Category Archives: Da Book

RTW

I've just phoned the resource centre at work to let them know that I'm fit to return to work. My first shift is a Sunday late shift – and I can't wait.

(Of course, give it two weeks and I'll be screaming to come off the road again…)

—–

On Saturday I shall be at the MCM London Expo indulging in my inner nerd. If you ant to stop me and have a chat please do feel free – I don't bite*.

—–

For those that are interested, my calendar is starting to fill up with PR/Marketing stuff around 'More Blood, More Sweat And Another Cup Of Tea' – more of which as it approaches. There is at least one national TV slot lined up.

—–

How do you check to see if an ID card is genuine? Flick it with your finger and see what noise it makes. (I wish I had the energy to find the actual government website that gives this advice).

—–

*Insert standard joke 'unless you want me to…' which is, I believe, a legal requirement.

Giving Things Away = Better Sales

I'm mentioned in this column for 5th estate,

Scott Pack, publisher of The Friday Project, shares this philosophy. Acquired by HarperCollins last year, The Friday Project operates under an innovative publishing model – releasing titles under Creative Common licenses and distributing digital copies of books for free. According to Pack, they “have always experienced positive sales as a result of giving away free books.” When the Friday Project made one of their most successful titles, Blood, Sweat and Tea, available as a free downloand from their website, sales immediately jumped. The results of giving away free books has been so consistently positive, in fact, that Pack plans to find even more for creative ways to give the follow up, ‘More Blood, More Sweat and Another Cup of Tea’, away for free. “We are looking to make More Blood…available for free on any platform we can, as well as creating an Issuu widget so that anyone else can share it as well.”

Which is good, it's always been my belief that giving away my book leads to more sales and it's nice to see that we have the numbers to prove that. If it didn't sell more I don't think that Harper would let me release book two in a similar way,in fact in a way that makes the free download even more attractive and easier to obtain.

I'm really happy that Scott is handling my book.

Excuses, Excuses

The last week was a week off from my 'day job', (is it still a day job if you work nights I wonder), what this let me do was catch up on all the things that I can't do when I'm working. What this really means is that my 'week off' was a week spent in meetings, plotting plans, doing writing work and other such things.

This week is also going to be a busy one, not only do I have forty-eight hours of ambulance work, I also have a PR conference where I am a panel guest. I also have the final changes to the sequel to Blood, Sweat and Tea to have in by the end of the week – with some luck I'll have some interesting news about both books in the near future.

Then I need to start planning out the narrative arcs for my third book, which will be fiction – something that I've never really done before.

I'll also hopefully have some good news about a gig that is quite unlike anything else that I've done before – I'll let you know what that is as soon as I can.

Finally I'm chasing yet another writing job that could be extremely interesting.

But tucked away at the end of everything else is a regular podcast and the possibility of another website.

Oh yes, and I should write some blogposts for this blog before I get carried away…

I think I need to employ an assistant.

All of this means that my time spent doing my 'day job', my ambulance work, will be one of the few moments that I'll have to relax – which is obviously a bit strange.

For those that want to take part, this Monday's question (to be answered in the comments) is, “Tell me about a teacher that made an impact on you“. I ask this because I'm reading 'Moab is my washpot', the early autobiography of Stephen Fry where he talks about his teachers. Due to my shocking memory I can't remember any of my teachers, so I'd like to hear about yours.

On Books And Sleep

Coming off nights, I'm writing this before I go to bed – the one good thing about nightshifts is that I get to drive home to go to bed while the normal people are trudging through the rain to get to work.

The draft manuscript for the sequel to Blood, Sweat and Tea has been emailed to my publisher. More news on this as it comes.

Monday's question for you is this –

If everyone has the ability to write a book – what is the first sentence of your book?



When I emailed in my draft manuscript I also posted a little note for the copy editor – I include it here the for comedic value of all the 'gotchas' that I am blissfully ignorant of.

Note for copy editors –

Just some notes to help guide you and alert you to some of the horrific liberties I take with the English language

The [[text like this]] is formatting instructions, not me having some sort of conniption. It’s text that should be rendered in a fashion that makes it obvious that it’s a later comment on the previous post.

I’m particularly poor at getting lying/laying right, sorry about that. Normally I write myself around using these words but I may have missed a few.

Also ‘was’ and ‘were’.

And ‘which’ and ‘that’. I wish I’d paid attention in school.

I like hyphens, en-dash or em-dash, I can’t seem to get enough of them – if possible I’d like them left in as they are part of my ‘voice’ even though I know that it’s not necessarily decent grammar.

I also like ellipsis… (Which I type as three full stops, Word may have changed them into the correct character – I have no idea).

Commas followed by propositions, but sometimes I can’t help myself.

I’ve probably missed a few chances to press my semi-colon button on the keyboard. I like semi-colons but I’m a bit daft about when to use them.

I try to avoid jargon, but sometimes I can’t help myself. If you want to change EMT to E.M.T. go ahead but ORCON isn’t an acronym and so should remain as it is.

Keep an eye out for ‘ and “ I’ve possibly mixed them up – sorry. I’m also a terror for missing or adding incorrect possessive apostrophes, blame my comprehensive school education.

I use newlines and double newlines for timing, I don’t know if layout is part of your purview but some of these double newlines are intended – please bear this in mind if you change some of them (and no doubt some of them are in there by mistake)

Thank you very much for putting yourself through the trauma of trying to beat this manuscript into shape, it’s very much appreciated.

I now have a week off work which means plenty of chance for me to get some of my other projects up and running, as well as a chance to do some administration on this site.

But first… sleep.

Dear Americans

You may be interested to know that you can now get my book in the colonies without having to pay huge amounts of postage and packaging. My publishers over there are Andrews McMeel Publishing who I like a lot even if they won't pay for me to fly out and publicise it.

It should also be available in shops, so feel free to ask them to order them for you. While you are there ask them to order a few extra to put on the shelves.

It is also freely available under a Creative Commons License at Archive.orgThis lets you remix the book in any way you can think of as long as you don't charge for it and as long as you credit me.

So please, go and buy it so that I might retire to a beach somewhere to drink fruit based cocktails until I go mad with boredom. Also to give these lovely publishers some profits as well.

Radio Play Of ‘Blood, Sweat And Tea’.

There has been a little thing that I've been keeping quiet about (because when groovy stuff happens, I like to know that it is going ahead before I mention it in fear of jinxing things).

Richard Monks has turned part of my book into a Radio play for the BBC and it is due to be broadcast this coming Friday (Radio 4 – 21:00).

It was some months ago that Richard came out for a ride-along with me so that he could get an 'ear' for the language and turns of phrases that us ambulance people use. I should also say 'Thank you' to the LAS folks who let him do this. Numerous war stories were told and I think that Richard got a lot out of it.

A little while later I was sent the draft copy of the script to check for dialogue and to make sure there wasn't any huge medical errors. To be honest I didn't have to do much at all, it seemed that Richard had a firm grasp on the subject.

I was then given the chance to sit in while the play was recorded. So I found myself getting the tube to the BBC studio at Maida Vale.

As always at the BBC I was made to feel extremely welcome – Are there any nasty people at the BBC? I got to meet the cast, who were all lovely, the first person to speak to me was Liz White and I *shamefully* completely blanked on where I'd seen her before, only one of my favourite TV programmes…

I managed to take some photos, although apologies for the quality, I couldn't really bring a tripod, and a flash was out of the question as I didn't want to distract the actors as they worked.

I also got the chance to chat to Martin Freeman who plays 'Paul' in the play an ambulanceman who has a cynicism dial turned up to eleven. Martin was also a great bloke and we chatted politics over a BBC lunch.

It was also excellent, especially for a geek like me, to see how the 'wild track' was created, and to see how they made the various sound effects. An example – an ambulance trolley sounds remarkably like a knackered baby stroller. I was able to offer my opinion as to what certain bits of kit sound like. I even managed to get a part, 'voice in crowd moaning about drunk person #3'.

It was a great experience and I'd like to thank everyone involved for some really nice days out and for turning my book into a great little play.

When it gets put up as a 'Listen again' I'll pop the link up here so that people from outside the UK can hear it (I think). Also if the slideshow works, you can click on the big pictures to read the descriptions.

Schrödinger’s Sequel

Some people might have noticed that my publishers The Friday Project have gone into administration and are being sold.

What this does is place any sequel to Blood, Sweat and Tea into a kind of limbo (along with, I presume, any royalties). I know that they can't comment about it until the sale has gone through.

What I do hope is that Clare and the others who work at TFP are all alright – they have always been very nice to me and I wish them the best whatever the future holds.


From tomorrow I'm back at work – which, because I'm looking forward to it, obviously makes me bonkers.

Competition Time

As I've mentioned to a few people I'm current;y in the process of writing a sequel to 'Blood, Sweat and Tea'. This book will have the usual reprinted and updated posts with comments on them – but it will also have roughly a third new content, unseen anywhere else.

All will be released under the same Creative Commons license as the first book.

I'll keep you updated as to it's progress over the next few months.

What my publishers and I thought would be nice, would be a competition to name the new book. 'Blood, Sweat and Tea 2' just doesn't seem right, so we are opening it up my readers.

…For they already have proved themselves fine folk of distinction and taste by reading this blog in the first place…

The prize for the one we pick (or the best one if we come up with something better ourselves*) is a collection of books from The Friday Project and signed copies of both 'Blood, Sweat and Tea' and whatever the new book will be called.

All you have to do is send an email to competition@randomreality.org with your name, your suggestion and a valid return email address- the closing date is midnight on Sunday 16th December**.

Feel free to mention this on your own blogs – the more the merrier.

*Unlikely.

**All emails will be deleted after Sunday and, apart from the winner, no personal information will be stored.

More Heart Attacks

I've mentioned before about the superb care the people of London get in respect to heart attacks. They get diagnosed in the ambulance by a twelve-lead ECG, they will then get taken to a specialist centre for the gold standard treatment of an angioplasty. It is excellent and I love it, it improves the patient's outcome and gives us ambulance crews a warm fuzzy feeling to have done something other than pick up a drunkard.

I've had two such cases recently – both of them men in their early forties, both of them not recognising what was happening to them. Neither of them had any sort of medical history, it had just struck out of the blue. Both of them waited before they got treatment.

The first was an Eastern European chap who'd had pain in his chest since the morning, he'd gone to work and feeling unwell waited until his work was finished before walking to the hospital. It was only when the nurses there did the ECG that it became apparent that he was having a heart attack. We were called to 'blue light' transfer the patient to the angioplasty centre. He'd already been transferred to the CCU, so we also had a nurse coming with us. Like all CCU nurses she was excellent with the patient's care, all the paperwork was up to date, she kept explaining things to the patient to keep him informed and she treated us like professionals.

All throughout the patient didn't want to 'be a problem', he'd agree to anything, offered to help us (including walking to the ambulance!) and when he reached the angioplasty centre he told the doctor that they could 'do whatever they want with him'. He kept apologising that his English wasn't too good, but we muddled along fine.

The Consultant who performed the operation told us that once a patient had been through an angioplasty they normally gave up the smoking that nearly killed them. As this was the only risk factor the patient had, and as he was a really pleasant chap, I hoped he would find the strength to give up.

A really nice job.

The second job was picked up from the patient's place of work. Our FRU was already there and as soon as he saw us he shouted across that the patient would need a stretcher. As soon as you laid eyes on him it was obvious that the patient was having a big heart attack. He was sweating, he was clutching at his chest and he was scared that he was going to die. It was a perfect 'Hollywood heart attack'.

We wheeled him onto the ambulance where a very rapid ECG showed a big heart attack. My crewmate put the pedal to the floor while I tried to gather as much information as possible. The chest pain had started a few hours earlier, but the patient had ignored it and driven to work. He also had a phobia about needles, but the angioplasty centre managed to get the required needles into him through a combination of persuasion and brute force.

It's amazing to watch the screens as you see the blood flow return to the heart when the blockage is cleared. To know that the patient's chance of recovery is very good makes you feel that you have done a 'proper' job.

Both of these patients had a 'widowmaker' – a Left Anterior Descending Myocardial Infarction. These are the sorts of heart attack that can cause you to suddenly drop dead. Both were very lucky, despite their waiting to get treatment.

Both of these lives have been saved – but their outcome would probably be better if they had called an ambulance when they first got the symptoms.

Seriously – don't hang around with chest pain. If it's not obviously a pulled muscle (from lifting heavy objects or from coughing too much) then call an ambulance – the worst thing that can happen is that you get effective treatment quickly, the best thing is that you get a clean bill of health.

Oh – and quit smoking and/or taking cocaine.

As a public service announcement here is the British Heart Foundation description of the symptoms of a heart attack

“The most common symptoms of a heart attack tend to be pain in the centre of the chest which can spread to the neck, arm or jaw. It is often associated with nausea and shortness of breath.

“While women can experience the classic symptoms of a heart attack, they often present with more vague symptoms. These include a dull ache or heaviness in the chest, indigestion like pain, or feeling light headed with chest pain.”



You only have one heart, don't take it for granted.


I have the physical manuscript of the American version of Blood, Sweat and Tea – the one where they take out all the letter 'u's. Every page as a column of red copy-edit changes. I don't think that the copy-editor likes ellipsises much either…

What strikes me as amusing is that the American publishers sent me (by FedEx) the printed out manuscript and want me to send it back with my alterations on it. Wouldn't it have been much simpler, cheaper and kinder to the environment, to just email it to me? They want it back in nine days – for the next four 'days' I'm on night shifts. I'm tempted to just fire off an email saying that they can do whatever they want with it.