Am published author!

Okay – not yet.  But will be soon enough.  How good does that sound?

The photo below paints more than a thousand words. I got the news at 1.00am on Tuesday morning – I got up for an old man’s comfort break and my phone was flashing. I immediately woke Claire and emailed a few folk. I tried to get back to sleep, but with a v early morning train journey to London for my Exec Lead interview, sleep was the wrong side of elusive.


The interview and assessment (just off Kings Cross) was engaging and interesting. There was a two hour competence interview (phew) and a forty minute assessment slot where I had to chair a discussion group of four ‘headteachers’ – this was the last thing I did and by the time I got there I was out of beans. But, I thought it all went well. I should find out next week if I’m going to be asked to mentor a group of Multiple Academy Trust Heads through eleven days worth of training. It would be fun to be asked…

And so onto the book. Well, what can I say other than THANK YOU! I know I wrote it and I know the Kindle editorial team read it, but without some particularly spectacular voting I wouldn’t have made it onto their radar. So well done you lot. Since selection, apart from answering a million congrats messages, I have already struck up a relationship with the Kindle Scout team. They have sent me provisional editorial comments which included the starting paragraph: The intersection of conspiracy theories, international espionage, action and adventure, and topical news was quite interesting! The writing style is compelling! I love it! I’ve never had anyone professionally critique my work before, and whilst it doesn’t have ‘best-seller’ plastered all over it, it’s nice to know that they think my writing style is ‘compelling’.

In addition I have received another email from a new editor who has told me that they will be finished editing FtF by 13 July. Obviously they’re not messing about, and I do look forward to the results of that work. It does mean that FtF may not be out until the end of July, but at least it will be in the best state possible. Hurrah!

I have a number of other tasks to do, including making my own marketing strategy for the next six weeks. I’m not yet sure what that looks like, but it will come to me.

For the record, we have spent the last four days at Mary’s. We’re back to Bristol tomorrow. Today Chris and Anne, two Canadian friends of Mary’s, have come to stay and over a bottle of wine, Chris and I put together the plot for Book Three. I think you’ll like it!

Anyhow – that’s enough for now. Have a good rest of week.

I’m still waiting…

Still no news, I’m afraid. I did some ‘stalking’ of a book that has been selected for publication on Friday. I went to the author’s Twitter account and established when their campaign had started and finished. It seems they had to wait ten days to be told, so I’m not alone in hanging around. Whilst nothing has happened, a lot of things have happened. Below is the book’s trailer – I’d welcome comment. And my cover designer is close to finishing the revamped cover for UH. And, bless them, one chap emailed me to say he was rereading UH in order to be ready for FtF. I can’t ask more than that?

Hopefully there’ll be news early next week.

still (0-00-01-01)

[Click on the photo – how clever am I?  By the way – if you’re a first time visitor, FtF is not available…yet]

We’ve been at Mary’s, house sitting whilst she in on hols in Germany. One highlight was a trip to London to see one of Claire’s old girls perform her final repertoire at the Guildhall. She’s a fabulous cellist and it was a real privilege to hear her play. The Guildhall is smack in the middle of the Barbican, which neither C nor I had been to for years and years. It is fabulous. Okay, so it’s a 70s concrete jungle, but there’s a lake, the buildings are all really well looked after, there’s decent outside space and, this time of year, it appears the rule that you display geraniums on your balcony. It was a lovely splash of colour in among all the angles and lines.


By chance we also saw the Royals leaving St Pauls after the Q’s birthday service. I think we caught the tip of her head, but we definitely spotted Harry, Will and Kate, as well as many other minor dignitaries. And Mrs Sun shone throughout, as she has been all week. Yesterday we walked into town (we walked everywhere in London – as normal, and to and from Godalming station), sat and had a sandwich lunch by the canal, looked at Piaggio MP3s as an alternative to towing a car (trike-like mopeds you can drive on a car license), and generally had a lazy Saturday.

We finished off the evening watching England against Russia. I thought they played the best I’ve ever seen them play – such confidence – and I’m hoping they do the same against Wales on Thursday.

Busy week this week. I guess I’ll hear from Kindle and that will spark a rush of activity, either way. I have to say I have felt in limbo since the campaign ended and really want to move everything along. I have my interview in London on Tuesday for Executive Lead, which I’m going to do as little prep for as possible. And on Friday I have work at Wells – and, wait for it, I’ve been asked to talk to some children about creative writing! How cool is that? An ex-maths teacher spouting about English! That’ll teach them!

Have a great week.

Life on the ocean’s waves

I don’t know what it’s like where you are, but it’s been blooming boiling under the Ladley shadow. And, surprisingly, just as hot on the ocean waves. The two days with Ros and Alan were fab. They have a 30-odd foot yacht with two double berths and all of the mod-cons – just like Doris! We sailed from Portsmouth to Cowes, mooring up river, a walk to the pub and supper on board (thanks Ros! And two lunches!). Back the next day, this time under power as the combination of wind and tide made sailing at best slow, and then off to C’s other sister (Joy and Malcolm) for a birthday supper, finishing off overnight at Annie’s last night.

So, how was the sailing? Well, one of our original options was to push off into the sunset on a boat, gin and tonics in hand. Yes, metre-for-metre they’re about three times the price and we would have to make some sacrifices, but it was an attractive option. I know that neither of us can sail, but we would learn? Anyhow, we chose the simpler and cheaper MH route and, having spent a night on the boat, I’m convinced it was the right choice. Boats have limited travel options, they are dark inside and, when at sea, you’re stuck with where you are. Sailing is complicated – okay, so not necessarily unworkable, but there’s always something to fret about. And when casting off and mooring, the anxiety levels are higher. And I’m not sure I want that?

Sunset on the IoW

Sunset on the IoW

Many thanks to Alan and Ros, it was a wonderful opportunity and great fun, and if someone wants a crew member to sail across the Atlantic, then I’m in. But as a way of life, I’m not convinced.



and Ros

and Ros


the Alberta Rose

the Alberta Rose

Talking about anxiety levels. I tried to get Doris between a forest and a horse box today and there wasn’t quite enough room. The problem was that the horse box had a wide bottom bit, its rear lights stuck on sharp metal sheets sticking out like James Bond’s Aston Martin DB5 rotating spikes. The damage looked rough, a scratch down the bottom of Doris’s skirts. But, when we got to Mary’s just now I managed to T-Cut nearly all of it out. In the end a good lesson for me to stay sharp through smaller than Doris-sized gaps.

the original Spice Girls bus!

the original Spice Girls bus!

And, no news from Amazon. They have to get in touch with me, and they have to tell you (if you nominated) whether or not Fuelling the Fire has been selected for publishing. Last Friday they said ‘a few business days’. Well we’re coming up to the end of business day four. It is a bit dull and tiresome. I’m not sure if it’s a good thing or a bad one that they’ve not been bothered to tell me? We’ll see. And you will be the first to know.

Have a great rest of week…

Lots of bearded men

A good couple of days, magnified by outstanding weather. Mrs Sun wore dayglo vests throughout and, as always with a campervan, we reaped the benefits. Fabulous. Hence the need (and the original design) to follow her as she waltzes round Europe, especially in the darker months where the lack of Vit D makes you reach for the gin.

James’ birthday bash was fun (photo attached). Lots of bearded men, a group I do not include myself in, you should know. I think it’s a magnetic iron-filings thing. You know, like you used to do in Science where you place a magnet under a pice of paper and then throw a handful of filings about and watch them gravitate (wrong force, I know) to the poles. We sat next to a couple of Jen and James’ friends: a Polish girl – one of the nicest young women I’ve met for a while, so yah boo sucks to the anti-immigration lobby; and her boyfriend, a computer programmer – who was equally as nice. Having run in the morning, after the birthday lunch we had an early evening lay-about, cleaned some stuff and watched some telly.

lots of bearded men

lots of bearded men

Today we drove to Al and Annie’s for coffee and, via lunch and a run on the Ridgeway, got to Annie’s to watch Murray get stuffed by Djokovic. Annie and Al are preparing to move into their new longterm home – which looks great, and then he’s off to work in Qatar from August where they will get a villa or apartment. Are we envious? Well, sort of. If I returned to fulltime employment (I’ve just come out in a rash) then we could probably afford to do the same. But that would mean working – not writing. Full time. Yikes. No, I think I’ll stick to writing and some leadership work (I’ve just secured a week’s worth of work back in Wells for the Autumn term). And I do have that scary interview the week after next…

And Doris is and has remained fabulous. We do need to put an awning on her and I’d like to stick a second solar panel on the roof, but other than that she’s been perfect. Sitting on the Ridgeway having been for a run, scoffing lunch, was a real pleasure. Oh, and not thinking about going to work tomorrow (actually, we’re going sailing to the IoW. Yippee!). What’s not to like?

Alasdair v kindly pressed me about the book. The bottom line is that I’ve just finished the gross-error check on FtF. So that’s done. Apart from checking both covers and clearing the FtF video-short, my work is done. Now, it’s a waiting game for Kindle Scout. I read just now that some people wait for 5 days to get told. I still think that I’m going to wake Tuesday morning to be told that I’ve not been selected. But, that’s not the end of the world. With a fan-base of nearly 3,500 folk after the manic campaign (okay, so ‘fan’ is presumptive), a sharp campaign might just get me noticed with those who don’t know the books. Timing is key, so I’ll have to be sharp about that.

Anyhow, Annie is cooking roast chicken (thanks Annie) and we’ve packed some meagre possessions for our sailing trip tomorrow. So, all’s well with us.

Have a good week.

No news is….?

I think this is going to be my last daily update. From here on in I’m tempted to opt for the usual Wednesday and Sunday reports.

I was up with the lark’s cousin and got an automated email from the Kindle Scout team which, among others, said: You will receive an email from us in the next few business days notifying you whether your book has been selected for publication by Kindle Press. As at twelve hours later I have nothing to report. My view is that the longer they leave it, the more likely is that I’m not selected. It doesn’t help my disposition that there’s a weekend between probably knowing and not knowing. All I need now is for someone to have a go at pulling out my fingernails and the torture will be complete.

We drove down from Penkridge back to our fave N Bristol campsite by the M48 Severn crossing in fabulous sunshine. After a quick unpack we decided to cycle into Thornbury. Sixteen miles and an Aldi load of provisions later we were back sat outside Doris having a cuppa. And still enjoying Mrs Sun who really has her confidence back. Long may it continue, although I might have a burnt bald patch tomorrow.

The weekend is busy. Jame’s birthday bash tomorrow lunchtime. And then off to Annie’s on Sunday so we can park up Doris and take the car down to Portsmouth. Monday/Tuesday we’ve been v kindly offered to accompany Alan and Ros (an old boss of mine) on their yacht sailing over to the IoW. Really looking forward to that provided neither of us throw up. Which is likely. And then a week or so at Mary’s.

For me this is going to be about publishing/republishing both books. I have my best men on it and I hope by the end of June we have a result – irrespective of what KS decide with FtF. And I have just been booked for 5 days work back at Wells doing some middle-leader training and I have that scary interview on 14 June for Executive Lead – where I might be asked to support multiple academy heads through their training. I’m unlikely to get the slot (11 days work throughout the year) and I’m not sure I want it. We’ll see.

Anyhow, must check my emails to see if Mr Kindle (he does publish exceptionally good books) has been in touch.


Have a great weekend.

(Photo is Bex and Steven down in Cornwall just now…)

It’s definitely tomorrow…

(Still no wifi – sorry no piccies.)  I was right about the date – it’s tomorrow!

I felt pretty awful this morning.  Tired, fidgety and down. I’m not sure what brought it on.  It might be something as simple as the weather.  Actually it’s been okay up here, much better than down in the southeast and a damn sight drier than Central Europe.  But it’s still wasn’t June weather – not bare buff stuff; maximum exposure to Vitamin D.  Bring it on!  Or it might have been the day delay between not knowing and knowing.  It shouldn’t be that important, I know.  But I do feel some responsibility for all of the folk who have voted and cheered me on.  Who knows?  Or it might be my sinuses, which are still a pain in the, well, head.
But by lunchtime, after a cycle into the local town along deserted country roads and with Mrs Sun being all manly and pointy elbowed, I started to feel much better.  A root around the charity shops and a coffee in Costas, another lovely cycle home and now full-blown British summer weather, and I was feeling much more up for it.  Both C and I went for longish runs (I was feeling the best I’ve felt in my feet for a couple of months) and we sat out of the shade with a cuppa and were reminded how lucky we are.
Stats have been good – still hot and trending (3/20) as I write this, so none of us could have done any more.  I guess I’ll wake tomorrow morning knowing the result.  Frankly either way it’s been a scream, although I don’t think I’ll be lining the third book up to go through the same process somehow.
Just watched George Clooney in The Descendants.  Fabulous.  It looks like it might be all mushy and chick-flick.  It isn’t.  You should watch it.
Hopefully some news tomorrow….sleep tight.
(In the end managed some phone photos of yesterday’s walk.)

Oops! Wrong day?

(Still no wifi, so no pictures I’m afraid.). Okay, so I might have got the day wrong.  It may be that the 30 days for FtF on Kindle Scout might end on Friday morning, not tomorrow morning.  It’s a US based programme, and I can’t get my head round the time-zone business.  I can tell you now, it’s been a long 30 days.  I have done no marketing over the past two days and have no intention of starting anything now.  As I write FtF is 1/20 so it does seem to have a life of its own.  And with no energy, that’s a good thing.

I’d always planned that today I would do a stats summary, for anyone following the Kindle Scout process.  I was hoping to snatch a couple of screenshots of the bar charts that I get to see everyday, but with no wifi that’s not been possible.  However, as at today, I can report that 3,200 people have visited my KS page.  48% of those hits have not come from my marketing – they’ve come from ‘Scouts’ who use the programme to scout for books and, I guess, get free ones.  I think the almost 50/50 breakdown is good news. But who knows what KS are looking for?

The detailed breakdown of how my/our marketing has reaped rewards is as follows: 917 from Facebook; 520 from direct emails from me and from other pals; 61 directly from this blog; 59 from LinkedIn; and the remainder from a variety of sources, most unknown to me.  So, if you’re doing this yourself, FB is key.  Having said that, I’m not sure how many pals we’ve upset along the way.  I hope it’s all been worthwhile.

What has been a pleasant surprise is what has happened to Unsuspecting Hero.  I’ve sold an additional 50 books in the last couple of weeks, 5 yesterday alone.  Now in terms of Sunday Times best sellers, that’s no even scratching the surface, but it has taken UH to 37th in the Kindle Store Thrillers/Terrorism genre.  And yesterday I received my 30th review (27 five star, 3 four star), which was great.
I know I’ve banged on about this and, for the record, we did walk 9 miles today down the canal.  But everything has been book-centric, so I hope you won’t mind me just opening my mind and letting it all out.  Hopefully, in a couple of days, it will be business as normal.
Have a great Thursday