Up and down

preview (2)

Allow me talk about self-confidence.

The army teaches you to have bags of it. Because, without it it’s v difficult to get groups of people to do things they’d really rather not do. I went to Sandhurst at 18. Twenty-five years later I left with the confidence of 10 men.

Teaching next. Confidence is key here as well. If you haven’t stood up in front of 25 barely pubescent 15 year-olds (with more hormones than a back-street Chinese hormone shop), and, again, tried to get them to do things they really don’t want to do – then you’re lucky. I salute teachers everywhere. Before I became one, I thought being a teacher was the easiest job in the world. Eh, no. I found leading – which is what teachers do, day-in, day-out – classes of kids much more tricky than taking a battalion of soldiers on operations..

Did that for 8 years. Tick.

Now I work for myself. I am, principally, an author. I write books for – well, I can’t really call it a living. 5,000 books in three years is hardly a living. But it’s what I do (as well as marketing books – which is taking up more and more of my time). #SamGreen is #1. Twitter (I like Twitter); Facebook; Instagram; this blog. It all helps. Hurrah!

But do I do it with confidence? Am I ‘up’ all the time? Is morale ‘green’; optimism ‘high’?

Well, not really. I have very good days when what I have written seems like the best thing out there. When I sell 15 books (as I have today – already). When I get a grown-up review from someone I’ve never heard of – and it’s genuinely fab. But just as quickly – and precipitously, I feel rubbish. That I’m writing for an audience of 17 people – most of them my friends who would read my rubbish anyway and politely say they like it. When I get a poor review; or I’ve sold no books by lunchtime. That, thankfully, isn’t just now. But it might be this time tomorrow.

Instagram 1 (2)

indeed she is!

Up and down. Down and up. I’ve never experienced anything like it.

What does this mean? Well, I applaud anyone in the arts trying to make a living. I applaud our friend Deborah Blyth who makes her own (very smart) jewellery and has a growing business that needs a big break. Our daughter Jen who has just banked with Mum and Dad for quite a lot of money, in order to buy an embroidery machine and sewing machine so she can sell her fabulous dog bandannas and collars – link here: Cubbly’s . I applaud my niece, Grace, trying to make it as an actor at the tender age of 18. And all the painters, sculptors, actors, writers, weavers, crafts people – indeed, anyone who is trying to make something with their hands, their bodies and/or their keyboards – and then living off the proceeds.

And my advice – not that I’m in a position to give advice to so many talented people: keep at it. Do what you love. Work harder. Persevere. Have faith. Work a bit harder. Still keep at it. Something good will happen.

BTW – all’s well in The Bahamas! And book 4 going splendidly. 54/120k words done and I now have the obligatory mindmap to get me to a conclusion. Sam Green is alive and well (and, having spent 2 days here, is now in Miami.

IMG_20170926_153753583

 

$400? You’ve got to be kidding?

I have a couple of things to report. Both of them good, despite the title.

First, after two days of pottering about, we went on a boat trip. A $400 boat trip. For those of you unsure of the exchange rate, that’s about £300 – or the price of a decent road bike. Or Doris’s insurance renewal. You’re getting the picture?

P1650062

quicker than it looks

Our Jen, who with James, visited B&S earlier in the year, went on this day-long boat trip from Nassau out to one of the cays that make up The Bahamas. It’s $200 each and worth every cent – so she told us. To add treacle to the tart, both Bex and Jen said they would pay for C as it was a senior birthday this year. Bless them.

Even so, $400?

Well I have to say that $400 was cheap. What a day. Let me explain. 24 of us, including two loud, elderly Trump supporters, got on a fibreglass rocketship, which was fitted with four Yamaha 250hp outboards (that’s 1,000hp, the same as a Bugatti Veron). Then, across a sea which was like glass, we spent an hour speeding at 40 mph – that’s unecessarily quick -making our way towards West Africa. I could smell the fuel being burnt. Fabulous.

On a small beach the captain – we had four ushers and they were all great – just ran the boat aground on the sand. We were then given large cocktail sticks and handfuls of grapes (that must have cost $100, knowing Bahamian prices) and let lose on feeding a bunch of iguanas. Iguanas are like small dragons, but more scary. They have teeth and are blind, so can easily mistake a big toe for a grape. This was the first of our brushes with nature’s predators. Brill.

P1650079

I must check my toes

We then drove (at a million miles an hour) to another beach which had a couple of shacks on it. This would be our home for the next 5 hours. Food was provided; sandwiches and dips on arrival and a lovely fish and beef BBQ for lunch. And all the drink was free. Pretty much anything. As many times as you like, which I think is brave of them as, with some of the team quickly under the weather, we were about to swim with sharks.

First we fed the stingrays. Was this the best experience of my life? Close to it. Before we were given strips of fish for the rays to suck off our upturned hands, they swum among us. Between us. Bashing into our legs. Letting us stroke them. They can and do sting, but only if you really piss them off. Which we tried very hard not to.

P1650097

fabulous

Then the sharks. We’re talking human sized sharks (more C sized than me, to be fair). The staff fed them with dead fish on pieces on nylon rope. We all stood in the water as the sharks were hauled towards us and lifted out of the water. They chomped through the thick nylon rope – three times. Which made the snorkelling bit of the day which followed, extra interesting. The sharks had been fed, but they hadn’t gone anywhere. So as we snorkelled out to the rip tide, the sharks (sort of, but not on purpose) swam among us. One came within a couple of feet of my face. One swam below C. The guys shooed them away with the safety boat, but by then we’d already had our close encounter of the shark kind.  Then we swam down the rip tide like the turtles in Finding Nemo. I saw a turtle! It was another great experience.

P1650107

our home for 5 hours

Lunch, then more drink (our v loud Trump supporters had stopped being quite so Texan at that point, because they were struggling to string a couple of words together) and time to relax as the chef knocked up a conch salad. Mmmm, not my idea of a fun dish.

And then back on the rocket ship and home for tea and medals! Hurrah. So, my advice. If you come to the Bahamas – bring an extra $400 with you and go on #powerboatadventures. Fab.

P1650105

A quick update on book stuff. Loving book 4 (Money for Something?), now 42/120k words in and having no problem with 1,500 words a day. And Amazon UK have at last started marketing Fuelling the Fire. Have a guess what? As a result the books are selling. Hurrah!

Screenshot 2017-09-20 at 17.59.18 - Edited

hurrah!

All-in-all, a couple of very good days.

How I became a reasonably unsuccessful novelist…

Article Title block - EditedIf you’re interested in my latest article see the tab on the top – or click on this link: How I became a reasonably unsuccessful novelist. And then go and make yourself a cup of coffee…

Let me know what you think!

Into the eye of the storm…

We made it. Into the eye of the storm. And that’s mostly thanks to Rebecca. If she hadn’t phoned us in NY on Wednesday night, telling us that Nassau was closing its airport late Thursday, we would have been oblivious to it all and arrived at JFK on Friday with no wings to take us to The Bahamas. After some tooing and froing with Delta, we brought our itinerary forward by a day, boarded a 220-seat 777 with only 7 other passengers and enjoyed the most luxurious 3-hour flight we ever have had the pleasure of taking.

IMG-20170908-WA0001

So, we’re here. What’s it like (other than very windy at the moment)? It’s a second-world country inhabited by a whole load of first-world people. There’s money aplenty – hotel rooms are expensive to extortionate. Basic provisions – for everyone – are 2/3 times what you’d pay in the UK. But there’s also a lot of poverty, swathes of uneducated people and more gun crime (I heard that there’s already been 90 murders this year) than is comfortable. Although, it seems that they leave tourists well alone and much of the heavy crime is gang related – however, Bex and Steven have moved into a gated community after they were robbed of everything last year.

And Irma? We were expecting very high winds, lots of rain and a tide surge that would sink the bottom floor of B&S’s house.

Our first job on Friday was to sandbag the front and rear doors, and then help B&S take anything precious up a floor. In the end, the preparation was unnecessary. Yes it has been (and still is) windy, but the tide-surge didn’t breach the seawall and we have remained high and dry. It’s worth noting that Bahamian properties are mostly built to withstand hurricanes. Those on the less prestigious islands, and most of Florida, are not. We’ll see how that pans out.IMG_20170909_085420_764

IMG_20170910_073602_599

C and Bex as the storm thrashed about

So, all’s well here. I’ve not much more to add, save I’ve finished my article entitled ‘How I became a reasonably unsuccessful author.’ I will put that up later in the week. And I’ve restarted Chapter 4 of book 4 (I must find a name). Marketing via FB, Instagram and Twitter continue.

I am a writing machine!

The big red button

I thought it best to bash this out before we all get embroiled in a nuclear war. That, of course, is a nice lead for me to say a few choice words about POTUS (I’m loving Twitter), but I shall refrain from doing so. Although, I can’t move on without mentioning one of his latest tweets where he berates South Korea – an ally, no less – for appeasing their loony neighbours. In the first line of the tweet he uses the clause ‘as I have told them’. Mmmm. I think if I were leader of the Free World (and had only been in the seat for a few rollercoaster months) I’d be tempted to drop stuff like that. It smacks of ‘me-ism’. Anyhow, he’s surrounded by US Marines now, so hopefully they’ll bring some order to where it’s due. I do worry, however, that they’re currently planning a beach invasion of Inchon, something they did quite well in 1950.  They’d better check their geography though. Inchon is in South Korea…

my latest marketing shot

We’re exhausted. Over the past three and a bit weeks we’ve driven to Berlin and back, then Bristol and then Devon to drop of Doris at the doctors. Then to Colchester and up to Skye. Back down to Devon to pick up Doris where Chelstons assure us that she’s watertight. Up to Gloucester where we have deposited Doris with P&K, and now to Godalming in Surrey as a launch pad for Heathrow. New York on Tuesday (thankfully not driving) and then, on Friday, onto The Bahamas where Hurricane Irma is due to land – on the same day. Thankfully we’re due to stay with Rebecca and Steven for four weeks, so a couple of day’s delay to avoid the second worst mid-Atlantic storm this year, won’t be such a challenge.

£35 from Maplins. All I need now is a decent reading voice.

As you can see, it’s all go.

As a result I have still not finished my article ‘How to become a not very successful novelist’. I hope to get it down before we board the plane on Tuesday. Over the next five weeks I’d like to get it published somewhere, complete another 5 chapters of book 4, and, hopefully, have recorded a podcast of Unsuspecting Hero – with the aim of making it available for free to anyone who can bear the sound of my voice. All of this whilst browning our knees and avoiding getting swept into the Atlantic by whichever tropical storm happens to be bashing against The Bahamas whilst we’re there. We’ll see.

Anyhow, I must go and finish ‘the shelter’. We’ve practised getting under the kitchen table in the crunch position (and closing our eyes) earlier today. Hopefully it won’t come to that. But knowing POTUS, anything to deflect from Congress not approving his tax reform bill – or the Russian enquiry using the big ‘I’ word (impeachment). Men, their egos and the big red button. I tell you …

 

The skye is leaking …

We came to Skye to look over the plans for Jen’s (our younger’s) wedding. She and James have decided that next March they want to get married up here – where the wind blows and the sky leaks. It is very romantic, and the place they have chosen for the (very small) wedding and reception is lovely. But it is a long way from absolutely anywhere and, I would argue, Gretna Green is just as romantic. And closer. We mustn’t grumble. Unlike our elder’s recent affair, at least we won’t have to spend three days in decorating mode – the venue pretty much does it all for us.

IMG_20170830_124216962_HDR

Bob, Cath et al enjoying Skye

PicsArt_08-29-06.17.20

Watching the CalMac ferry from Armadale

We love the northwest stretch of our green and pleasant land. Its greener. And much more pleasant up here. There’s a barrenness, almost bleakness which makes you want to buy a croft, put some logs on the fire, get out the typewriter and post a big sign on your front door: no visitors! That of course would be great for a couple of weeks and then you’d want to pop to the shops, or get fed up with being hypothermic. And then you’d be heading down south for some sunshine and retail therapy. I think. Living up here is, like most avenues C and I discuss, an option.

We’re staying at a lovely cottage that James’ mum and dad have rented (hello Bob and Cath!). They’re here for the week – we leave on Friday. It’s been great to get to know them better, but it has hardly helped me get close to finishing the article I’m writing – I think the title is going to be ‘How I became an unsuccessful novelist’. Or similar …

Finally, some of you might have noticed that I have tried to sharpen my Instagram posts. And I am also throwing some stuff out on Twitter. I am trying my best to build a social media presence. More of which later, when I find out whether or not it’s been worthwhile. Anyhow, I must dash. I think we’re out to supper…