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…
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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 …

Pick me up!

We’re having a discussion about which films we like. C’s got Clash of the Titans on, and, as a result, I’m writing the blog. For her, anything back in history and escapist seems to work. For me, it’s a decent thriller. Not too high tech, not too deep, but with strong characters. I like the Bourne movies, for example. Anyhow, Clash of the Titans is not for me.

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I fell over today. I’m getting really fed up of falling over. I fell badly in New York and smacked my knee. I fell off the pavement. I was sore for a couple of weeks and I’m not looking forward to going skiing, just in case it blows up. Today, I went for a run down the beach. After last night’s storm, Mrs Sun was out – but it was windy. Somehow or other I tripped on a rise in the sand, landing on my side. I thought at first I’d cracked a rib, but I don’t think so. I’m just very sore. It didn’t stop me from finishing my run, so it can’t be all that bad. Oh, and a couple of nights ago I had the worst case if D&V I’ve had for ever (too much info?). I was violently unwell. I don’t do the V bit. Last time I was that unwell was 25 years ago. Interestingly it only lasted a couple of hours and I was happy as anything the next morning. I don’t get that.
So, to the books. Well, I think I might have mentioned that I have dispatched Unsuspecting Hero’s screenplay to various agents. I will send it to a few more, but not for a couple of weeks. My director friend Frank tells me he’s meeting with a producer this week, so we’ll see how that goes. I’m at the end of edit one of book 4 and loving it. Next is for C and I to read it. That’s always fun. I reckon we’ll have that done by end of the week. Hurrah!
We’re moving away from Plague D’Artiste tomorrow. Inland for a bit, to see a couple of local sights we’ve not visited before. And then back down to St Marie de la Mare for a week or so. The weather looks sunny but colder. But that will suit us.
Have a great week!
Click to buy Fuelling the Fire: https://goo.gl/LBa3Vh
See the trailer for Fuelling the Fire here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uzpw9WLn7qE
Follow Claire and Roland here: The Wanderlings
Read Roland’s thriller – Unsuspecting Hero
and Facebook page: rolandtheauthor

Time for contemplation

The thing about being away is that you get time to reflect. Real, uninterrupted time. And that’s what we’ve been doing (as well as some touristing and book stuff). We’ve been thinking about the next couple of years and what it looks like for us. We’ve been at this full timing malarkey for over three years now, and we are still taken by it. It’s the simplicity, it’s neatness, the freedom. But, it’s also fair to say that C wants some room to expand a bit. Shake out all the old stuff and see what we’ve got. And, whilst originally we saw ourselves having Christmas in sunnier climes, after year one (winter in Sicily and Greece) we have been home for Christmas. It’s about family and friends. And certainly this year we’re home again. And do you know what? It can be blooming miserable in the cold and rain in a small white box.

our usual spot

So what are the ingredients? As luck would have it Jen and James are moving out of the house that we own – they’ve bought their own place in Gloucester. This gives us a two-up, two-down to play with. With, luckily, just enough room to park Doris in the drive. We want the freedom to go away for long lengths of time. We have some plans for next year. We don’t know which country we want to live in, let alone which part of which country. I’m loving the writing and feel more confident about the books now than I ever have done. I do see myself earning a wage of sorts in four or five years time (at, say, book 7 or 8) and we could hang onto then. However, I have no problem with going back to work. Part time or full time. I have to say that going back into the classroom excites me. But maybe not full time.
We have two daughters and husband(s) who want to see us. Bex and Steven are likely to stay abroad for the time being, so we need a slab of time to go and see them. Oh, and we must ski each year. And we have friends and relatives who want to see us, and, without wanting to sound arrogant, need us. And that’s the problem with working full time, of course. Finding the capacity to see people if I were working, would become more complicated. And, finally, C doesn’t want to work. And will follow my lead – so she tells me.
What’s that look like then? Well, we’re not sure. I think we will move into the house in Bristol and make it ours. My rule has always been, if we move into a house I will have to get some work. Well, with the books making a little bit of money, that’s may not be necessary – but we would then need to rein in our plans a bit. So maybe I’ll look for some v part time work? Still ski in January, and hope to go to Spain in May for a couple of months. And we mustn’t forget that Jen and James get married at the end of March.
    I must find a title for book 4
It may be that, once we’ve sorted ourselves out the plan reverts to renting out the house and generating some more income. But, we’ll see.
Exciting hey?
Oh, and I’ve started touting Unsuspecting Hero screenplay around some agents and ITV. And Frank tells me he’s meeting with a producer next week. We can only do what can do

Bill, give me my two hours back!

That’s two hours of my life I’m never going to get back.

I use Google drive. And I have a chromebook which, apart from a couple of keys that are broken, is quicker than Billy the Whizz. I don’t need the Internet to use its word processing app, but when I am connected it saves everything to the cloud without asking, which means I can access my documents anywhere on any machine provided I have Internet. It’s quick because the machine is basically an empty shell. All of the little men who work the apps are in the cloud. If Mr Google needs new men, he hires them. In the cloud. It is invisible to me. My chromebook never needs updating because there is nothing to update. All the new men (sorry, and women) who run my e-world are at Google HQ. I open up my chromebook and it starts. I open up ‘Docs’, the equivalent of Word, and it starts. Every time. Oh, and it’s all free.
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Last year I bought an HP laptop (£250) and paid £70 (annually) to belong to Windows 365. I was able to download MS Office (which includes Word) onto my laptop. I’d did this because I need Word to do an in-depth spell and grammar check, which Google do – but not half as well as Windows. I am, after all, just a maths teacher who now writes for a living. I do need someone to check my work.
This worked well for The Innocence of Trust. But, 8 months later as I tried this afternoon to open Word on my almost new laptop, it doesn’t work. I have paid my subscriptions. I even used my MiFi internet connection down here in the south of France, using precious GB allowance, so that Windows could update my laptop. Still it won’t work. I tried again. And again. You can see where this is going?
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IT’S SO FRUSTRATING!!!!!!! That’s me shouting at Bill sodding Gates. I have never liked the Microsoft monopoly on all this stuff. Thank goodness for Mr Google.
But, some good news. I have finished book 4 – I’m rather liking the title ‘For Good Men To Do Nothing’. Still not firm yet. I am really pleased with myself for two reasons. First that I finished it well before the December deadline – I have worked relentlessly at it. Second, I rather like the epilogue. I have always used the epilogue to wrap up where things got to, and clear any loose ends. But I also use it to surprise my readers. This time, for book 4, I was just working on the ‘wrapping up bit’, and was about to pen a conversation between Sam and Jane in Sam’s campervan. And that would be that. Instead, I started writing about another character – and it got all exciting! No spoilers here. I’m so thrilled that I have managed to pull something out of that. I do love the book, and I hope you will love it too.
And, we’ve made it done here – the south coast of France. It has been a slog. The weather’s not been great and I drove all day yesterday, almost 250 miles. Interestingly, that was easygoing easy bit. The A75 motorway from Clement-Ferrand to Montpellier is the most fantastic road. It takes you right across the Massif Central, and the route is all up and down, through Autumn trees. Most of the route is over 1,000 metres – and it’s free! Except the Millau bridge, which costs €12 for Doris; but that is worth every penny. So, some advice. If you’re heading down south take the A75. You won’t be disappointed.
Finally, what are we up to over the next 4 weeks? I’ve got a lot of non-book 4 stuff to do (like touting the Unsuspecting Hero screenplay). And I have to do edit 1 of book 4; then C and I have to do edit 2. She’s not been involved in this book at all – normally I read chapters out to her as I go along. So it’s going to be interesting to see how that goes.
And, of course, put our feet up a bit. It is great to be in Doris with the sun streaming through her front window in our usual spot on Plague D’Artiste. At €6 a night and a lovely town on our doorstep, it really works for us.
Thinking of you.