Mrs Sun

You can’t argue with the weather. The fact that it’s so hot you can’t walk barefoot on the tarmac and, among many Brits, tempers inevitably have shortened as the temperature has risen, is by-the-by. It’s fab. And we love it.

Other than an extended welcome to Bex and Steven, work continuing to occupy most of my time and other general duties, the last couple of days have been about the book. Whilst it’s all tough – reproducing the wrap-round cover with spine width and bleed, re-typesetting the interior and sharing the new work with my editor/proofer – it is so good to be in control. Whatever you read in a couple of weeks time, however you see the cover, the only one to blame is me. I used to really worry about making manuscript amendments. What if I inadvertently press a key and don’t notice? What happens if I press a couple? Now I’m in charge (and can upload a new manuscript (if necessary) at a moment’s notice, I’m much more confident. Rosemary and I are working through the book on the cloud, with MS track changes. That is working really well and speeds up any changes. I hope to have a second proof in my hands by next Thursday and then publish for Monday 8 July – just in time for the summer rush.

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it’s not all thrills and spills in For Good Men To Do Nothing…

I really (really) hope you like it. Like the previous three, there”s a huge chunk of effort mixed with some blood, sweat and tears in the writing. And a few drops more of all of that to get it into production. As I said: I really hope you enjoy it.

Well, another short Wednesday, I’m afraid. I’m sure they will be more to chat about on Sunday. I hope Mrs Sun stays with you for some time.

Growing excitement…

I received 2 copies of the proof of For Good Men To Do Nothing  on Thursday. It was like giving birth. Twins. Brand new and squeaky. Baby analogy over. The typesetting was all wrong – it’s to do with how you prepare your script for CreateSpace, the Amazon paper-publishing wing. I have always paid someone to do that for me, but this time I thought I’d have a go myself. Idiot. But, with some work on Saturday, I think I’m there. Once all the script amendments are in, I’ll resubmit and get a second proof to check. All of this may delay the publishing date by a week, but I’m determined to be my own boss on this.

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my baby…

I’ve reread the manuscript and made some changes. Rosemary, my proofer/editor (hello Rosemary!), has done a fab job and my subsequent changes were ones of ‘tone’. I have to say that I don”t think I can do any better than For Good Men To Do Nothing. I really can’t. I am at the zenith of my abilities as a writer. I”m not saying it’s any good (although, if I don’t think it is, you’r’e hardly going to like it), but I can’t do any more to make it any better. Sorry.

And I’ve had another go at the cover. This is mostly about the photo that provides the background for the cover. I’ve tried to make it ‘as one’. It’s complicated, that’s all I can say. Again, for the first three books I paid someone to do that. This time it’s all me

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Anyhow. The really good news. Bex and Steven came back from The Bahamas yesterday (hence a day late for the blog). They have six weeks here until they head off to Seoul for three years in SK. It is great to see them. Thanks to Mary for having us again, so we could launch to Gatwick yesterday morning early-doors. And it was great to have the whole family round last night (in our new, but not v big garden). Unfortunately I’m at work for the next 4 weeks, so will miss a lot of Bex and Steven’s stay. Ho hum… As you’d expect, they are going to be here and there, including a trip to Madeira and then Bex goes off to Florence with pals of hers for a couple of later in July.

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Surprise, surprise! On Saturday whilst I was in Mary’s house and C and Mary were downtown metropolitan Godalming, C bumped into a v old Army pal of ours, Alex and his wife Sarah. He popped up to see me and, as is always the case with old Army friends, it was like we”d only been apart for a few days. Fab.

Finally, for the record. My thanks to Rosemary – editor/proofer. We met on Saturday morning and I was met with a wave of enthusiasm and energy which was almost overwhelming. She’s shared Unsuspecting Hero‘s screenplay with a director friend of hers and continued to tell me how wonderful she thought Sam Green was in comparison to so many other thriller series. I know a good number of reviewers love the series, and I know some pals do. But it’s so good to meet someone who is genuinely and uncompromosingly energetic about the whole thing. Just what I needed…

A day early? Surely not?

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C’s loving the garden…

Phew. I’m exhausted. Marking books, writing reports. And whereas our hoity-toity public school teachers have just over 2 weeks left before the summer break, us hard-working state school teachers have our nose pressed against the grindstone for another 5 weeks. I’m not sure I’m going to make it before some useful part of me falls off and can’t be sewn back on again. I’ll do my best.

US politics, which has been my very own soap opera for the last year or so, is beginning to wear me down. It is now so partisan that it’s difficult to establish where the truth is. I reckon if His Trumpleness continues to rip immigrant children from their parents at the border and then stick them in cages in a disused Walmart in downtown Texas, there’s going to by a Civil War. There is so much hatred out there it’s going to be difficult, if not impossible, to heal. Donald has to take responsibility for this. He is the man setting the tone of the argument.

I’m now waiting patiently for two proof copies of For Good Men To Do Nothing to arrive. C has just shouted from the kitchen, where she is making some other fatless mixture of grass and root vegetables, ‘Hopefully this will be the one that will really take off?’ Let’s keep our fingers crossed. I have to say that there are around 5,000 copies of my books in circulation and I am close to 300 unique reviews (4.2/5.0 average) across all platforms. That, I guess, in itself is a good thing. But, as I’ve said countless times here – I’m after 10-books a day, which should give us a small but really helpful income. Currently I am one-tenth of that, so there is some way to go. I will, as always, keep you up to date.

That’s all from me. C tells me I’m a day early with this. That just shows you how befuddled my brain is at the moment.

Have a good week!

The book, the book…

Not so long ago there were one and a half ways to get a novel to the public: you’d need an agent. Many moons ago you found an agent by sending your full, printed manuscript wrapped in brown paper, to a dusty agent’s office in London. Most agents would look over a couple of manuscripts a day, stopping at the end of the first page if they were put off, and then they, or someone in their office, would tap out a mice rejection note, and Mr Postman would bring you that note about 6 weeks after you’d sent the manuscript in.

[For accuracy, you might follow the same procedure and send your script straight to a publisher, but very few publishers would accept your work unless you were already a name in some sense or the other.]

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still getting decent reviews for all three books – I have over 300, averaging 4.3/5 stars

The arrival of the internet and word processors meant that more and more agents accepted electronic manuscripts, but the process was the same. It is interesting, but not relevant. that there are still one or two agents today who only accept paper manuscripts. Just as interesting, but still not relevant (did you know?), is that Jeffery Archer writes by hand and gets a flunky to type up his work?

And everyone still knew that getting a novel published via this process was as rare as hens’ teeth, so aspiring writers either had to have a second income stream, be supremely confident, or be as mad as a fish. Probably all of those three. As a result, there weren’t a good number of us – because the sane among us knew that failure was inevitable. What’s the quote from someone like JK Rowling? ‘I could wallpaper my bedroom with rejection letters and have plenty spare.’ Indeed.

Even with the dawn of the internet, the number of writers didn’t increase – because the process and rate of failure was the same, but with fewer felled forests.

Then someone invented the e-book. And spotting a market, Amazon decided to allow any idiot to publish their e-book for free. Boom! No, sorry, Kaboom! All of a sudden there are more novels than readers and, like choosing a series or a film on Netflix, you never sure what you’re going to get. This is because, unless a writer is a complete numpty and designs a rubbish front cover, the amateur’s book (on a pixel-screen) looks just the same as one that Penguin has put out there. Your cost = £0; Their’s – £10s of thousands.

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excuse the quality – original is pdf

This is a good thing. And it’s a bad thing. Writers, indeed many good writers – who have enough rejection slips to run a biomass power station, can now find an audience. That’s good.

The bad? There’s so much chaff out there, it’s hard for punters to find the wheat. And without a decent marketing budget – which nearly all writers do not have – getting a book noticed is next-to-impossible.

Unless. Two things, I think. The first is you have to write something completely amazing and totally original – almost a new genre. You still have to find an agent, and that will attract more heartache than most mortals can endure, but you have a chance. A good agent will find a good publisher – and they will put their hands in their pockets. Second, you are already someone – a name. Take my genre – thrillers – for example. I’ll only cite one example, but there are many. Frank Gardner, the brilliant BBC security correspondent. He’s just launched the second in the Luke Carlton series, Ultimatum. I’ve not read it, so I shouldn’t comment. But I can say reviews are mixed. It’s about an SIS/MI6 agent (they’re not agents, Frank, they’re case officers) in an ‘action-packed and unerringly authentic’ thriller. Good luck to him. I tried to get on with I am Pligrim, by Terry Hayes (ex-Hollywood screenwriter and journalist; another name), which was the ‘only thriller you need to read this year‘ – in 2015. It was good, but too arcane and a bit slow for me. I did give it my best shot, I promise.

And that’s the thing about books (and music – and any art form). It’s in the eye of the beholder.

So, being a name (Dame Stella Rimington, ex-boss of MI5 – another successful cross-over to the novel business; I know, I know, I only said I would mention one) is a golden ticket. [Oh, bear with me, the biggest, latest and brightest is, of course, Bill Clinton – his new novel, The President is Missing, written with James Patterson, is out there now and getting mixed reviews. But do you see what he did there? Ex-president. Goes into the writing business with the best-selling thriller-writer of today? Name-squared.]

I did mention that there were two ways to secure publication. Actually there’s a third. It’s called ‘vanity publishing’, and all of us writers turn our noses up at it. I have just done an internet search, trying to find a vanity author who has actually gone on a become a recognised name. Ehh, I can’t find one – which speaks volumes.

Why all this writing stuff, this Sunday morning? Well, I have updated For Good Men To Do Nothing‘s script – thanks to my editor/proofreader. I love it. I have then, for luck, stuck it back though Word’s very powerfully spell and grammar check, and made some more corrections. And I have topped-and-tailed it. It is now with Amazon. Yesterday afternoon, I worked on the wrap-round cover, which I have always paid someone to do, as I didn’t think my competence stretched that far. That was much easier than I thought it was going to be as CreateSpace provide a template when they know how many pages your book is – it’s all to do with spine width. And that’s been submitted. Hurrah! If it comes back clean, then I’m going to order a proof copy, which I hope should be with me by next weekend.

That should make an early July publication date workable. I know this is my fourth and I’ve forgotten how excited I was prior to every launch, but I am now very excited. Very. Excited.

And then I’m going to focus on marketing. Once I finish work I’m going to take it seriously. The end date is Christmas Day 2018 – and I’m going to spend the money Amazon gave me to put Fuelling the Fire into their Prime Lending thing. It’s not a great deal of money, but it’s enough to prove whether or not self e-dvertising helps. More of which later.

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mmm, v green bedroom…

For the record, we’ve finished the back garden, and with some burst of energy that I didn’t realise I had, we’ve painted our bedroom and C has sorted out new curtains. It looks fab.

And I haven’t been sacked from school. Yet.

 

I know, I know

I know. You don’t want me to go on about the Singapore summit. I know.

I know.

So I won’t.

Except. Come on. It was a nothing burger. It was. His Trumpness gave away joint military exercises (which are key for any force which needs to remain operational) and got nothing new in return. No discussion on human rights. Nothing substantive on denuclearisation. And, come on, Donald hates the Iran deal, which at least includes verifiable denuclearisation. Kim whatshisname, a tyrant chosen to take over from his tyrant Dad because he was the nastiest of all the siblings, sat at the same table as the leader of the free world – who said subsequently that Kim whatshisface ‘loves his country’. Huh? What? He. Loves. His. Country?

No. He loves power, and he will do anything to hang onto it, including executing a senior general because he fell asleep at a meeting. But Donald met him anyway and now we can all sleep safe at night because ‘I trust him’. Mmmmm. Not sure. On the other hand, there is ‘a special place in Hell’ for Justin Trudeau.

Whatever next? We are living in a reality show. Someone’s taking the mikey. The lights are going to come on soon and we’re going to blink the madness away.

Anyway, at least C and I will be able to pop over the border to the new hotels that Donald has opened up on the NK beaches when we fly to see Bex and Steven next year.

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back from the editor – so excited

Any other news? Well, I am v excited that For Good Men To Do Nothing is back from the editor and it all looks fab. I’m still on for an ‘end of the first week’ in July publishing date. And for the record we popped up to Jen’s on Monday and went for a lovely walk in the hills around Gloucester.

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big hill … and Jen

We’re going to Hell in a handcart

OK, so use your imagination. I’m a 13 year-old girl and my name is Dottie. Me and my 6 friends have all got together in Justina’s bedroom to make ourselves up for the ‘party’. Me and Justina have a love-hate relationship, but I’m tougher than she is, so I get my own way. Just recently, after I said that she has to give me half of her pocket money, she said that my bum looks big in the tight pants I wear. I (just about) forgave her for that, especially as she’s now giving me her pocket money. Anyhow, we all agreed what we’re going to wear, we all put on too much makeup and we all look pretty fabulous, although I look bigly fabulous than everyone else – because I say so. And we are all soooo looking forward to the party. But, and it’s a bigly but, on the way out of the door Justina reminds me that my bum looks big in my tight pants. AND THAT’S NOT NICE.

Justina is weak and feeble, and I hate her.

So, poo to them, they can go to the party by themselves, which will spoil it for all of them as my Dad was going to drive us there in his expensive Cadillac. To be spiteful I post my feelings on Facebook so everyone knows: I really hate Justina.  Then, apparently, Marcie posted that we all ought to act more like grownups and stop having temper tantrums, and keep our teddies in our cots. Well, I hope she gets spots. She always smells of frogs.

Did you also hear that Donald reckons he will know within a minute whether or not Kim Jon Un will denuclearise? Apparently he has a touch, so he tells us. ‘It’s like knowing within a a few minutes if you going to be good friends with someone. You’ve heard that. right? Within a couple of minutes?’

Noting that he’s sacked many of the (‘good’) people he’s hired, and The White House is ‘an awful place to work’, according to Chief of Staff, Kelly, I’m not convinced I trust Donald’s judgement on whether or not he’s going to be good friends with someone – or not. Certainly within minutes. Never mind, he’s off in Singapore now and will doubtless spin whatever outcome that comes from the summit – which, by the way, links together the Leader of the Free World (sorry, is that Merkel?) and a tyrant who has murdered countless thousands of dissidents and incarcerated many more, and runs his state like an Orwellian dystopia. I’d make that one-love to the North Korean, whatever the outcome. Apparently human rights is not on the table for this summit. If it were me, I’d have made it a prerequisite of any meet.

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new patio, yippee!

Whatever. We’ve had a good weekend so far, after, for me, what has been a very manageable week at work (6 weeks to go!). We haven’t stopped working on the garden, which less grass seed, is now fit for purpose. I even did some concreting to create a step by the back gate. C and I have just had a beer out there on our new (two-person) patio, and are v pleased with ourselves. Especially as the total cost was around £100 plus about 30 wheelbarrow loads of top soil to the local tipping place. C has expertly made the sitting room curtains – they look fab. Next (by the end of next weekend) is our bedroom, less the new carpet. That should then see us through the summer.

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the Spanish foursome were great, it went downhill from there

We did take late yesterday afternoon off to wander down to the Bradley Stoke carnival (with no floats). BS is a lovely town – it really suits us, and the carnival proved that point. There is a huge town green which was full of stands and a music arena, where bands played from an open artic truck. We got there for a Spanish foursome (two guitars and a pair of bongos) who were fab. We decided to pop home and get the bikes. We came back for the final two acts, which were a Bonnie Tyleresque band, where the female lead would have got a big red cross from Simon Cowell after just 15 seconds – but we grew to like her. The final act was a Scottish rock band…except, and I said to C, ‘If there’s a bagpipe, I’m leaving’, there were two bagpipes – plus a rock band (no singer). For me it was painful, so we left before the end of the set. However, with Mrs Sun in attendance it was a great afternoon.

My proofreader, Rosemary, tells me For Good Men To Do Nothing is fab (‘the best yet’) and will be back with me by Wednesday. Can’t wait. I hope to have it all sorted by the time the public schools head off on holiday – the end of the first week in July. Hopefully.

So, all’s good here. There has been a real kerfuffle with M&D which we have sorted from a distance. They now have professional carers going in twice a day – and Mum (Dad is completely out of it) seems much happier. We are prepared to go and see them next weekend, if necessary. If not we will see them in a couple oi weeks time – as planned.

Hoping you had a great weekend…

Dull as dishwater!

So, back at work and all’s well. Only one detention today – a boy threw a glue stick across the classroom hitting another child on the head. Yes, I know. Why would anyone think they would get away with this? Beats me. But there’s nothing (seemingly) that I can do to stop the odd 5/6 kids (out of about 150) just thinking that it’s OK to mess about. Apparently I’m not the only one – I see and speak to plenty of teachers that are up against it. In my day we would have been in front of the Head with our hands on our knees. Whack! I can’t say that that would help here. Some of us were just as badly behaved…

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new bedroom curtains…

The biggest issue we have now is my M&D. Dad has reached that stage where, not only can he not complete a sentence, he is also not making any sense. I had a chat to him yesterday; it centred on him not wanting to go to Germany. He can hardly stand upright and lots of other functions are degrading. Mum, bless her, is coping – but only just. We have to remember that she had a major stroke 6 years ago (after heart surgery) and is not in the best of health. C and I are three and a half hours away, so getting up to see them (we try every 4/6 weeks) is not without its challenges.

And to be honest, neither of us come from nuclear families – all living in the same village. Mum and Dad’s parents went into a home and M&D were living in the next door village and the rest of the family within cycling distance. So there’s no precedent for opening the granny annex (for us, that would be Doris, mmmm). Next step (tomorrow) is to get in touch with the social services and ask them to pop round and see what they say. I think they’ll be recommending that Dad goes away – I’m afraid. Mum reckons that she’ll be OK in the house by herself. I’m not sure, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. What a sorry state of affairs. Ho hum.

Five weeks to launch of For Good Men To Do Nothing? When you say it like that, it seems v close. I’ve not yet had the manuscript back from my editor/proofer, but I have done some more work on the cover. Submitting a full wrap-round cover to Create Space is not without anxiety – and I’m still not there yet. Assuming I get the book back in time to make/agree the amendments it may well be the cover that ends up being the thing that’s sticky. We’ll see.

Anyhow, sorry this is short and as dull as dishwater. I’ll try harder at the weekend.