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  • Writer's pictureMichael Parker

The dictionary definiton of the word 'Accident' is 'An unplanned interruption to a planned sequence of events'. And that is how I would be tempted to describe the last ten days or so of my carfefully disorganised and impractical way of being a writer. I will explain. My laptop went belly-up on me; I could only use it with the mains plugged in. I bought a new battery and fitted it, but no change, so it was off to PC World and the purchase of a new Laptop. I had to wait three days for the store to set it up, which meant not even being able to limp along with my old one. It was like losing an arm. I do have a desktop in the back room, which I rarely use, but none of my work is updated on it, which renders it impractical. Once I had my new one to hand, things became frustratingly difficult because most of my saved bookmarks (which I copied from my old laptop), were not recognised by my new one. To cut a long story short; it has taken several emails to 'Support@whichever website is not working' and putting up with the frustration of going round in circles. BUT! I am just about there, which is why I'm posting this short update. Oh, and I can only access the Wix.com link by using an ingocnito browers. Rich, ain't it?

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  • Writer's pictureMichael Parker

 

A month gone already and at times I think I have packed a million things into those four weeks, but I’m a writer so I lie. Not really, but my imagination does sometimes run away with itself. Once again, as I look through my diary, it’s mostly domestic chores, gardening and walking the dog on repeat. But I did manage to achieve some significant days that I will always remember with a mixture of warmth and, well…hmm!


I have managed to bring my fourth, Emma Carney Romance novel up to almost 40,000 words, but still have a long way to go. The working title is Dare to Dream but is more like a soap opera without all the drugs, sex and violence. By the way, I can’t remember the last time I watched a soap, but it was in black and white and most of the action seemed to take place in the snug at the local pub! The reason I say it is more like a Soap, is because I downloaded four, Jill Mansell books from KDP because I wanted to see how a successful, Sunday Times best selling author crafts her work. I read two of the books and half read the others. That was because I was beginning to see that she basically spins out a soap story with lots of colourful characters and at least two love triangles. Good writer as well.


The main event, in a way, for me was my six day break in Yorkshire at a Writers’ Retreat in Beal, North Yorkshire. There were six of us plus a ‘Writer in Residence’. The Retreat was an old pub but had been completely refurbished and opened up as a Private Function Centre for Retreats, birthdays, weddings etc. It was a lovely place too. Because of my age and longevity in the world of books (first published in 1978), it was no real surprise to me to find that I had more books published than the rest of them, including the Writer in Residence, put together. They were an engaging bunch, but writers in the purest sense of the word where they were not all desperate to get their work published on Amazon. I told them I was Antediluvian and had cut my teeth in the old fashioned school of writing — no internet, no Google, no free self-publishing. All research had to be done at the local library, face to face interviews or anywhere else you could find some worthwhile research. When I told them that I watched a podcast of an American author who writes and publishes five full length novels a month, they were all visibly shaken. But that’s the two extreme ends of the writing world.


I visited York while I was there. Walked through The Shambles, wandered round York Minster and also visited the Jork (sic) Viking Museum. It was hot, but worth the effort. And if I did have a bucket list, which I don’t, then York Minster would have been on it.

But back to the Retreat and I have to say that my five days was spoiled by my very poor hearing. Even with the most expensive hearing aids in the world, I have trouble engaging in conversation when I’m in a group. Consequently I was left dumb each time we were together, either at the dinner table or a group meeting in the lounge, so that I had very little to offer until I was asked to say something. But it is what it is and I can’t do anything about it. I’m okay with face to face talk, and there were times when I was able to chat with each of the group that way. It helped too. It made me realise that breaks like that are pointless for me, so I will have to be careful about what and how I choose in future. I’m going to the Turkey and Tinsel in November with Graham’s bunch but should be able to manage that (I did last year!).


And finally to my other significant event last month and that was the Mill Farm Fun Day. I set up my book stall at the far end under a Gazebo. I was on my own most of the day, although I did have Tuppence at my feet. I sold quite a few books; not sure how many, but it isn’t about making money; it’s more about being part of the community and getting to talk to people who I may never have encountered. My granddaughter turned up at half one in the afternoon with her two sons, Orin and Liri, and her partner, Max. They put Tuppence in the dog show for me, but we failed to win even the smallest rosette. By the end of the day I was completely knackered. And at my age that’s not a good idea. I probably won’t do one next year because of the amount of preparation etc., that’s involved, although if I’m here, I’ll make sure I come to the event and bring Tuppence all poshed up so she stands a chance of winning something in the dog show. It doesn’t faze her one bit when she loses! Pretty cool girl.


I’m still selling books each day, only a trickle, but you never know; it could become a flood. Now there’s a thought. Hope you all have a good month and enjoy good health. I still have mine and hope to continue so. Until next month then. Wish me luck!

 

 

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  • Writer's pictureMichael Parker

June blog post

 

 

Yes, I know; I’m slipping. No blog post for a couple of months, mea culpa; I think I’m on a downward spiral intellectually. Or just giving up. Looking back through my diary over the last couple of months, I seem to have been ill for most of it. Nothing I could put my finger on. I thought I might be suffering from Long Covid, because that was getting mentioned a lot in the Press. Then I went downhill and ended up seeing a nurse who prescribed antibiotics because of my chest condition. The setback didn’t help because I had a Covid jab too. But by the end of April I was more or less back to normal (my kind of normal).

 

A lot of my diary entries are like a video game on repeat: gardening, washing, ironing, hoovering, dog walking and church, interspersed with interesting things from time to time, just to make life bearable. So let’s see what I managed to get up to over the last seven or eight weeks.

 

I played around with Amazon ads, putting two books up to compete against each other. Roselli’s Gold at 0.99 pence, and The Devil’s Trinity at 2.99. RG sells every day, while TDT sells about four or five a month. The ads have finished now, but both books are trickling along at about the same rate.

 

I started Bryan Cohen’s Amazon Ads Challenge School to complete his five day challenge. I’ve done this before — it never worked for me then and it didn’t work this time either. But that was because the challenge involved a great deal of time and effort; something I knew I couldn’t commit to, which is why I bailed out on Day 4. I think I was ready to go by Day 3 anyway!

 

I went to the funeral of a neighbour whose husband died after a long, long time of pain and suffering. The lady was nursing him when Pat and I moved on to the Park Home sight almost ten years ago. The day after the funeral, I dropped a book of mine through her letter box. It’s called What Happened After and is an account of the two years following my lovely Pat’s death in 2020. I wasn’t sure if it was the right thing to do, but she told me that once she was alone in the house and everyone had gone (that’s a depressing time), she sat down with a glass of wine and read through the book. It only took her about forty minutes. She thanked me and said it was nice to read what my experience was like. I wrote the book for my family; it was never intended to be a guide to overcoming the loss of a loved one, something I did explain to my neighbour.

 

My Pastor, Simon, visited me. He usually pops in about every ten weeks. I know I see him at church, but he believes that his ministry isn’t just about preaching sermons, but reaching out to parishioners of his who are alone or unwell. We always manage to have a great chat. He’s younger than my four sons, a family man and a keen astronomer.

 

And, here’s the thing — I downloaded a Jill Mansell Romance: something I never thought I would do because she doesn’t write the kind of books I like. But for a while now I have had the itch about writing another Emma Carney Romance even though I was writing Shadow Over Paris, my WW2 story about life in Paris in 1940. I’d actually reached something like 40,000 words before I finally consigned it to the backburner so I could get the Emma Carney book out of my system. I have now downloaded four Jill Mansell books so I could get a feel of the way a best selling Romance author builds an inoffensive (most important) love story. Having penned three Emma Carney Romances, I felt unable to come up with any new ideas for a love story. The only thing I can say about Jill Mansell’s well written books, is that are really soap operas (I finished two, and half read the other two) . And it works, obviously, because she has thousands of 4 or 5 star reviews and is an acknowledged Sunday Times best selling author. The upshot of that is that I have worked my way into a kind of saga that starts fifteen years before the main story, and involves a bunch of eighteen year old students at their ‘Prom’ night, and what follows fifteen years later. (Where were you fifteen years after you left school? Still with the same boy or girl you thought you was in love with?)

 

Moving back to family life. I went to visit my Granddaughter, Gemma and her two boys, Orin and Liri. Liri is three months old. I met them at the Aquarium in Brighton and before the visit got well under way, I fell over and banged my false hip. The upshot of this was that I ended up at A&E late that afternoon, finally getting home eleven hours later with nothing more than a badly bruised hip. I expected a cracked joint at least, so I have to thank God for small mercies.

 

I also had a visit from my Grandson, Adam and his partner, Agata. They came over for an afternoon, brought fish and chips with them, and talked about their flat (apartment), which is being built and should be ready in August. I saw them again about ten days later in a video chat with them in America. They were staying with my grandson, Sam (Adam’s cousin) and his wife, Taryn, who is heavily pregnant. Baby is due in July. The upshot of our 40 minute video call is that I am planning to visit Sam and Taryn in Atlanta on baby’s first birthday next year. That will be something to look forward to, and already I’m getting excited about the whole idea. I just have to stay fit and not fall over again!

 

I also managed a bit of technical wizardry. My laptop packed up. Dead. Nothing I did brought it back to life even though it had been on charge all night. So I took the back off, removed the battery, vacuumed the mother board etc, then sprayed the whole lot in WD40. I dried it off, reassembled it and Bingo — back to life! Perhaps I should give up writing and go into the computer business. Maybe not.

 

So, where am I now? I’m still selling books although not in vast numbers, but I’m averaging about sixty or so sales a month. Long may it continue. And I’m off to a Writers’ Retreat at Beale in Yorkshire this month; something I’m looking forward to immensely. Hopefully I’ll be able to make good inroads into my latest Emma Carney Romance so I can get back to my WW2 novel.

 

Wish me luck!


Michael

 

 

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I  NEVER  KNEW  I  WOULD  BE  A  WRITER.

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