Moving in…

You really don’t want me to go all political on you again this morning. But I thought I’d share a WhatsApp photo that our elder daughter sent through from The Bahamas last night. I think it sums up where we are today. Unbelievable. Just unbelievable.

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The good news is that book 4 (working title – For Good Men To Do Nothing) is now with my 5 beta readers. It is, for an author, an exciting and a tense time. Will they like it? Will they love it? Will they hate it (and would they tell me)? Last time, for The Innocence of Trust, one of them implored me not to self-publish because – bless them – the book was too good not to go through a traditional publishing route. Alas, I tried a number of agents and got nowhere.

Interestingly, I’ve had two nice rejections for Unsuspecting Hero’s screenplay – and nothing back from 4 others including ITV.

I am going to go back round the baby with book 4. Today I’ll pick a couple of agents and, rather than sell the book, try and sell the whole package. My gut feeling is that nobody is going to be interested in a series – but I’ll give it a go.

We’re back in Bristol and will be here until next weekend (when we’re back at Mary’s for a couple of days).  Then back down here for Christmas. It seems likely that Jen and James will be moving out after Christmas, giving us time to move in (that means painting and decorating whilst sleeping in Doris!) before we go skiing. We’re really looking forward to it now. And, by way of establishing that we are indeed moving in, I have been onto a teaching agency and asked if they’ve got any supply work for an old maths teacher. The fact that I am not professionally qualified – ie, no letters after my name – is a block for some State schools. So we shall see. But, the idea of going back into the classroom even on supply excites me. However, not as much as becoming a successful author…

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Doris outside our house (the one on the right). She’s bigger than the house…

…so, keep at it Roland!

Probably isn’t good enough…

WordPress told me that my blog was ‘probably’ going to be named as ‘blog of the year, 2017.’ But, they wanted me to attend a photoshoot and an all-expenses paid interview in New York. I told them that probably wasn’t good enough and I turned them down.

Oh, and Random House have said that they will probably publish the 4th in the Sam Green series and turn it into a NYT No 1 bestseller. I’d have to attend a good number of exciting, high-profile literary events – with a lots and lots of photoshoots with really famous people. I said that probably wasn’t good enough and will self publish next year.

Do you want another one? OK – probably not. Although, from your perspective probably isn’t good enough.

What is the world coming to? Come, on. Really. Who needs TV – and how are mags like Private Eye managing when the satire is being played out before them?

And I haven’t got onto Trump’s very latest – complaining that the world sees the US through the eyes of CNN – the world’s most popular news channel. And, why don’t we all watch Fox News? That’s like Teresa May complaining that the world gets its British news from the BBC when what they should all be watching is Piers Morgan on Good Morning Britain.

So, let me ask you all again. What is the world coming to? And this is before you mix in the whole Trump/Moore sexual predator/paedophile running sore. I thought we, as a race, had got past that in positions of responsibility. That is, if you break the law or admit to or get caught doing something abhorrent – something which should make your position in authority untenable, then you resign. And you certainly don’t get elected in the first place. If not, then as an ex-teacher, surely I’m at liberty to prey on any vulnerable young person? No, why not? That’s the message.

I may be wrong here, and this may be more of a movement than a man, but how can one person upend liberal society so tumultuously that we are all questioning where the boundary between right and wrong actually is?

We missed the third part of the excellent C4 documentary, ‘Trump – an American Dream.’ It follows his career/life from when he got the reins of his Dad’s multi-million dollar business in the early 80s. What was absolutely fascinating was a 20 second TV interview just before he was about to go bankrupt for the first time. He must have been early 30s at that point. He said, ‘Don’t listen to the reporters – it’s all fake news.’

Fake news.

That was almost 40 years ago. If it doesn’t work for the leader of the free world (sorry Angela – when you get your coalition together you can have that title) then it must be fake. Period.

Please, please don’t tell me that this is a new age that we all have to live in. From Obama – the image of grace and endeavour, to Trump – sorry, if I start writing what I’d like to, someone will sue me. Please. I’m old enough to survive this, but I’m not sure my children are.

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Just back from a icy run. What is the world coming to?

 

 

Grumpy old man

Is it good to be back in the UK? I’m not sure. What are the positives? Leaving aside being close to the ones we love, there are a few. First it’s cheaper here than anywhere else on the continent. Food in particular. It used to be ok when we were getting €1.40 to the pound, but now we’re closer to parity it is very clear that we are very lucky here in the UK. Clothes and technical stuff, as well, that’s cheaper here. C and I couldn’t believe the cost of clothes in the French shops. And we know German clothes are expensive.

Fuel. Diesel in France is the same price in euros, which does make it cheaper, but only if you shop in supermarkets. And, d’you what? I do shop in French supermarkets for fuel, but you always get the impression that you’re not getting super clean diesel. I know it sounds ridiculous, but that’s what it feels like. Over here I always try and fill up at an Esso or Texaco next to an Asda (or similar) where they generally price match. I just feel that the diesel might be better quality. Am I being stupid?
Interestingly diesel is cheaper in Germany, but much more expensive in Italy. It used to be that diesel was cheaper elsewhere everywhere, but not so nowadays. Oh, BTW, LPG is cheaper in the UK.
And the main negatives? Well, the British public can get up your nose. I’m fed up with politics – of all colours. It’s fun to look across The Pond and take the Mikey out of the current state of US politics. But, it’s not so great here either. Jingoism and nationalism (aka Brexit) continues to wear me down. Old Mrs May is driving the thing through, even though at every turn something pops up that shouts ‘don’t do this!’. Leaving aside breaking up a pact that has held us all together since WW2, the ramifications of the process is not going to be great. No matter what the yes sayers might tell us.
And this I think is really influencing day-to-day life here. There’s a grumpiness – more than usual. It’s palpable, it really is. And I can’t see it getting any better any time soon.
Never mind, Christmas is coming. It must be, because the shops have replaced the Halloween tat with Christmas tat. Oh well.
Signing off as a grumpy old man…

Almost home…

I am writing this on the ferry. We are back a couple of weeks earlier than we expected, but at least we have finished the ‘joint’ editing of the book. That went well, it really did. I think C liked the book, and we had far fewer set-tos than we’ve had before. It’s a shorter story (117k words as opposed to 130k for The Innocence of Trust) and I think that shows. On second and third read it’s also quite complicated – which is the point, I don’t write simple stories, they are thrillers after all. So we’ll see. I’m up to chapter 10 out of 19 on edit three, and then it’ll be out to my beta readers for their review. I still aim to publish in late Spring, but could easily bring that forward. Of course, I’d need to think of a title before then.

 

St Quentin

  • How’s it been? Well, I mentioned last time round that we’re going to move into our place in Bristol. It is a small terraced house on a 1980s estate. But there’s room for Doris on the drive and it’s warm – we will still make it our own. We have plenty to do for the next month, including visits to my folk. Christmas is likely to be in our house (how does that sound?). Jen and James will be in their new house and I know they have Christmas planned with his mum and dad. Bex and Steven are flying from The Bahamas to Los Angeles to visit friends of theirs there. But we will have a lot to do, sorting out the place. We have been asked to East Anglia for New Year (thanks P&D) and then we’re due to Chatel on 5 January for 12 days in the snow. What more could we want?
But – there is a cost to going static. We will lose rental income and we will have all of the household bills to pay for, which hitherto, we have avoided. We may even have to get a TV license! To balance this I’m looking at imaginative ways to make a few bob, whilst not restricting ourselves when it comes to travel. Teaching is what I do reasonably well, so I’m looking at part-time avenues there in Bristol. Of course, in an ideal world the books would be flying off the shelves, but that has yet to materialise (although, for the record, the last time I had a ‘no-book’ sale was a single day in September.). But at about £1 a book in royalties, I’m going to have to sell a lot to counter the loss of rental income. We shall see!
And the blog? Well, I’m going to keep at it. Twice a week, Wednesdays and Sundays. I still get a steady readership, so someone is reading this rubbish…

A change in the air?

So we’re heading home. And, somehow, I think things have altered in our life. Some things have become more clear, and others not so. For one, I am a writer. That is central to what I do. Book 4 is coming along nicely and I should have it ready for my beta reader friends in a couple of weeks. That is a month earlier than expected. The other three books continue to sell, and attract reviews. My target remains 10 books a day (without advertising) which would give us a small supplementary income – enough for me to want to write many more. And, more books = more income. Yesterday I sold 7 copies, the day before just 1, the day before that 5. All three books sell and my markets are UK, US and Canada.

 

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I promise to let you know when I am consistently at 10 books a day. It will come!

But that’s where the certainty ends. We will be moving into our 2 up, 2 down house in Bristol in January and will make it home. How long for? We don’t know. Will we still travel? Yes, definitely. Neither of us are certain, but we reckon on being away for more than we’re at home. And Bristol is certainly not our resting place. It’s going to be a stop-gap, to check and see what we think about being non-itinerant.

Will I do some extra work? Possibly. I have a couple of thoughts up my sleeve. One of them is private maths tuition, which I have done before and could restart in a moment. There’s a real market for post GCSE and A-level support, and I can provide that. It would be helpful supplementary income and would/could be very seasonal. I have some other ideas which I will share with you once they are firmer.

So, that’s where we are. We have a full itinerary between now and the New Year and aim to ski (thanks to E&A) in Chatel in early January – as we do (how lucky are we?). So lots to think about as we potter along our way.

Anyhow, must get back to editing!

Sad news

We learnt today that an Army friend of ours died last night. He’s been unwell for a long time and after a valiant battle lasting years, he succumbed to cancer. We have seen a lot of him and his lovely family over the past three years – almost exclusively because I’ve not been working (well, I have been writing, but most of you don’t recognise that as an occupation, so I won’t dwell on that) and have found time. In fact, it is absolutely true to say that one of the reasons we gave everything up and headed off into the hills was because of my pal. He knew and we knew that the disease would take him at some point. Sooner rather than later. And, well, that sharpens your senses. Makes you appreciate what’s important. To abuse the cliche, ‘nobody has “I wish I’d worked harder” chiselled on their tombstone’, followed by ‘this is not a dress rehearsal’, our friend’s illness shook us to action.

So, thanks Seymour. Bless you and your lovely family. I hope you are now free from pain. You were an inspiration. Such dignity and compassion. And, knowing you, you’re already having a party with old pals and relatives. We’ll see you soon.
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It’s difficult to follow that. But I’ll just add some stuff for completeness.
We’re at Saint Marie de la Mare, and this weekend is the big cowboy festival. The locals get on their fabulous white horses and corral a few bulls on a beach miles away. They then bring them into town – a tight group of horses with the bulls in the middle. However, it’s not as simple as that. Other, non-horse riding locals try to disturb the horses with fireworks and other bangs. The aim being to release the bulls. It’s harmless, up to a point, and nobody and no animal seems to be hurt in the process. And it’s a great spectacle.
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We’re going to head home now. It’s two weeks earlier than we expected, but we need to get back for the funeral. We are over halfway through edit 2, and I’m already starting edit 3. Once that’s done I’ll share it with my beta readers and then have a pause. I am at least a month ahead of schedule, so that’s ok.
Books are still selling. Still not 10 a day, but 6 yesterday and 4 so far today. It is a wonder, isn’t it? What makes people buy them? Who wakes up on a Sunday and says, ‘do you know what, today I’m going to buy a book by that little known author, Roland Ladley’?
Good on them, that’s what I say!

Editing away…

We’re now at Saint Marie de la Mare, another old haunt of ours. It’s an old gypsy town on the edge of the Carmargue. It’s our third year in a row. The Aire is right by the sea with water – and the rustic, seaside town (and bull ring) is a short stroll away. However at €13 it’s pricey. We get away with €6.50 back at Plague D’Artiste. The view from our front window is fab through.

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The weather has been Mistrally… sunny but accompanied by the cold, northerly Mistral wind. So cold that you really have to wrap up well to go outside. We can just about manage that.

We are now close to halfway through edit 2 of book 4; lets call it For Good Men To Do Nothing. It’s been a much more benign process than the first three times we’ve done this. I think that’s for two reasons. First, C’s not had much to do with the manuscript, so she’s reading it for the first time and (ask her) loving it. Second I’m getting better at this. I think I’m much sharper at the whole writing thing, so that’s good news for both of us.

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Book sales have pottered along between 2 and 4 a day, with no advertising – on both sides of the pond. I suppose I should really be grateful that, by some quirk of something or other, people seem to want to read my stuff. Ok, so whilst I’m not yet at 10 books a day – my target, there is a residual sales feed which I am very grateful for.

More editing! Must dash …