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  • Writer's pictureMichael Parker

Looking back at the month of August and using my diary for pointers, I can see how busy I actually was, when I usually feel I sometimes just dribble my daily life away. Not so; I jotted down a list of pointers before starting this and ended up with sixteen bullet points without including my routine life of domesticity.

One of the major occurrences was a week with my friend, Pauline, and a visit from my grandson from the USA with his wife, but more about that later. One decision I made was to shelve the current Emma Carney Romance I’ve been writing. It was to be the fourth Romance of five I promised myself I would do this year using the Emma Carney pen name. But I soon came to the conclusion that I was simply writing a series of disconnected scenes that were supposed to lead to a well written and thoughtful Romance; not so, and as a consequence I came to the inevitable decision to shelve it despite being twelve thousand words into the story. Was I being brave or what? But there’s a twist: I started another. Brave or stupid?

For some reason, mainly due to outside influences, I decided to write a Romance set in Occupied France. In Paris actually. My heroine is a young French woman, Charlotte de la Cour. I decided to use some old fashioned research and have ordered a couple of books about the women who worked undercover with the French Resistance. One of the books arrived a couple of days ago. The other is due today. I have also registered with the British Newspaper Archives in the hope that I can add to my research. All this took my mind back to the days when my research consisted mainly of the local library and contacting other people and places for information. And although it’s of no consequence now, I met a distant family relative in 1961 who had been awarded a medal by the French for her work with the Resistance. If only I could time travel back to that meeting and get some first-hand information.

But, leaving my writing aside, let me tell you about other highlights of my month. I travelled up to Lincolnshire and brought our friend, Pauline, down here for a week. Pat and I first met Pauline and her husband, Brian, after we moved to Spain in 1997. Brian passed away shortly after my lovely Pat. While Pauline was here, my grandson, Sam, came over for a visit with his wife, Taryn. They stayed for a night and we enjoyed a meal and a pint of Guiness at our local watering hole. During that week, we went over to visit our son, John and his wife, Bryony, for a BBQ. It happened to be the third anniversary of Pat’s passing, so we raised a glass of English sparkling Nyetimber wine in her honour.

Another highlight was going to Chichester with our boy, Terry, to meet a Harrier jump jet enthusiast, Chris, who was collecting the signatures of as many Harrier pilots as he could for his collection of paintings and text books. As Terry had been a Harrier pilot, it made for a very interesting couple of hours talking about his career, the highs and the lows etc. And it was interesting to see some of the signatures that Chris had collected, even down to the late John Farley who was the Hawker Sidley test pilot who became known as Mister Harrier.

Want another highlight? Pauline showed me how to make batter. We bought some white fish and I cooked it (under supervision of course) for a fish and chip lunch. Another? I almost got caught in a WhatsApp scam for £4000. Fortunately it all fell apart before I parted with the money. But it left me feeling basically naked to realise that I could fall for a trick like that. I thanked God for looking out for me.

And there’s more: I actually flew an A380 Airbus simulator, courtesy of EasyJet and my son, Terry, who is a training captain there. EasyJet had a family day at their facility near Gatwick. Terry was given two, one hour slots, which meant one hour for his youngest boy, Freddie, and the other hour for me. Freddie flew it almost perfectly, but we won’t say too much about yours truly.

And I can’t leave my highlights there without mentioning the Lionesses World Cup performance. I watched and enjoyed them all. It was a pity we lost to Spain in the final, but as we all know; there can only be one winner. But the Girls won the love and respect of most football (and non-football) fans. Me certainly.

I’m growing tomatoes. Well, trying. Another of my brilliant ideas that will probably wither on the vine (if you’ll pardon the pun!). They might be ripe by Christmas if they haven’t rotted by then.

But back to my books. My best selling book, The Devil’s Trinity, is still selling, but the numbers are going down. Nothing else of mine is selling, but that’s because I’ve stopped advertising (wasting my money) and have no email subscribers anymore. I have to admit I’ve come to the end of trying to achieve a productive output of books and pile into promoting them; I never seem to make any headway anyway, although I have coughed up a substantial amount with another promoter to promote the book.

Going back to my change of direction with the Emma Carney Romances, I got quite excited and keen to start writing about Occupied Paris. So much so that I wrote the first 1500 words in one sitting without even having started my research. Needless to say I rewrote the sequence once I had some proper facts on which to relate. So far I’m about 3500 words in and seeing so many different ways this story can go. But unlike the real heroines who worked with the SOE and the OSS, my girl Charlotte is a figment of my imagination, and I have to be careful that I don’t wander into too many tales of derring-do, which could be something of a drag. And no, she won’t be able to save France; I can’t cram four years of German occupation into 80,000 words, but we’ll give them a good run for their money and rustle up a romance in the meantime.

Wish me luck!

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I’ve started this a little late; it’s a week into August already, but why worry? Fortunately for me, deadlines don’t matter because I’m not one of those writers who are plagued by having to finish a manuscript by a certain date. This year I promised to write five Emma Carney Romance novels, and have completed three, but boy, am I struggling with number 4. I have started the book and am about 15000 words in, but it’s pulling me into a different direction. So far I have only just hinted at a romance between two of the characters, one of whom has barely featured in the book. I’ve no doubt I will complete the book, but will it have any merit? We’ll see.

Looking back over the last month, I’ve done a lot in the garden, what with turning it into a low maintenance garden. I’ve managed to get through, probably, 70% of the project. I expect to have it finished by the end of the year, but for now it’s on hold because of my August plans. Another project, for want of a better word, was an advertising campaign on Amazon. Now I’ve admitted many times that I’m absolutely useless when it comes to promotion and marketing, and once again I have proved myself to be right. I launched six campaigns on Amazon for the whole of July for my three Emily Carney Romances. My daily budget for each campaign was $10 (no, there’s no way I could afford that, but I know Amazon). Having sold no books, I received my final invoice from them for just over $6.00. Makes you weep, eh? If I’d done that on Facebook, I have sold maybe one or two but would have been wiped out budget-wise to the tune of about $150. And the campaign would never have lasted the month.

It's obvious that I need a professional to do the job for me, but that needs careful thought. I often get emails for marketeers telling me they have a plan on which they can put my book in front of umpteen thousand readers on different social media platforms etc., etc. The wording of these emails is usually identical, which suggests they have all studied at the same on-line marketing school. I’ve tried them before and have even tried (‘Nuff said!’). But I received an email which was completely different in it’s approach and even invited questions by return to the author of the email. The Company is BeBookSharp. They explained their plans, how much and exactly what they do. I wrote back and asked several questions, all of which were answered within a couple of days. Now, I have a thriller, The Devil’s Trinity, which has been selling every month on Kobo through the aggregator, D2D. This book has averaged about six or seven every month. Not many you might say, but this had been going on for almost twelve months. I don’t advertise it at all. So I thought, why not? I then decided to go with BBS and opted for their middle plan (price around $525) to promote the book. The plan has started rolling but nothing is likely to happen for a few weeks now. I know that if this doesn’t come off, I’ll give up altogether.

I had a lady come round to my house to talk about writing a book a few weeks ago. She’d bought three of my books at our local ‘Fun Day’ here on the Estate. I had a table (sold 24 books). She asked about tuition. I told her I don’t teach writing but I would advise on how to turn a Word doc into a paperback and an eBook. It was interesting couple of hours listening to how she wanted to write a novel, probably a romance, and thought she might be able to use her own life story. She said she was reluctant to write an autobiography, so I suggested she hid herself in a fictional character as well as all the other protagonists in her life. Whether she’ll do it or not, only time will tell. I hope so.

The rest of my daily routines have been about domesticity and hobbies plus missing my lovely Pat every day. I’m slowly improving my piano playing skills. I will never achieve the competence I would like, but at least I can knock out a tune.

That’s it then. I have a busy August coming up, which I hope to tell you about next month. As for my book, The Devil’s Trinity, all I can say is: wish me luck!

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  • Writer's pictureMichael Parker

July 1st. 2023

June was quite an eventful month for me one way or another. I published my third Emma Carney Romance, Chapel Acre. I asked my usual jacket designer for a cover, but he couldn’t commit before August 1st., which meant at least a ten weeks wait before he could complete, so I went with my own, simple design. The reason for that was because of the promise I’d made to myself to complete five Emma Carney Romances by the end of the year. By publishing Chapel Acre (, it meant I was well ahead with my plan. Unfortunately, I have now hit a brick wall and can’t come up with a story for No.4. I think I’ve used up all my ideas, but I have six months to go yet, so we’ll see.

Having said all that about finding a decent idea for EC4, I have jotted down a few ideas and written about fifteen hundred words as a starter. I have to accept that I am a “Pantser”. I can’t plot for toffees; it just doesn’t work for me. I wish it did, but that isn’t how I write.

But there’s something else that I have done that may affect any chance I have of making a name for myself (I mean, Emma Carney) in the book world: I cancelled my Mail Chimp account. The reason for that was because I’d virtually lost all my subscribers, and trying to resurrect their interest, particularly as they had originally signed up for A&A and Thrillers etc, I don’t think they would have been that interested. To give you an idea, I’d gone from 1500 subs down to an open rate of about 0.1%, and each newsletter resulted in more unsubs than opens.

On June 19th. I travelled up to London for the Self-Publishing Live Show at the QE Hall on the South Bank. There was an informal meet up at the Mad Hatter pub that night. I went along and bumped into a young woman I’d met last year at the conference. We spent an hour chatting about our books, our lives and our plans. She told me I had enough lifetime experience to write advice and self-help books, or to put out monthly newsletters talking about the events in my life that might be of some help to anyone who was struggling with the kind of things I’d dealt with and managed to live through. I thought it would make me sound rather pompous if I considered myself some kind of life guru who could help people. I told her this, but she wouldn’t have it. I’ve given this some thought, although I don’t expect it to happen, but I have republished a small booklet titled What Happened After ( and will put that up on Social Media feeds (hopefully). It’s a 17000 word narrative on the two years following the death of my lovely Pat and covers my mental state, my ups, my downs, and eventually finding hope again in my writing.

The book conference was an eye-opener (as always). One presenter was Bella Andre, often referred to as the ‘Queen of Romance’. She has sold 10,000,000 books and hit the New York Times best seller list. Another intriguing presenter was Britt Andrews; another incredibly successful writer. Racheal Maclean was another. Three years ago she was at the book conference as an unknown writer. Last year she was a presenter having sold one million books in two years. She was a guest interviewee this year. One thing about these three women is the incredibly hard work they’ve all put into their craft, which has to be the secret behind their success. I applaud them all.

So, from the ‘Gor blimey to the ridiculous’. I followed up my presence at the book conference with a book stall of my own at the local ‘Fun Day’ on the green here on our Park Home Residential Estate. I sold twenty four books. Makes you smile, eh? I considered that a good day. I got to chat with people I didn’t know, some I recognised because they are Residents here. One chap came up to my book stall and tapped several of my books saying: “Got that, got that, got that…” He tapped about five books. He told me he’d bought on KDP and thought I was an excellent writer. Makes you think, eh?

On the domestic front, I’ve had my Park Home clad with insulation. It’s a government scheme for people on low incomes who live in Park Homes to help reduce their energy costs and reduce the carbon footprint. It cost me nothing, so I will say thank you to the British taxpayer; such a generous bunch. I’ve continued my project of turning my garden into a low maintenance garden. I’m slowly clearing my borders and putting weed mats and tree bark down. The idea is to rely on pots of flowers and reduce the amount of time I spend weeding (and breaking my back!)

For the coming month, July, it should be situation normal: housework, gardening, writing, playing the piano badly and walking the dog. Oh, and some promotional work. Wish me luck!

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