How did we miss that?

You know that you wouldn’t think twice about going on holiday to the south coast? Sussex by the sea. Bournemouth and Portsmouth – all those ships. Portland Bill, the Jurassic coast. Lyme Regis and the strange woman in a black cape about to be swept out to sea. The inlets of Devon and the raggedy coastline of Cornwall. Take your pick. It’s all fabulous, if a little kiss-me-quick and uber busy in the summer. You know, the tailbacks into Dorchester. The A303 merging into a single lane by Stonehenge and then end-to-end bumpers until you murder the children and drive off the end at The Lizard, leaving everything to the cats’ home. That’ll teach them.

You know what it’s like. And you love it.

And yet, the thought of going to the north coast of France on holiday … think again, buddy. If it’s anything like Calais and the hinterland with all that industry and one, main street villages with those awful red-brick houses, discoloured further by huge trucks trundling along Le Route Nationales to avoid paying the autoroute tolls. No way. Nope. Not us. Anyway, the sea would be cold, and greasy in a ferry-fart like way. All those ships polluting the waves. And the weather. It’s always gloomy. Always.


Castles and everything

But let’s get our facts right. First, it’s the same busy sea. In fact, the further south you go, even just into Normandy, the coastline steers south and the container ships are a distance memory. It is warmer. It must be, because the moment you cross The Channel, your geographically further south. And very soon you’re parallel with The Channel Islands, where rich British people with pointy boats, oily blue jumpers, gardens full of tropical flowers and not a care for people like you and I live. It is warmer. And the coastline is fabulous. High, sandstone cliffs falling dramatically to beautiful coves – and some long crescent beaches. Small holiday villages with no Butlins. Beautiful Cotswold stone-built houses, rolling hills, long Norfolk-like beaches, estuaries, lighthouses, mussel beds, and, when you touch Brittany, scenery straight from the south of France with the same sand, the same pines and the same white-so-it-hurts-your-eyes sailing boats, although not quite the same footage as the richer-than-yow from Monte Carlo. It’s quiet, clean and French. What’s not to like?


As good as it gets?

And, seriously, you get that all from Wissant which is just 15 kms west of Calais. Why bother trying to find somewhere to park in a grubby, grassy carpark to look at Corfe Castle – along with 15,000 other people – when you can take your pick of 15,000 castles (ok, so I exaggerate) just across La Manche? We have been converted. It’s lovely.

I almost forgot! You also have the whole D-Day invasion thing going on. With tanks, and display boards and extraordinary cemeteries (the US one at Omaha Beach is not to be missed). The kids will love it.

I write this just short of Cap Frehel. It’s one of Brittany’s many pointy bits. We’ve parked up in a free aire, walked 10 miles along coastline that’s as good as anything we’ve done in the southwest, with just a few people for company. We’ve seen a huge lighthouse, stacks of stacks, an estuary, an 11th century fort on a peninsular, had lunch on the beach, envied people in yachts enjoying the coves and made it back in time for tea and medals. What’s not to like?

Moving on.

We spent the first half of the walk reminiscing. I’ve just been invited to the 25th anniversary of an army course I completed, well, 25 years ago. It was a defining time for me, the course a venturi for all of us ambitious officers wanting to make our mark. The event is next summer (the military are always prepared) and I will attend. But it sparked a reflective couple of hours. Our life moved away from the Army 15 years ago when I left. It was a fabulous time and we had fun reminding ourselves what it was like. But, with 8 years as teacher and a houseparent next, and then 4 years of vagrancy, we still have no regrets. But it was fun to reminisce.

Books? Well, I’ve still done nothing about anything. I’m v clear (and v excited) about the plot for book 5 and do need to start writing. And sales continue to potter. The last three days have been 6, 4 and 2 books sold in that order. I’m still waiting for a couple of marketing opportunities to come my way, and I really should get on with being more systematic about the marketing – but, do you know what? I’m struggling to sell myself. I really am. So let me share this review with you (if you don’t mind – and I have no idea who the reviewer, CAC is; does anyone?):

5.0 out of 5 starsSo good I’ve read it twice.

10 August 2018

Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

A thumping plot with many a twist and turn that draws the reader at a breathtaking pace down all manner of unlit trails to even less expected destinations.

Would the principle character, Sam Green be easy company? I doubt it. Does she tantalise and beguile – absolutely – which way will she turn next? A contradictory and Gordian character; on the one hand resolute and professionally skilled, on the other hand grappling the demons that threaten to overwhelm her. She’s crying out for help which so richly deserves, something I sense Mr Ladley won’t countenance in the near future.

I’ve read all of Ladley’s books, they get better and better. In terms of narrative quality his style has moved from that of an amateur athlete to one who is fighting hard for a place in the Olympic team, the style is tight and deeply readable

For those delight in good thrillers ‘For Good Men to do Nothing’ is great read which I strongly recommend

If you feel anywhere close to the same way, please tell your friends. All of them. Go on. Or stick something on Facebook, or Instagram. Or, at least, please pen a review on Amazon and Goodreads.

Something will happen. It will. I’m sure of it. It may just happen a bit quicker if you lot spread the word …

Have a good Sunday.


A bit odd…

It’s been a funny couple of days for me. For a start I haven’t found the energy to think much about the books, other than to follow the sales. I started thinking about a Facebook Ad, but gave up. And I had a blank page with the work Plot on the top of it, but couldn’t manage much. It’s been hot, we’ve kept up our running every two days (on Monday I ended up running with a French guy on the beach at quite a lick – his choice, not mine. He was 59! Great fun.) and we have done some walking. But in terms of actually getting on with anything, it’s a null pointer.


Seine – big River, big boats

After Wissant we stayed at the mouth of the Somme, on a small spit of land overlooking the estuary. Last night we had a lovely, albeit thundery, night down the Seine some. It’s a big river and navigable with huge, ocean-going boats, which kept me entertained for a while. We’ve watched the European Championships (well done Dina Asher-Smith – brill), and generally pottered about. And tonight we are high on a bluff at the Gold Beach memorial, with super views over the Mulberry Harbours. It’s all good.


Mulberry harbour

But it’s still been odd. I’ve struggle to find energy, except when I’m running, and that’s unlike me.

That may have changed. I shall tell you something spooky. First, this morning, I found out that I’d sold a couple of books in the US overnight where that market has been quiet (I’m still selling 2/3 books a day in the UK). Then Doris gave up on us. She started first thing, then second thing after we filled up with water at the service point, and then did that multiple-click thing where the battery fails to turn over the starter motor. Then nothing. Then the analogue dials on the dash started jumping, as if they had been taken over by a poltergeist. I disconnected the battery – and still the analogue dials had a fit.

Mmmmm. I reconnected the battery and all was well. And all has been well, all day.


at the mouth of the Somme

Except. The long-arm hang-down electric wing mirrors have been broken since we started the hols. They’re there. You know, all look at me – and don’t forget that things are closer than they appear. But the electric motors don’t work for some reason. I’ve had things apart, looked on forums, changed fuses and downloaded the v complex wiring diagram. Nothing. Oh well.

Then, today, as we drove over Pegasus bridge, I tried the switch again as the mirror was in the wrong place by a smudge. Hey presto! They’re working again. And they still are. How does that work?

Well, I’m not sure. I’m putting the ‘Doris not starting’ down to a huge deluge of water that fell out of the sky and down the front windscreen last night. Moving her about probably dislodged some wet stuff onto the coil and/or starter motor and shorted her until the leccy had burnt off the water. The wing mirrors?

Do you believe in ghosts?



I just want to write. That’s all. I know, nothing’s stopping me. You’re not stopping me. In fact, after the v kind reviews and latest comments, you’re pretty much imploring me get on with it. I have just had a really useful session with my pal Richard. He’s still ‘connected’, and I am much closer to pulling together a fabulous plot for book 5. It’s not Christianity v Islam and there’s going to be much more Sam’s ‘analysis’ in it – and it will be darker, and longer. It all looks good. And I just want to get on and write it.


on the beach at Wissant

But it’s not as simple as that…

You see For Good Men To Do Nothing, indeed all four books, sales have all slowed down to a trickle. And I do need to generate some wider interest. That requires research and a good deal of my attention. But I don’t want to do that. It’s boring and dull. I want to write. To be creative. To bring this complex, exciting plot to life. And I know there are a couple of hundred of you (which is probably, realistically, increasing by about 10 a month) who couldn’t care less about anyone else and want me to just get on with it. But I do need to generate some income. And, knowing what I know, you can’t leave that to chance. Which is a shame.

Mmmm. Conflict.

[I. Just. Want. To. Write.]


Anyhow, today is a day off. Day one of a 3.5 week trip to northern France. So I’m going to write the blog and start to put a book 5 timeline together. I’ll focus on marketing tomorrow.

For the record, Bex and Steven have made it to Seoul after we got them to the airport on Thursday at oh-what-the-hell o’clock. Their apartment (paid for by the school) looks fab – and we know this via WhatsApp. An interesting fact: it took them months to get half-decent home-WiFi in The Bahamas. It took less than 12 hours to activate it in Korea. They look in good form, which is great.

Mum and Dad are in a state. Dad can no longer feed himself in a recognisable way. It’s all incredibly distressing. Thankfully the 2 x one hour a day carers are doing a good job and will continue to provide a barometer for us as things inevitably go downhill.

And Richard and Caroline looked after us royally (thank you). We stayed two days rather than the planned one because the Friday night ferry was ridiculously expensive. The P&O website was saying £999 for a single crossing on Saturday morning. Not sure that’s for us. So we crossed last night (return for £220 using #DirectFerries) and stayed in Wissant, just down the road from Calais in an Aire. We woke late and decided to stay as the weather was good and the beach just down the road. We are currently switched off doing not a great deal and we start our assault on northern France tomorrow. Which is when I intend to look at some marketing opportunities. Hurrah!


Have a great week.

Comments on a postcard please


Taken from the pub just up from where we parked Doris whilst at Penkridge

Perhaps you can help me? I’m starting to piece together the plot for book 5. Of course if you’ve not read For Good Men To Do Nothing, or indeed none of the Sam Green series, then you’re not going to be much help. Hang on – why haven’t you read any of the series? Have you not heard how good they are? Come on. Get with the programme.

Deep breath. OK. So I have a problem. The first 4 books work on a Christian versus Islam slant. There’s the ultra right-wing Christian sect, The Church of the White Cross, inflaming anti-Muslim hatred, building up to a crusade-type war. The books are all anti-religion, insofar as religion causing war and men making that happen. One inside-front cover quote sums this up:

Morality is doing right, no matter what you are told. Religion is doing what you are told, no matter what is right.

The outcome of this underlying theme is that the ‘terror’ is all enacted by the Christian right or the Islamic left. It’s all very current, but after four books, a bit samey. It would be the easiest thing in the world to knock up another conspiracy which centres around Muslim extremists and a Christian sect. On one side, suicide bombers and Middle Eastern types which bulging eyes. On the other, cool, blond Ayrian zealots, all calculating and ruthless. But … a bit samey?

So, I have come up with a plot centred on a nasty antagonist who’s not driven by religion (no spoilers). But there’s got to be some terror and I don’t want this to be centred on religious-based angst. And that’s where I need help. Currently I’m working on a series of coincident terror plots which are put in place by a number of different terrorist organisations. I know what’s linking them (the nasty antagonist), but will that work? And should book 5 be terror related? Is this what the public wants?

Any thoughts? I have 3 weeks in France where I want to tie this down, so any comment would be helpful.


The view…

We’re in Penkridge seeing Bex and Steve before they fly out to Seoul (tomorrow). It’s another early start and then we’re going to Mum and Dad’s – just for a night. And then 3 weeks of holiday. Phew. Neither of us can wait. It’s been a tough 7 months. As well work, we’ve painted and sorted the house (less hall, stairs and landing). Done the garden including a new patio. Published a book. And between all this travelled a lot seeing all sorts of people. Since I finished at work it’s been head down, helping sort out Bex and Steven as well as supporting Jen and her business. Hence a holiday would be nice. We have a slack handful of DVDs, a couple of books each … and I have a plot to thicken! Hurrah!

Anyhow. Off out to supper for a last farewell this evening. Up at 4 tomorrow – and then downhill all the way to Dover. Hopefully with the wind behind us. Hurrah!


This weather sucks…

This weather sucks. I mean. Come on: British summer = rain and wind. I had to put a fleece on yesterday. And this morning we were thinking of walking over the way to the local car boot, but apart from a few hardy souls with wet tat, windly distributed all over the field, it’s not going to be worth the effort. Typical. Anyhow, I’m going to be too busy lavishing myself with after sun to find time for anything else. I don’t want to peel before I get my cossy on in France next week.

Notwithstanding the turn in the weather, it’s been a couple of days of decompression. We saw Bex off to the airport (again) on Thursday so she could fly up to Scotland for a friend’s wedding. Steven, who has been in Prague with his best man, flew into Edinburgh to meet her. They’re catching the train tonight, are in London to pick up their Korean visas, and are meeting us in Penkridge tomorrow. We have a couple of days with them before they fly out for their new adventure in Seoul and then we’re off on the continent for 3.5 weeks, via Mum and Dad’s and R&C’s for a sleep over. All of the latter in Doris. She has been packed, spruced and is ready to go! How exciting is that?

Books are selling. Not at a rapid rate, but enough to see me over. Yesterday three copies of For Good Men To Do Nothing and one of The Innocence of Trust flew off the shelves. I have three marketing prospects running, more of which later, and a fourth ‘big idea’ which may start to kick in in the middle of next month. And I still have this director friend of a friend who has Unsuspecting Hero’s screenplay in her mitts. The law of averages means that nothing will come of it – but you have to press on. I have also put For Good Men To Do Nothing into Amazon’s UK Storyteller 2018 competition. It’s for self-published books put out there in the first half of 2018. I think there’s some crowd-funding algorithm that helps the judges complete a shortlist, so if you haven’t bought a copy yet – or, if you’ve finished the book and not written a review – then please, please do. Reviews are the life-blood of self-published authors. So take a few minutes today and pen something. Please. And, for the record, I’ve still not spent any cash marketing the series.


One of six 5-star reviews on Amazon for FGMTDN. I hope you don’t mind me sharing it with you. And please pen a review…

I have already updated FGMTDN‘s  script once. There were a couple of typesetting issues that have popped up in the Kindle version and I had to put those straight. Which leads me onto typesetting. It’s a nightmare. The problem is embedded formatting transferring between GoogleDocs (where I currently write the original) and Word, where I do the editing. Things happen in the e-subtext of the scirpt which means that when you publish, which inacts a further layer of formatting, things can go crazy. And at the end of a long journey, it’s a struggle. Never mind, I do get paid famously for my troubles… (please write a review!).


still running…

Well that’s me. I could finish with a few words about His Donaldness blatantly lying to the American public about how the latest quarter of US growth broke 4%, something Obama never achieved. Actually during the 16 quarters of Obama’s presidency US growth broke 4% five times. And, Your Orangeness, according to the experts, yours has only popped up this time as overseas companies buy US goods to beat the imposition of tariffs. It won’t last.

We bring our children up not to lie. And as a schoolteacher, and C an ex-housemistress, we are unforgiving on kids who don’t tell the truth. And yet, here we are at the front edge of a bright new dawn where mankind is making real progress in health, energy, science, engineering and cycling (well done Geraint Thomas), we have the so-called leader of the free world lying consistently and openly for his own gains.

Sorry, America. But no matter what your politics are, you really shouldn’t condone that.

Am mechanic

I am a free man. I suppose you could call me a retiree – again. But it’s not like that. Writing, leadership mentoring and Jen’s business are all things I am working on. But, and it’s a huge but (and I am so lucky to have this opportunity), any agenda is my own. I can do as much or as little as I like. And money can’t pay for that. Fabulous. Just Fabulous.


Bradley Stoke shopping centre. Looking fab.

I could use today’s ramblings to talk about the US trade war that His Trumpkiness has randomly put in place. The fact that the US are having to find $12bn to subsidise their farmers (mostly soya bean) due to lose of revenue, has rather dented the ‘trade wars are good’, mantra. Since the US placed tariffs on all of their allies [to be fair the tariffs are also slapped on China and Russia (sorry, I forgot, the State that has invaded Ukraine, shot down an international airliner, messed in everyone’s elections and killed one of theirs with nerve agent on our soil, is in fact now a friend of the US’s)], US farmers are struggling to sell their stuff abroad. Did Donald not see that coming? And now that steel is now 25% more expensive for US companies, which may be good news for a few thousand steel workers in the Rust Belt, but not so good for the tens of thousands of US workers who make stuff out of steel (and aluminium), anything made of metal is becoming more expensive. Everything. No worries. Ordinary US folk had a massive tax cut in the recent Trump tax give-away, so they can afford to pay more for their washing machines.

US history has a liturgy of examples of how tariffs don’t work. How free trade is the only way. And that your own workforce has to adapt to the market, even if that means closing down unprofitable businesses. But, it seems, that the current administration knows better. I might be wrong, but this going to end in tears.

I am, by the way, a mechanic. Really. Recently I have fixed three things. First the habitation door on Doris which has both ‘stuck’ and locked itself when you shut it with too much force. I have tried to fix it before, but never really got it right. Anyhow, I’ve done it now, including losing a key piece without which the whole thing was useless, to finding the piece by complete chance just before I was about to run out into the traffic with my eyes closed. Done.


Bex and I took a trip to London to sort out her Korean visa

Then I fixed the Ford Focus’s bonnet release catch. Ford, for some reason known only to them, put the bonnet release under the grille badge – using the key. The problem is the key/lock joins the release mechanism by way of hard wire – which breaks (actually the plastic bit at the end of the wire breaks), making the bonnet impossible to open.

It’s a common problem (thanks Ford). So, as with any would-be mechanic, I looked on YouTube and was briefed by the most boring man in Europe on what I should do, which included sticking my head under the front of the car and, with long arms, getting my hand between the radiator and the engine block and undoing some bolts. I have very long arms. And I just about made it, although my forearm looks like it’s been attacked by a bear. How short or large people can reach the bolts is a mystery to me. But obviously not to the dull man on YouTube.


we took a trip to Birmingham to pick up some furniture we had left in one of Bex’s friend’s house

Finally I have fixed a leak on Doris’s air suspension, which has been like that since we bought her. I have tried many time to sort it, but eventually managed it by tightening an almost impossible to reach nut under one of the rear wheels. Now both air suspension bellows stay up, and Doris’s back end no longer looks like it’s had a stroke.

I think that’s enough for me. Books doing well. Still decompressing from school. And spending all my time ferrying (our) children about the place at ungodly hours.

Oh well…


[For those of you from Twitter looking for the Sam Green short story, please scroll down.]

For the rest of you…

… it’s all been a bit of a rush, like my bum’s on fire and I can’t find a puddle to sit in. But … we’re hoping that any time soon it’s all going to settle down a bit and we can refocus on the everyday. Like Ikea.

First, school. I have half a day left on Tuesday. I survived the end of the week without major breakdown and unless one of the sweeties brings a bomb to the class on Tuesday, then I think I’m going to make it out the other end with my sanity intact. It has been a close run thing, and I guess in a couple of weeks I’ll give you all a resume of life as an ageing school teacher. It won’t be pretty, but, having been given a lovely handmade-card from two Yr 9 girls, the front of which says, ‘We will miss you’ (and there are an assortment of lovely notes inside), there are bits of it I will cherish. But, importantly, sanity frayed but in one piece. Tick.

The whole family got together on Friday night in Gloucester. It was lovely to see them all, and C and I marvelled that whilst none of us are completely ‘all there’, we do make a great team. Both of our sons-in-law are the perfect foil for our daughters and both couples are making a much better fist of early marriage than we did. Well done them. Bex and Steven fly to Seoul next Thursday, and we are seeing a lot of them between now and then. And Jen’s business continues to flourish: £200 worth of e-orders on Friday. We attended a fayre (actually it was more of a v small fun day) at a village close to Gloucester yesterday. I had made a display trunk, C loads of bandannas, and Jen a good many leads and collars. It looked fab. And the weather was kind – when is it not at the moment? But she only sold one collar, which paid for the pitch. To be fair there were only a few people there and she did hand out some cards. So, no great sales rush, but at least we have a system.


I remain unsure of how my part in her business will look over the coming months. I’m going to have to balance it against book stuff, and my leadership mentoring. Whatever – it will keep me occupied. Which will be a good thing.


Books? Well, I’ve sold 75 copies of For Good Men To Do Nothing, and have three 5-star reviews on Amazon already. Indirectly I also received two comments from pals: ‘bloody loved it’ … ‘pretty amazing piece of writing’, both of whom I know will post reviews. What I love about the second comment, which is written by my brother who I know does not hold his punches, is that he didn’t say ‘that’s a great story’, or, ‘loved Sam’. But he actually commented on the way it was written. My writing. Pretty amazing? Fab. I will hurry along all of the reviews from people I know over the next 10 days or so. And all of this gives me a good feeling.

On Goodreads I am at 98 reviews for Fuelling the Fire, with an average score of 4.20/5.0. I think, in comparison to nearly everyone else with a big chunk of reviews, that’s good going. I still believe The Innocence of Trust is a fabulously complex book (25 ratings on Goodreads, with an average of 4.64/5.0) and I am very proud of Unsuspecting Hero (58 ratings; 4.19/5.0). Goodreads is the world’s readers’ forum and they’re not shy from telling you that your stuff is rubbish.

So what? I have to keep going at this. I have to believe that one day someone with a big voice in the literary business will pick up one of my books and think, you know what, this is a good series. It’s different. Sam Green is a lovable character with whom everyone empathises. We should let everyone know about this. And then order a plateful of minions to make it so.

That’s me sewn up until I’m unable to think/type then. Certainly I’m v excited by book 5, which is going to be dark, brooding and ever-so slightly off the wall. Stand-by!

I have numerous articles in for possible publication and, via a good friend, I have a second director reading Unsuspecting Hero’s screenplay. The initial comment from the director was that she was ‘liking it’. We shall see.

That’s it from me. Bex and I have a day in London tomorrow. She’s going to get her Korean visa. Then one final morning at school … uh, yippee?!

[And thanks for all your comments on the short story. I’ll let you know if it makes publication any where.]