Weddings, oh dear…

Weddings. I told C that we shouldn’t have had daughters. We should have sent them back from where they came. I’m not sure I had much to do with the process in the first place.

We were fortunate enough to be able to have one of those ‘money’ conversations with both our girls. A deposit for a house? Or a special wedding? Thankfully they both plumped for the former. So, whilst they will both be fab, we’re doing both weddings on a sensible budget.

Jen has just come back from Skye with her fiancée and his family. They’ve decided to get married there, with a v small group of people. Easter 2018. Apart from providing moral support, we’ve nothing to do with it other than write a small cheque. Works for us. Bex, on the other hand, is in the Bahamas. And her and Steven are getting married next summer. Some provisional things have been sorted, but there’s a lot to do. And as we’re off to France in 3 weeks to give the book a good writing, next week is about venues, caterers and accommodation. Having organised a few mess parties in my time, between us I’m sure this is something we can pull off!

the wedding planner...

the wedding planner…

What else? Well I bought 3 x Banner 115AH batteries from Tanya (the best). We have lost our 12v a couple of times and I was convinced that the batteries were shot. And I was right. It’s an expensive business, but we now have complete confidence that the DVD player’s not going to stop working just before the punchline. I also bought a new 150w solar panel (£150) and a 15A MPPT solar charger (£100 – MPPT = special). Fitting is going to be interesting. I could have just spliced the panel onto the current panel’s roof wires, but there are issues with mixing an matching panels – old and new; different wattages etc. So I’m attempting to use a second ‘hole on the roof (currently closed) to pipe in the new panel, via the solar charger directly onto the new batteries. Fixing the panel is via Sikaflex which, everyone tells me, is the business. This is a job for the weekend.

And books? Book three is 20,000 words in and still loving it. Sales of the other two are still pottering along. There was an uplift over the weekend, but I can’t be sure that this is because of the advertising, as this is ongoing, and sales have dropped slightly. I’m still learning.

Oh, and for the record, C joined her sister at a v early Christmas Fayre down in Tidworth with all the military people today. On return, she said ‘I’m so glad we’re not involved in that anymore.’ Hurrah!

That’s us. Off to P&K tomorrow to estate sit. And on Friday I’m presenting to the Wells’ sixth form on who knows what. And then a weekend of fixing a solar panel. Wish me luck!

A day by the sea…

So, back in Bristol now. I’m working at Wells tomorrow on this middle-leaders course that I’m running. And it’s good to be near Jen again. She’s been up in Skye with her fiancée James and his family for two weeks. It’s an annual thing which they love v much. We shall see Jen a couple of times this week, although on Thursday we’re house sitting for P&K up in the Cotswolds for a few days. When I say house, I mean more like small estate with outdoor heated pool. It’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it.

We finished off with Mum and Dad with a trip to Aldeburgh via Snape Maltings. C knocked up a picnic and it was another good day out, blessed with fab weather. On Friday we did some deep cleaning. It’s fair to say that as you get older you don’t see in the corners as well as you used to. It kept us busy for most of the day. And then we left. It was sad, really. Mum really enjoys having us as it gives her a break from looking after Dad. Dad seems to enjoy having is there, but the poor soul really struggles to get through the day. He’s not a great TV watcher, but cannot read, cannot really drive anywhere, is not comfortable in company, can no longer hit a golf ball and, with Autumn drawing in, his allotment has little draw. Also, we change the dynamic when we’re there. Without us they rub along ok. With us, like Frodinger’s Cat, things change and the highs are higher and the lows lower. Oh well.

a day by the sea is the best sort of day...

a day by the sea is the best sort of day…

Good news, though! I am close to completing 20,000 words. It’s so exciting. I want to share it with you! But, as I’ve no idea where it’s going, you’re going to have to wait…

back in Bristol - our fave campsite...

back in Bristol – our fave campsite…

And sales of both FtF and UH are going well in the US still. I have a US focused sales drive in with Facebook at the moment. Yesterday I sold 43 books – a record, easily paying for any advertising. I’ve decided to keep the campaign going until the end of the week and see if I can clear my kindle advance by next weekend.

So all’s well here. Have a great week!

Loving the writing…

Phew. Two things today. First we are at Mum and Dad’s. We’ve decided to stay until Saturday. This is fine. We are, as always, camped next to the house in Doris, so we do have some respite. But, actually, things have been okay. We’ve taken the pair of them to Dad’s first village, spotting his school, the church where he used to play the organ, the village hall, the pub where he proposed to Mum, and his first house. For me, the most interesting revelation was when he pointed out where he had, so to speak, lost his cherry. And it wasn’t with Mum! These farmer boys…

over there, somewhere...

over there, somewhere…

We had lunch at Mum and Dad’s pub – the one they bought when Dad left the Army. I was 14 when they moved there and, as a result, I went off to Royston Comprehensive. That didn’t work well for me, but it’s not their fault. Thankfully the Army sixth form beckoned and my future was rescued by a good does of military discipline. Hurrah!

The Fox and Duck

The Fox and Duck

We both ran the Great Bentley circuit – trying hard to keep the fitness we built up in Germany. And today we cleaned Doris as well as C taking Mum shopping. We cook and clean when we’re here. And when we go out, M&D pay for lunch, a treat we don’t often afford ourselves. It works well. Tomorrow we’re off to the seaside. Friday is a big clean day. And Saturday back to Bristol – work in Wells on Monday.

Second, I am now a Prologue and Chapter One into a 20 chapter book. It’s so exciting! Having Sam back fills a hole in my life. I love writing her and I’m really enjoying the plot development. If you think for a second I know where this is going, I’m sorry to disappoint you. I’m 9,000 words in (out of 120,000) and already I’ve introduced a character I didn’t know existed. Fab.

The other two books continue to do well. Fuelling the Fire US sales sit at around 20 a day. I think this weekend I’m going to launch a three-day mass market campaign. I’m 430/755 books into recouping my advance. I reckon I can get the final 300 done in a weekend. We’ll see.

And the surprise is Unsuspecting Hero. It continues to sell well. We’ve yet to have a 10-sales day (mostly in the US), but as I write 7 books have flown off the shelves and we’ve not yet had the US evening market. Today may be the day!

I’ll let you know…

Car boot paradise…

We did Cheddar car boot today. It’s still gloriously sunny and we went with a mission: to find a DVD collection that we could take away with us after half term. We have loved the first series of Frasier and C managed to pick up the third season from a charity shop the other day. Today we collected 15 DVDs and the first series of Will and Grace…fab.

Apart from being transported into deepest Eastern Europe, which I continue to have no problem with, the thing about looking out for DVDs at a car boot is that you can really tell people’s personality by the films they watch. At Cheddar there were more copies of Shawn of the Dead than you could shake a zombie at, and most of the other films had the word ‘outrageous’ or ‘chilling’ or ‘monster’ in it. We had to search hard for a chick-flick. But, as well as picking up a couple of other things we needed, it was a successful morning.

Cheddar car boot...

Cheddar car boot…

Wells has been great. The work seems to have gone well and I now have a week with nothing in it (oh, really…) and back down here the week after next. Tomorrow we’re off to see my M&D and then back down towards Bristol towards the end of the week.

So, the books. I thought sales were heading slowly downwards this week, but with advertising still just low key in the US, they’ve not been lower than a combination of 21 books and yesterday I sold 31 books, 9 of which were Unsuspecting Hero. Nearly all of these were in the US. I’m starting my last set of US states this week and I shall reconsider everything next weekend. But so far, so good.

I have started book three. I was extremely nervous about the whole thing. Not that I wouldn’t be able to write. But that I would t be able to write well. I have finished the Prologue and it looks ok. The plan now is a Chapter a week until we head off to France in 6 weeks time. But there is a long way to go.

Anyhow, enough from me. Have a great week!

Sorry!

I think, as a self-styled author, it would be remiss of me not to apologise for what is sometimes a load of drivel on this blog. It is true to say that I write what comes into my head, I do it as a record for what C and I are up to and, as I now have a small but v discerning audience, I try to keep them up to date as well. It also allows those whom we are popping along to see a opportunity to catch up with what we’ve been up to. But it is often carelessly written, poorly proofread and sometimes as dull as dishwater.

That’s a warning. Because on Sunday I’m starting book 3 and the last thing I’m going to want to do it post this twice a week. (But I will!). It’s likely to be more cursory and less interesting than hitherto, which is a worry for some of you!

There. I’ve said it.

I’m currently at Wells working in the school on leadership stuff. C is coming down to join me tomorrow. The leadership training is always interesting and always requires my best attention – I hope I’m making a bit of a difference somewhere. This will go on at a rate of about once a week until mid-October and then we’ll be off down to the bottom of France. By then I hope I’m five chapters in with another twelve or thirteen done during the travels. That would give me about five to finish off with when we get back to the UK at Christmas. That’s the plan, anyway.

And how’s FtF doing? Well, I’m three days without stats but my ranking figures in the US show a slight decline. I’m still advertising on Facebook (£5 a day) but I was wondering whether or not I should throw a small slab of money at the problem, say a weekend of £50? If the advertising gives like-for-like sales (and the return is a v comfortable 1:4 at the moment), then why not spend a slab and see if I still get a 1:4 return? It’s something I’m mulling over.

thanks Nicky!

thanks Nicky!

Anyhow. Thanks to Nicky C for letting us park Doris in her backyard. And long may Mrs Sun continue to prance about in her bikini! I can’t get enough of this weather…

Sorting stuff out…

(Sorry for the double post and thanks to Rich for alerting me…)

I’m posting this on a Saturday (obviously not…) as we’re off to the Party in the Park tomorrow and I’m guessing we won’t be back early. The line up includes Madness, Elton John, Travis and Status Quo among others. It kicks off at 1.30 and it’s the first festival (of sorts) that C and I have ever been to. It’s v inexpensive, at £42 each, which I think is a bargain for an afternoon of music. I shall report back.

Since we left Richard and Caroline’s (thanks to them again for looking after of us) all we have done is wash up from our four weeks away. C has been washing anything which isn’t tied down and I have been doing our metaphorical books, so to speak. We are, I think, about there. There is a long list of things that we need to do. I need to replace the leisure batteries (3 at 125 AH = £400) which are spent. We lost them a couple of times whilst we are away, which is madness when we should have that much power available and that much of Mrs Sun. I’m also going to stick a second solar panel on the roof and we do need to fit a side awning – a real omission by the original owner, considering what he had fitted.

missing all this…

I have fixed the microswitch on the sink tap and updated the satellite TV and some other stuff. But throughout (we’re at Mary’s by the way) I have been checking FtF and UH stats – and, as per last post, I don’t want to go into too much detail at the moment. But as at now sales are hovering on about 20 a day (both books added together). Most of the sales are in the US, which is where I am gently advertising using Facebook and I am pleased with that. I do need to sell about 750 of FtF in order to pay back my Kindle advance…if sales continue like this that should be over in 6/8 weeks time. Fab! But I’m also guessing sales could drop off v quickly.

Anyhow, this week I have some work in Wells and then I have promised myself to start writing book 3 next Sunday. Have I said before that I aim to have the first draft finished by Christmas Day? Well that’s the aspiration. And, with some solid military training, I’m quite good with deadlines.

Bed now – busy day tomorrow.

Heading home…

Not much to add to the debate today, I’m afraid. We left the Sonthoffen area after a very rainy night and eventually escaped the deluge just near Stuttgart where we parked up for the night. Our ambition being to get to Calais by Thursday and try and catch an earlier ferry so we could overnight with Richard and Caroline.

The Stellplatz at Nurtingen was comfortable and after a walk into town and runs we started watching the second half of the Ewan McG and Charley Boorman documentary, The Long Way Round. In short they aimed to motorcycle around the world heading east with a small support crew. We didn’t have the first DVD, and the second started in one of the ex-Russian ‘Stans. If you get away fro Charley Boorman being a lad and the odd expletive, it really is compulsive watching. They really did go through the mill to get to Russia’s eastern coast, via Mongolia, Siberia and the Road of Bones – where Stalin killed hundreds of thousands of political prisoners building a road which, even today, is pretty hopeless. What they managed to do with their bikes and the support trucks puts anything Top Gear think they might have done at the back of the queue. It was a monumental effort and well done them.

I’m writing this just in France at an pleasant Aire at Richebourg. Mrs Sun has been spitefully burning my left arm as I drive LHD Doris west – it’s still blooming hot and it’s almost 6pm! Yesterday we stayed at another pleasant Stellplatz at Morzig in Germany, managing a bike ride and more of The Long Way Round.

we love Bavaria…

So, back in the UK tomorrow, we hope. We’re off to the Radio Two party in the park on Sunday, a sort of wedding anniversary present. Then I have a week of work in the SW followed swiftly by Book 3. Ambition is for it to be finished in first draft by Christmas Day. In between time I’ve been checking my stats. Unsuspecting Hero continues to sell and Fuelling the Fire is doing OK in the US. I don’t want to go into too much detail yet as these are early days, but the figures from the US are promising with only limited (£5 a day) advertising on Facebook. I should have paid back my small advance in a month or so if numbers stay as they are – fabulous!

That’s us for today!