I am a screenwriter…

Something interesting happened yesterday and today. It’s a medium length story, so I’ll leave out some of the details (actually, C thinks I shouldn’t mention it – it’s a superstition thing).

My brother lives in the same village as an actor/director chap. I’m not prepared to mention his name. He’s English, been in a couple of films and wrote the screenplay for, directed and starred in a British movie which was successful, but not a blockbuster. Anyhow, Kevin met the chap in the street and said I was a novelist and thought he might be interested in my books – and he lent him copies of both UH and FtF.

That was months ago. Anyhow, I got a call from this chap today who says he really likes UH and thinks it would be a fab movie – or mini-series. ‘A sort of UK Homeland?’ was his take on it. Anyhow, the long and the short of it was that he’d be prepared to tout the book and try to raise the cash if it were in screenplay format. He said he wanted to direct it. As the author, would I be prepared to give it a go?

Why not? I mean I know the book backwards and it’s about adaptation; no original thought. Except, don’t forget Roland, I know nothing about films and less about screenwriting. So, without commitment, I said I’d think about it. Which I am. So there (and sorry to C that I’ve given away that little secret).

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Much more importantly, we skied in the small ski area in Abondance today (not connected to Chatel – so passes are 2/3 the price). And loved it. A chalet in Abondance then – that’s the plan.

I just need to write 4 more books and pen a screenplay…

Time to reflect

What has been brilliant about our first 5 days in Chatel is that, without any outside interference, we’ve been able to reflect on everything. And, after a season of no snow, they’ve had more snow over the past 5 days than the previous 5 weeks. As a result it’s been ski-walk-walk-walk-walk for us, with every walk being different and worth it. Today, from the back of the apartment, we climbed and climbed to Col de Saix, using snowshoe routes in snow deep enough to lose a bear. Thankfully the route had been used by people with the proper equipment (there were 4 couples heading up the path) so we only sunk in 30 cm, rather than a metre. But the weather was fab: really cold, but v sunny. Exhausted, we returned to the apartment for tea and medals.

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I’m half-way through major edit two of The Innocence of Trust. By the time I’ve finished it will have been through 11 sets of eyes, six of them mine. The good news is that all my pals who have read it (all looking at different angles) have all loved it: a proper thriller. So I’m really excited by it, even if I have had my second (2/11) rejection. And a v nice rejection it was too. Still, I’m v positive about the whole thing. And FtF continues to sell in the US, as part of their ‘thriller January’, and also being lent as part of the Prime Lending programme. (I have to say I will be disappointed if Kindle Press come back and say they’re not interested in e-publishing TIOT.) So, again, all’s well there.

Finally, about reflection. Both our girls are getting married in the next 16 months and, God willing, they both intend to have kids. I guess, at that point, we’re going to need to be settled – or at least have a base – somewhere. So the grandkids can come and visit. Brexit notwithstanding, C and I have pretty much made up our minds that we’d like a chalet in the Alps. Nothing too big, but something house-sized – in a resort which has its own ski area, but not one of the big ones. Abondance down the valley here is perfect. It has a small ski area, and a bus to Chatel, and prices are about 75% cheaper than here. This valley is perfect for so many reasons: skiing, summer sports, 20 minute drive to Lake Geneva; an hours drive to the airport, and 10 hours to Calais.

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And, let’s face it, wintering in the Alps and then touring/visiting the UK/pals for the rest of the year in Doris, sounds like a plan? Having said that, all four-seasons in the Alps are pretty wonderful (spring flowers, summer meadows …).

Between now and then (I reckon five years max) we need to do the west coast of South America in a 4×4 with a folding tent on top (3/4 months in 2018/9?), and I need to write another 4 books. Is it affordable? Well a decent sized 3 bed chalet in Abondance is cheaper than a 4 bed-detached property in Bristol. And we have one of those.

As is always the case, it’s about being reminded that you’re only on this planet once, and the man with the scythe has a habit of creeping up on you when you’re least expecting him. So, we’ve made ourselves a bit of a plan. Many would say we’ve done that before, but I’ve never felt so committed to something – a place, before. Remind me when we change our minds!

How lucky are we?

A couple of things from me today.

First the perennial issue of what should I be doing – I think it’s a husband thing (for our generation) than a wife thing? Should I be out there earning a decent wage? Surely this writing thing and my dipping a toe into the compassionate leadership pool is not enough. Or, if it is, why aren’t I writing now – penning another book? Or touting for business for my compassionate leadership stuff? I enjoy both, so why I am taking 2 weeks off and skiing (it was fabulous today!).

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These are good questions. And, trust me, they have been on the tip of my head for a good while. Those of you who read this drivel can testify it’s true. Well – I don’t really know. I spoke to C about maybe taking up a maths teacher’s post in September somewhere. I’m pretty sure I could find someone who would have me. So should I?

I have turned down two non-teaching jobs (one v good and right up my street; and one not so good) in the last 12 months. Both frightened me – in that I would be working full time, and, as an example, wouldn’t be able to bugger off to France for two weeks skiing. And I certainly wouldn’t have got The Innocence of Trust written – a book which I am particularly excited by; I hope you love it. And, let’s be honest, Fuelling the Fire and Unsuspecting Hero have done ok, but they’re not paying off the mortgages in any discernible way (although we are still saving, even with two weddings coming up – with our approach to life we just don’t spend). But, we are still saving.

Warning – with a job would bring a house. That is the way it would be. Neither of us are ready for that. Not yet.

So, what to do? My mate Richard, who we stopped with on Monday night to blag supper (thanks), says I enjoy the writing so much (correct) that that’s what I should continue to do. V few people have that luxury; of doing what they enjoy. But, as I only want to write for Sam Green – is more than one book a year too many? Mmmm, not sure.

We are where we are then. Keep at it. Get someone to publish The Innocence of Trust or self-publish, and then write another one. Four books is better than three. Etc etc.

What else? Well for the record we finished with Jen in Bristol on Sunday night, P&K v kindle agreed to look after Doris for us (and provided supper on Sunday – thanks again), and I booked the ferry the wrong way round – Calais to Dover, which P&O couldn’t fix. So we had to buy another ticket. I am an idiot.

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I drove pretty much all the way (600 miles) with a couple of stops, and we got to Chatel mid-afternoon where, even with winter tyres, I put on chains because the snow was coming down quicker than the ploughs could push it to the side. But the outcome was that we skied today in good conditions – when, only yesterday, most of the Alps had no snow. It’s set to snow for the next 3 days and then a week of sunshine. How lucky are we?

Very. It’s as simple as that. Very…

En route…

I haven’t forgotten about you! A quick post en route to France (midnight ferry tonight).

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Photo is a v wet Burgundy, R&C’s dog, having just got back from a filthy walk. Now eating Christmas cake and a warning tea.

Will post fuller on Wednesday, hopefully from Chatel.

All’s well with us.

Kindle are talking to me…hurrah!

It’s been a couple of days of DIY at Jen’s place as we help her get the house in good order for when her fiance moves in next week. We’ve been painting and clearing (I hate decorating – it would be the first thing I’d pay for if we won the lottery) and taking stuff to the dump. We’ve just about done now, with only a morning of tidying up tomorrow – and then C and Jen are off to Keynsham tomorrow afternoon to order Bex’s wedding dress which she saw when she was in the UK last month. Bex looked in New York over New Year (on the way back to the Bahamas) don’t these kids lead such a fabulous life nowadays?) but couldn’t find anything she liked.

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Missing this…

There’s still no snow anywhere in most of the Alps, although they are expecting some soon. Chatel is almost closed – there may be 20cm tomorrow and some of the runs are open made with artificial snow. There is some scheduled for next week, so we may be lucky. Plan is to drop Doris with P&K on Sunday night, travel to Dover via R&C’s on Monday and catch a ferry on Tuesday – arriving in Chatel late on Tuesday. Hurrah! C was digging out the ski kit from our garage today (where we keep all of our worldly possessions) – so we’re on our way.

Finally Kindle have finally been in touch. They were apologetic about not being replying to my emails and have agreed to look at the manuscript of The Innocence of Trust and let me know by early February whether or not they’d consider publishing. I’m only prepared to do this of they publish as a paperback as well. We’ll see.

And, interestingly, when I asked what advertising they were doing in mid-November when I was selling 400 books a week – they said ‘none’. So, how does that happen? Dunno. It may have been some of my Facebook advertising, or maybe something else which sent it viral for a bit. I wish I knew, as I could do with applying some of that magic now. Although, to be fair, with the US advertising that’s going on under their thriller series (for the whole of January), both books continue to sell.

All in all, then, everything is ok with us. Hope all is well with you.

A plan for 2017?

We’ve just had a lovely 3 relaxing days with Annie, C’s sister (thanks Annie). It included a trip down to Dorset to see their middle sister, Joy. We managed to get in a run (still managing every second day) and had a great New Year’s Eve of roast pork and the last instalment of the Harry Potter film series. A long time ago I did manage to get through 4 of the books – but never made it to the end. The film was good enough – and it kept us entertained until Robbie Williams came on and sung us into 2017. Fab. Great London fireworks as well.

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Now we’re back in Bristol (the photo is of just before we left when the weather was v cold). We have a week helping Jen sort out the house before James, her fiancee, moves in with her. And then we’re off to Chatel – for just under two weeks of skiing. Hopefully. That is if there is any snow. They’re having a really rubbish year, the top-right bit of the Alps. We go there because we borrow a friend’s apartment – and have always had snow. And it is lovely – especially when the snow is down. Mostly because, unlike most other French resorts, it hasn’t been built up with concrete tower blocks. But, without snow… We’ll see.

Books are selling – but slowly. The UK boost as part of 12 Days of Kindle has probably sold about 40 copies of Fuelling the Fire. I’m not surprised as I couldn’t find the book when I looked for it. Amazon had told me that it will now be part of a US drive for the whole of January as part of their thriller series – it will be offered at $1.99 – which is fine, but as it’s currently on sale for $1.22, I’m not sure why? And as Kindle Press still refuse to talk to me, I’m none the wiser. I won’t use them again by choice.

And I guess I made an executive decision the other day. If, by the end of Feb, I’ve not had a sniff from an agent for The Innocence of Trust, I think I’m going to self-publish and then start on Book 4 – for which a plot is emerging. It seems to me that being an author is what I am, and as I have a book pretty much ready to go (and a plot on its way), why wouldn’t I want to put out 2 books in 2017? I checked what Lee Childs does for Jack Reacher. He’s now on 21 books – 1 a year, apart from 2 in one of his early years. So if it worked for him.

We’ll see. Anyhow, a very happy New Year from C and I. We have a plan for 2017. We hope you do too – and that it comes together nicely.

We’ve just stopped moving…

We’re now back at our favourite Bristol campsite (the photo below is taken from about 100 metres away). Since the beginning of December our itinerary has been: Godalming, Cirencester, Bristol, Godalming, Colchester, Godalming, Bristol, Wolverhampton, Bristol, Godalming, Gatwick, Godalming, Bristol. Tomorrow we’re off to Lambourn (C’s sister) for New Year, but on Friday we’re off down to Poole to see C’s other sister. Then back to Bristol…for about 7 days. Then Chatel for 2 weeks! Hurrah!!

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That’s the problem with not having a house. You have to visit other people, rather than them come to you. In the summer we’re open for business – as it’s easier to live outside. But in the winter, it’s more tricky. But – it’s a small price to pay, as Doris continues to be pretty perfect and whilst we often talk about settling down (chalet in the Alps – live upstairs and rent downstairs?), nothing has yet caught our imagination enough for us to make a decision.

We saw Bex and Steven off to New York this morning (then back to the Bahamas for school next weekend) and are now back in Bristol. Interestingly, even though I left the electric heater on in Doris, the water heater tripped and dumped all of our water overnight. Which is fine. As that’s what it’s supposed to do. But it’s the first time it’s happened. The hope is that nothing else has succumbed to the low temperatures…we shall find out soon enough.

It has been a great Christmas. We’ve seen an awful lot of Jen, James (thanks for Christmas), Bex and Steven. And with popping to see Annie tomorrow – that should just about square the circle (although not my brother…). Hurrah!

And the books? Well, both seem to be selling well enough (although at a much reduced price – which is fine – it’s about finding an audience). And today, I think in the US, Fuelling the Fire was made available on Prime Lending. They tell me it stays there ‘for about 3 months’. I don’t get any royalties, but I do get a $1,000 payment in lieu. ‘Lends’ do influence sales rank (currently 25,000 in the US, 9,000 in the UK), but Amazon are struggling to show ‘Lends’ on the day sales sheets. So I may never know how many ‘Lends’ I’ve had.

Nothing back from any publishers/agents for The Innocence of Trust. I have 9 replies outstanding. When that’s done, I’ll rethink any plans I have.

And finally, I thought I might share my latest UK review of Unsuspecting Hero. Delighted with it… Hurrah again!!

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