $44.65 per exam leaving the optometrist to pay the remainder out of their own pockets.
  • That fee does not come anywhere close to covering office expenses such as staff, rent, utilities, equipment, and supplies required to provide an eye exam.

What’s the solution?

There is only one solution. We need the government to commit to a binding, formal negotiation process – the same way they do with other health care sectors like the Ontario Medical Association – to ensure quality eye care for everyone in Ontario, today and in the future. Optometrists are doctors. Remember when the Ford government wanted us to thank front line workers?They are trying to ignore optometrists, and not pay them a living wage.

I’m not a senior yet (that happens next month), but I can’t get an exam because I have a pre-existing eye condition. My wife is in the same situation. We don’t like being caught in the middle of this strike/job action. The last time I had an eye exam was in December of 2018. I picked up my “new” glasses in January of 2019. I’m already having trouble reading. Sometimes, I’m not sure if I read an “L” or a “B”. In 2022 there will be a provincial election, and Doug Ford as well as Christine Elliott will want to get re-elected. With a aging population, and a great many eye exams being postponed because of a narrow minded tight fisted government, it will be interesting to see, (pun not intended), if anybody will be able to read the ballot.

squinting (1)

An Excess Of…Gifts.

Stuart Aken

In just ten weeks millions of gifts will be exchanged around the world. Before that, in less than two weeks, much money will be spent on ephemeral trappings associated with Halloween. More money will be literally sent up in smoke as fireworks a few days later. And, all over the world, regardless of creed, chosen deity, or secular event, people will spend time and money celebrating various festivals, giving gifts, decorating floats, visiting far off shrines and so much more.
Celebration of these, usually, annual events often results in the giving of items people neither need nor want, but nevertheless expect to receive. Doesn’t that strike you as odd? Or has the machinery and persuasive power of capitalistic PR completely convinced you of the need to be part of these activities of excess?

I hear the howls of denial and justification, the taunts of ‘spoilsport’ and worse. But I ask…

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