Home – at last

C told me to write  “not much to say today”. I think she thinks I’m tired and need break from all the words. I’ve just finished Edit 2 of The Innocence of Trust – and love it. Next is to transfer the whole book onto a Word document and let Bill Gates have a look at it. Then, speak to Kindle Press (who are still not talking to me…grrr) and/or look directly to a publisher (say Penguin) and see if they’ll look at the manuscript. I’m also offering it to a couple of friends to read over Christmas. I know it sounds boastful, but I am very excited by it. More so than Fuelling the Fire which has now sold 2,300 copies.

Christmas shopping in Calais!

Christmas shopping in Calais!

But, sales have dropped dramatically. Not to an standstill, but way down on the 450 copies I sold a week before last. I might even struggle to make 100 of both books this week. Can I explain it? Nope. I think it’s Amazon advertising – but I can’t be sure until I talk to them. I might kick off with some more of my own advertising next week.

We’re back in the UK now with a v busy schedule. Tonight at Mary’s, tomorrow, Friday and Saturday at P&K’s where we have organised a get-together for a bunch of us who were based in Minden (W Germany) in the early 80s. I feel a hangover coming on… I’m working in Gloucester all day Friday and then next week we’re with Jen and then back to Mary’s for her big birthday party. I then have 3 days work in Wells, then to Colchester to see M&D and then Christmas. Phew… with Rebecca and Steven back from the Bahamas.

So. It’s all go. And last night at Calais it was so cold! Doris survived (we love her – our one constant) even if we forgot to put the heating on! Somehow it remained above freezing inside and everything seems to have survived frost damage.

Anyhow. Enough from me…I promise to spend more time thinking about what I write. You must all be very bored by now.

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Heading home (still)

We are just over half way north. We’ve stopped at 3 French Aires, all of them pretty perfect. Last night we stayed next to a canal (big canal – they don’t mess about in France), surrounded by boats and for just €6 we get a spot plus electricity – which makes it only two nights in 5.5 weeks where we’ve been plugged in. That’s something.

where we stayed Saturday night...

where we stayed Saturday night…

And, looking back, it has all been something. The weather has been extremely kind to us with Mrs Sun out nearly every day, except for a couple towards the end – and that was when C and I were head down on the book. It has been cold at times, but out of the wind it’s been shorts and t-shirts. Much like last year. And, of course, with only 5 chapters of The Innocence of Trust completed when we caught the ferry in mid-October, we are now at the end (although I am one quarter if the way through Edit 2). That’s well ahead of schedule, and it means I can crack on with editing (etc) between now and Christmas.

Yesterday morning we woke up on the ramparts of Landres, a spectacular walled town east of Paris. It sits on a bluff high above the Marne river. So we spent the morning wandering around the town’s walls, before heading into the centre for a bit of shopping and a cup of coffee – sat in one of those French cafes full of men (and some women) drinking, chatting and watching TV. I could have stayed there all day!

And today we travelled further north in much more pleasant, but colder weather. The temperature matching the sales of FtF and UH which have gone south a bit in the last week. I’m not sure why that is, but I guess it can only be down to the power of Amazon’s marketing. They’re still not talking to me … But word on the web is that they boost your book at about the 90 day period (hence the peak in sales) and then let it slip. Although they do promise ‘half-price’ campaign, which has yet to come. I did look at about 20 other Kindle Scout ‘winners’. A couple were placed higher than FtF in the rankings (currently 15.5k, but has been as high at 1.5k), but most were much lower – some as low as 330k. So I’m v thankful for small mercies!

Anyhow, that’s enough from me for now. Sorry this is late, but limited wifi has been a problem.

Out of words…

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I’m all out of words, I’m afraid. C and I have just finished Edit 1 of The Innocence of Trust (or The Trust of the Innocent – as suggested by our younger daughter, Jen). It’s been a 9-5 existence, which has surprised the begeezers out of both of us. But it’s done now. Phew! It is something else, I can tell you. As a writer having an editor sit there and poke around (I know I said that last time) at your masterpiece. C is good at sorting out some of the English, and she’s particularly good at spotting when something doesn’t quite make sense – and that’s the bit that hurts. Because, as I’m sure you’d understand, I know exactly what’s happening – so why can’t you, the reader see it? Are you an idiot?

Obviously not. So I guess there were probably 20 times when I had to redraft a whole paragraph so that it explained what I was seeing, rather than what you weren’t able to. We got there in the end.

But, that is the tough bit done. It’s like running a marathon. It’s hard from the beginning, and gets tougher the longer you’re at it (120,000 words long), and then you hit the wall at about 100,000 words and you make yourself the promise that you’re never going to do that again. And then it’s done, and within a few days you’re wondering what the fuss was about.

Our Jen won a photo competition with this shot of her dog, Cassie.

Our Jen won a photo competition with this shot of her dog, Cassie.

And for me, now, with over 2,000 books in circulation, there’s an element of responsibility that nags at you. Sam Green has a small, but growing, fan club. My latest Amazon.com review is 2 lines long: “A complex plot which is explained better than most. I like and care for Sam Green.” Do you have any idea how that makes me feel when I’m writing her? She has to be just so…I really hope I’ve managed that.

Anyhow. What next? We’re off on Friday, staying with Andrea and Richard on Monday night just short of Calais. (Thanks you two!) And then a whirlwind of stuff until just after Christmas. I have two slabs of work, and we have a myriad of people to see.

Insofar as the book – I’ve got Edit 2 to finish, which includes checking dates and times. Then it’s into a Word document and getting it thoroughly grammar checked (Bill Gates is much better at that than his Google equivalent). I have a couple of people who want to pre-read it over Christmas. And whilst that’s happening I think I’ll look for a publisher, other than Amazon – if they want me. There’s a front cover to design, and the back page – so lots to do.

Finally, last week’s sales of FtF and UH were fabulous, but we woke up on Monday morning and all of a sudden stats are down – it’s a mystery. I’m not disheartened though. I really love TIoT, and like the marathon, I’m already thinking of new plot lines. Hurrah!

Editing for Europe…

It’s just 7 in the morning here, 6am if you’re in the UK. So I’ll write quietly. It’s pitch black still outside and the weather has turned. Up until now nearly every day has been Mrs Sun plus Mr Cold North Wind. Lovely sat in a sheltered spot, but chilly on your knees when you catch the wind. Now, the forecast is the back end of the U.K.’s storm – sunshine and blustery showers. We are due to leave here next Friday (Ferry the following Wednesday). I’m not sure we’ll last that long, but we’ll see.

our village, Le Grau de Roi

our village, Le Grau de Roi

The batteries are holding up. I’ve run Doris’s engine for half an hour a day over the past two days and all seems ok. One of the issues is that I need 240v to charge my chromebook. Doris provides that at a flick of a switch – but at a cost. The inverter, which is all singing and all dancing, takes 3 Amps, just to run. That’s expensive for a laptop charger that only draws 2 Amps. I might have to bring a simple plug in converter next time. We shall see.

We’ve walked, run and cycled (yesterday up the coast and had a coffee in fabulous sunshine at La Grand Motte marina – which is huge). But apart from that and Strictly, it’s been editing The Innocence of Trust. It goes like this: breakfast, chapter, walk/cycle/run, lunch, chapter, chapter, supper. C is a very good editor – she’s expert at picking out what I’m not good at. Mostly it’s about removing superfluous stuff, and tidying sentences. It’s tough – in some ways tougher than writing. My heart and soul goes into every sentence. And then someone I love comes along and pokes at it with a sharp stick. It’s hard, but necessary. The fact that we’re still talking to each other at the end of the day is testament to 30 years of marriage.

Fuelling the Fire and Unsuspecting Hero continue to do well in the US. I don’t want to expose too much, as I really fear this is a short term thing, but over the past three weeks sales have been 215, 282 and 313 (FtF to UH about 3.5:1). And I am confident I’m going to break last week’s figure this week. But it can’t go on like this, and I guess will plateau and reduce to something close to my target of 100 a week.

And I slipped into the top-2000 books on Amazon.com on Thursday. That’s out of all books on sale in Amazon – paperback and kindle. I didn’t stay there (currently 3,000) but it was fun while it lasted. I was well within the top 100 terrorist thrillers at one point (still am), which technically makes FtF an Amazon best seller, but I’m not going to shout about it.

Reviews remain v positive. I’m up to 36 for FtF now on Goodreads, which is the place to be. I think the target for any Indie author is 50 – I’m confident of getting there at about Christmas time (average score is 4.39/5, which, again, I think is good).

We’ll see. I’m still not selling in the UK. I’m pressing Amazon to advertise here/there. But they are incredibly slow to acknowledge that I exist, which is frustrating. I’m not sure what I’m going to do about that.

Wish us luck with the remaining bit of Edit 1. Should be finished by Friday.

So that’s that then…

I think we’ve been ‘off grid’ for three weeks. And we’ve driven a couple of very short distances. During this time we used our electricity without thought, and used the inverted 240v to charge my lap top and run a desk lamp in the lounge. The batteries are holding up well – our little machine tells me we get down to about -40Ahr by first thing in the morning. Generally, with some of Mrs Sun, the two solar panels can peak at 10 amps, but I reckon average input is about 3 amps over a 10 hour period. So we must be losing power slowly over time. And, this means that for the first time this evening, were about to the end the day in negative territory. That is, starting the evening activities with batteries that aren’t fully charged.

we cycle to coffee in here - Aiges-Mortes, fabulous

we cycle to coffee in here – Aiges-Mortes, fabulous

(This is interesting stuff?) It’s going to get cloudy over the weekend, so input will drop further, and I am beginning to wonder at what point with of 345 AHr’s worth of batteries, we’re going to have to start the motor? 345 equates to about 170 useable AHrs… If you do the maths, I reckon we’ll struggle to last the weekend, but we shall see. Thank goodness I fitted the second solar panel!

The big news is that I have finished The Innocence of Trust;,except the Epilogue. It has been 125,000 words of pain and pleasure; I stopped typing last night at midnight. Although I did check Chapter 20 this morning. C now has the final chapter to read for the first time, and then we’re in edit mode for the next 10 days. Should be fun! I have to say that I love it as much as I loved the two previous books – so I hope you do too!

We’ve walked, cycle to Aigues-Mortes for coffee again, and run some more. It’s been a very simple existence centred around finishing the book. And I have to thank C for putting up with me. Anyhow, it’s over for another year.

Sales of UH and FtF remain ‘strong’ in the US – I promise to tell you what that means once we have enough statistical evidence to know that the sales thing has legs.

Here for a while, as we have reasonably reliable internet, eventually found via the Fon network (hurrah!).

So, all’s good.

Keep writing!

It’s been all about the book I’m afraid. Massively so. We have remained at Plage des Artiste and, now that the wind has died down, it has turned into the place we remembered from last year. Just fabulous – although the nights are cold. We coffee’d out every day, and always found somewhere where Mrs Sun is not accompanied by Mr Wind. Today I was shorts and t-shirts as we supped away, but then put my heavy jumper back on the moment we turned the corner. But you can’t beat it.

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Now, what about the books? Well, sales in the US continue to be strong, if that’s the right word. I’ve decided not to mention numbers for now, in case I have to report next time that I sold a single book and I’ve given up writing for good, and will now sell my body to the highest bidder. But, holding my breath, sales remain ‘strong’.

The Innocence of Trust has taken its pound of flesh, and then some. I was awake this morning at 4.30, going over the final plot lines (I’m now 19/20 chapters down, but I will need an epilogue). Typing at 6.30am, and will finish tonight at about 10.30. This writing business is a monster, it really is. But, as soon as I begin to type, I love it, and whatever juices I have start to flow. That doesn’t take away from the fact, unfortunately, that it is bleeding me dry.

Sam, you’ll be pleased to hear, is just as mad as ever. And she’ll inevitably come out of it with all her limbs and less of her faculties. So, much like me then.

Sorry this is short, but at 105,000 words, I am running out of them!

Have a great week.

Ehh?

I’m speechless. Is it just me? Am I the only one who thinks the nuclear codes are going to be in the hands of a child from next February? I really don’t know what to say, or did the people who voted see something I didn’t? I hope he has good staff, and somebody is with him every time he opens his mouth. And checks what he tweets. Or just does the job for him and lets him take all the glory.

You may have noticed, I can’t even mention his name.

Of course, it was the Democrats who lost it. I don’t know a great deal bout Bernie Sanders, but I’m guessing he would have stood a much better chance of grabbing the Blue Collar workers in the rust belt, than her nibs. She put me off, from the start.

Oh well. Well just have to wait and see. It’ll probably be all right on the night. You never know he might be impeached for behaving inappropriately with an intern. Stranger things have happened.

walking along the beach at St-M-d-l-M

walking along the beach at St-M-d-l-M

What about us? We’re fine. Mrs Sun is very much with us, but there’s a cold northerly blowing which means you need your thermals on if you venture outside. We’ve ran, walked and eventually drove away from St-Marie-de-la-Mer this morning and are now parked up in our fave spot, just by the beach at Plague D’Artiste. It’s still €20 a day, but a local French motorhomer told us only to pay for the day bits, which makes it about €12. You have to pay for water though.

Books are selling well – except for today, but I guess that because the whole of the US has shut down in mourning now that they realise they have a teenager in charge. I sold over 200 books last week, which was a record, and this week seems to have started well. We’ll see. The Innocence of Trust is now onto Chapter 17, and over 100,000 words. I do need to be careful that I don’t rush the last 5 chapters, even though I am v keen to get it finished before we get on the ferry on 30 Nov.

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Anyhow – all’s well with us. Hope you lot are OK.