No wifi!

Sorry there was no post yesterday, and today there’s going to be no pictures. This is because at the campsite, Hi Onn (a lovely CC site not far from Penkridge), there is no wifi and my phone signal (I have unlimited data with Virgin) is also not good. And I had eight chapters of FtF to finish.

Anyhow, with much frustration and over an hour of waiting for various connections, it’s done. I still need to gross error check by running over an MS grammar and spell check, but it’s ready. If Amazon call for the manuscript on Thursday, it should be ready. If they call for it in Thursday! Who knows? It’s been on the top-20 list since launch and numbers are still good. I can’t see it dropping from the the list with a day left, so we – and I include you in this – have done what we can. Thanks.

Fingers crossed…

We’ve both run today, I’ve cleaned and oiled the bikes, and C has been cleaning around me while I have been battling with the chapters. And now, with Eggheads on, I can relax a little. Ooh! I didn’t tell you. The first draft of the FtF video clip was sent through by Rob today. It’s brilliant, but I can’t show it yet until it’s finished. That may take until the weekend. But, trust me, you have something to look forward to.

Finally Doris’ electrics continue to work like they should. Hurrah! Fixing the RCD has made everything okay, and we now use our power without a second thought.

Fab. Have a great Wednesday. For me, it’s a day to go…

A long day…

I’m shattered. It’s been a long day. We went into Birmingham to accompany Bex and Steven as they shopped for Bahamas clothing (they leave to teach there on 8 August). C actually did the shopping and I stayed in Costas and worked on reading through the proofing of FtF. It is hard work. I think it’s the level of intensity – knowing that I’m the last person who’s probably going to look through it before it gets unleashed on the public, either by Kindle through their Scout programme, or by myself. Either way you have to be really careful not to insert a letter or character that shouldn’t be there. It’s tiresome.

After a sandwich lunch I was deposited back in Costas to continue the motion. Except I couldn’t get back on the wifi so I had a fruitless couple of hours doing not a great deal.

Back in Penkridge, after a quick run, we went round to Steve’s dad’s girlfriend’s for a BBQ (that’s the photo). It was great – they are lovely people. But I knew that to keep on track and to have the manuscript ready for next Thursday (should Kindle ask for it), I had two more chapters to complete tonight. As a result, I flagged and after four hours excused myself and came back to Doris to finish my work. And now I’m updating you…which is not a burden, but still something that still needs to be done.


Good news is that FtF is still on the list and numbers for Saturday (I shall do a whole lot of figures for you on Wednesday, so you know everything) were up a good deal on Friday. I’m not doing anything particularly in terms of marketing, other than badger some friends, so it seems that FtF has a life if it’s own now. Good.

Off to Hi Onn campsite tomorrow – just a few miles from here. We’ve booked in for five nights, a sort of mini-break. I do have to complete proofing FtF, and my video man has promised me the clip tomorrow (soooo excited by that). Hopefully, other than poring over the laptop, it should be a relaxing couple of days.

Then Thursday. Red letter day. I said to Bex today that it was like waiting for your A-level results. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt like this…

Have a good Bank Holiday Monday!

Loving the stories…

I have to say, and I don’t really mean to blow smoke up…, but I’ve really enjoyed checking the proofread of Unsuspecting Hero. It is, even if I say so myself, a great story and now, after various edits, not badly told. Tonight I started checking the proof of FtF. I’m loving that as well. I suppose if I not happy with what I’ve written, there’s little chance that anyone else will be?

FtF has remained ‘on the list’, and with knowing desperation this morning I started going back to a key group of people who I know will go out of their way to ask again, just to keep the numbers up there. I only need to do this for a couple more days. It seems that in the last two days, books gain extra votes as people who want plenty of free books vote late for their favourites, knowing they’ve only got to wait a couple of days before they can vote again – you’re restricted to three votes each. I’m hoping that will happen to FtF.

Last night was a hum-dinger. Cocktails at some very loud joint in Birmingham, followed by a meal at a Japanese restaurant where the food is prepared on a flat griddle before your eyes, with flames as big as a house singeing anything in range. We got home late…and a bit worse for wear.

Jen and James came up from Bristol today, just to say hi. The six of us, a congealing family if you like, walked Cassie up on Cannock Chase before we had lunch in Steve Dad’s back garden overlooking the canal. Priceless. To recover from last night’s excesses, we’re alcohol free tonight, accompanying ham and chips.

As I finish for today, I think it’s important to start to recognise the people who have tirelessly helped try and promote the book. If it comes to nought, then so be it. If it’s selected by Mr Amazon, then I have an awful lot of people to thank. So thank you!

Have a good Sunday!

Mrs Sun…hurrah!


At last – something that feels like you might be comfortable in shorts and a t-shirt. As a result we cycled down the canal to Stafford. We’ve done a lot of canal walking/cycling. What is interesting is that here in the Midlands the boats are all fabulous. Immaculately groomed and front page stuff for Tow Path Weekly. Down south, along the Kennet and Avon, the waterway is jammed packed with run-down liveaboards, their possessions spewing out onto the tow path and the distinct smell of burning weed suspended in the air. Fabulous. Well, the weed that is.

We had a picnic out and I did some more dealing with the company who are type-setting and publishing both books – maybe not FtF on Kindle if, next Thursday, I’m told that it’s been selected by Amazon. V excited about this. It’s still ‘hot and trending’, and has been since launch. How can they not offer me a e-publishing contract (because they don’t like the book…?). I’m preparing for the worst.

We won the pub quiz last night. I was hopeless, but thankfully both Steven and Bex (and C) are well educated and make up for my rubbish retentive memory.

I’ve finished proofing Unsuspecting Hero, and that’s now with Octavo who will take it back to market in a much better place than when it started. I loved rereading it – it’s a fun story. If you haven’t read it, it’s only 99p on Kindle – have a look?

Out for supper into Birmingham tonight. Some Japanese food, I understand. I shall inevitably get something wrong and eat the cutlery rather than the piece of cold fish that looks like a spoon. Oh well.

Have a great Bank Holiday!

A good day…

Well what a day that was. An easy drive up to Wolverhampton to Bex and Steven’s school. Bex showed us round, we bumped into a lot of kids and do you know what? They’re no different to the kids at Wells. One-to-one they just want to show you what they can do – even the tough, disengaged ones. We really enjoyed our day there, and my presentation (about my time in the UN – it was v short and sweet) seemed to hit the mark. There was a lot of engagement with the audience, who seemed to rise to the occasion. Well done them!

Back at Steven’s place, having had an email exchange with Chelstons about the RCD which didn’t trip and, as a result we had no 240v, I dismantled the whole thing and…discovered the problem. Leaving aside a drain on the vehicle battery caused by the v sexy alarm, there has been a problem with 240v since the beginning – it tripped regularly, it didn’t seem to want to charge both batteries and other stuff. If you look at the picture below you’ll see a brown live wire not attached to anything. It was at some point, and I guess provided some connection and maybe a lot of arcing! Now, wired in properly, we seem to have fabulous 240v. I hope that’s the end of the matter. We’ll see.

nasty loose brown wire...

nasty loose brown wire…

And FtF has remained on the hot and trending list and my mate Richard has engaged the Royal Marines – all of them, you understand! This is via a friend of both of ours – he knows him better than I do. So, that should keep the whole thing going for a while longer. The next plan is to badger all my closest friends at the weekend and ask them to press some more. Doubtless, I will be down to one friend by the time this is all over. I hope it’s worth it. Seven days to go…

Pub quiz with Bex and Steven tonight. Our new alcohol regime is working well. We only drink when we go out. And as we don’t do that often, we getting through a good deal of bitter lemon. We’re sure it’s making s difference. Also – ran with Bex and Steven tonight. They’ve been working hard and Bex has come on huge strides. Well done her!

That’s me. Bank holiday weekend coming up. But, for us, every weekend is a bank holiday. Ain’t it?

It’s going to be short again…

So, we’ve just come back from the RUH where I’ve had a CT scan. It’s all just checking some family history stuff – all my limbs are working ok. But it’s means we’ve crammed in an awful lot of stuff today. I’m up to Chapt 17 on UH. I’ve arranged a contract for both books to be ‘taken to the market’, washed the outside of Doris and some other stuff. C’s been shopping for wool (there are now some v cold sheep out there) and we driven around a bit. FtF has remained on the hot and trending list, so all’s well.

My latest target was Motorhome365. A full timing chat room for people like us. I don’t visit it often, but the threads are about the fun and woes of doing it our way. Broken fridges, cheap sites etc. Which reminds me, our RCD (240v input) switch is playing up at the moment. I might need to get it replaced.

Anyhow. We’re off to Bex and Steven’s school tomorrow. Bex has her tutor group running a short assembly about the UN. I’m ‘show and tell’, with my own 5 minute slot. Could be fun.

Seven more marketing days until Christmas. Thank goodness…


Have a good Thursday.

Got to go…

Can’t stop. Got a lot to do…

I got round yesterday’s technical whoopsie by purchasing a v smart Acer cloudbook. It’s the Windows version of a chromebook, so does all the MS Word stuff by having a deep and meaningful conversation with a cloud. Even though internet is poor to medium here at the campsite, I am already 6/24 chapters into Unsuspecting Hero and hope to get the whole thing done by Friday night. That will leave me five days to complete FtF. I have to say that, so far, the proofreading has been a lot more than that – there’s been some useful editing as well.


But – it’s not without trepidation that I do this. Every time I press a key I fear for changing a word that will remain in the final version and throw the reader off the deep end. Oh well…they’ll just have to get in with it.

Anyhow, more chapters to do. So you’ll have to wait for a fuller update tomorrow.

Still ‘hot and trending’…

Technical problems…

So here’s a difficulty that I knew was coming. Both books are back from the proofreaders and shared by the company who are helping me self-publish (Octavo – based in Cardiff) on Dropbox. I guess, as they’re going to be taking both books to market (hopefully not FtF electronically, which might be Amazon’s job – hurrah!), if they share them in the Cloud, then they keep their mitts on them. That’s good.

However, I only have a Chromebook. Which is fabulously quick as it has no preloaded apps, but doesn’t like Word – absolutely the author and proofreader’s friend – and can’t read track changes and comments. Unless they’re put there by a Chromebook, or another Google device. I opened both documents and I can’t see squat. I can see all the words, but none of the track changes and comments. Grrrr. But I knew this. And have avoided the problem. I had hoped to borrow my Dad’s which he doesn’t use (realistically ‘can’t use’) and when he does it is always only a few seconds from being hurled from the window… But, whilst we did have a discussion about me borrowing it for a month, we never concluded the deal. Which was the right thing to do.

What next? I think I’m going to have to put my hand in my pocket and buy one. I didn’t realise they are now down at £150, although I guess I’ll have to download or join MS Office in the Cloud. But, I think it’s needs must.

A happy reminder when we were free from book related nonsense...

A happy reminder when we were free from book related nonsense…

For the record, we left Annie’s this morning, ended up at Jen’s to help her get her new car back to the garage, we both went for runs, and then ended up back at our favourite campsite. In all this Mrs Sun has been with us, and FtF has remained on ‘the list’. My marketing was 12 emails/LinkedIn calls throughout the day. I hope it’s enough.

Shopping for a cheap laptop tomorrow. And then, probably, head down on proofing the proofs. It’s going to take a while…

Have a good Tuesday.

I’m alright, really…

I was given a telling off today. C, Annie and I had made our way to London to see their cousins, Eva and Steph – Steph was over from Australia. Halfway through what can only be described as one of those lovely heated conversations about the state of education and parental responsibilities, my mate Rich phoned me. The conversation went something like this:

“What’s wrong with you!? What do you mean you’re at your lowest ebb?!”

“Eh, well…”

“Listen, mate, what are you made of? Have I got to come down there and sort you out?”

It went on like that for a while. Me being berated and getting told to pull my socks up ‘n all. The good news was that R’s telephone call had dragged me away from an Italian Sunday lunch – you know the ones, where everyone shouts over each other to make a point, with plenty of gesticulating and nowhere near enough empathetic listening. By the time I came back to the table I’d missed student’s use of mobile phones and we’d moved on to calmer waters. Thank goodness.


Actually it was great to catch up with Eva and Steph. Both of them are brighter than a barrel load of monkeys, so if you get into an argument, you do have to be sure of your ground. Steph is a corporate lawyer, so she’s absolutely forensic – dissecting every word. ‘So what do you mean by….’

We made it home by the early evening and met up with Annie’s youngest, Charlie, and his girlfriend Alina. After catching up with all their news, they were all over the marketing of FtF like a rash. Charlie has 1200 friends on FB and within minutes of him posting the link and ordering everyone to nominate, there were responses coming in. Fabulous.

Back to Bristol tomorrow and then up to Penkridge by the end of the week to see Bex and Steven. Hurrah!

Am an ambivalence Ambassador…

So, I’m still standing. That is, still on the list. Numbers are back down to around 50 a day, and I’m not sure how much ammunition I have to push them up. I do have a list which still has a number of people to contact and a few other buttons to push. But there’s still eleven days to go. My energy levels are low, and I’m in danger of being overcome with ambivalence. But I’ve got to keep going. This is a once-only chance. So, come on Roland, keep at it!

The thing is, even if FtF is selected, does anyone know what the outcome is? I do know that many who have been selected speak very highly of the Kindle team who provide edits, other suggestions and then a sort of camaraderie (including a secret Facebook site?) which seems like fun. Whether or not the books actually reach a wide audience remains to be seen – but if Amazon can’t do it, who can? I worry about me being a Brit. I don’t know how many Brit authors have been selected through the process, and even if I am, is the book right for the US market? It’s about MI6, which I guess they may be able to equate to the CIA?

So many imponderables. But, as I sit here and direct Annie (C’s sister) to market the book like crazy, I have to keep it up.

On a different positive note, I did get an ‘thank you’ email from a Head whom I am mentoring. Earlier in the week we had discussed a senior staffing issue. After a discussion with the member of staff (by the Head), all seems to be resolved. That did make me feel good.


And, for the record, we made it to Annie’s in the rain – via C’s Mum’s grave and a run down the Ridgeway. Off to London by train tomorrow to see their cousins. More women… I’m sure I’m not getting paid enough for this.

Have a good Sunday.