• Michael Parker

Life is still up and down for Pat, and consequently for me too. Good days and bad days, good nights and bad nights; all served up in a haphazard fashion and never knowing which way the coin will fall. Pat is back on antibiotics again having just finished last Wednesday. Our local GP made a house call last night to check Pat out for himself. He gave us the option of having her admitted to hospital so the infection she has, which won’t go away, can be dealt with intravenously, but we (Pat) turned that down. The doctor understood why and wrote the prescription so I could treat Pat here at home.

I got to thinking about levels of excitement the other day, and how they impact on our daily lives. For me and Pat, like most people, we’ve had our fair share. Sometimes an unexpected gift or windfall. A visit from a family member. A holiday abroad for the first time. Babies arriving — four in our house! Moving to Spain and enjoying a big villa with a big pool. Pat and I used to like skinny dipping late in the evening in the pool. It did wonders for my excitement levels, as you can imagine. But as we approach our final years, the excitement levels are moderate and less frequent. With Pat’s condition, I can get excited if she manages to finish the small meal I cooked for her, or if she manages to sleep through the night. Life can be fun, can’t it?

But my excitement level went up a notch during the week: I heard from Joffe Books, and they have scheduled publication of my book, Past Imperfect for the autumn. I wanted to swing Pat around like I did years ago each time my publisher agreed to publish my latest manuscript. But Pat’s emotional responses are miniscule, so I had to enjoy the moment in solitude. However, it will happen and I’m tremendously excited about getting in with such a successful company. I know one swallow doesn’t make a summer, but with luck I may be able to persuade Joffe Books to take on more of my other titles. We’ll see.

I’ve started an advertising campaign on Amazon but have taken the advice of a new member of Mark Dawson’s long list of experts: Janet Margot. Janet worked for Amazon for eight years on the ads team and brings a new kind of expertise to Mark’s team. Her advice was to begin a campaign (for beginners) with one book and run two ads: one with auto targeting, the other with manual (keywords). I decided to try with my World War 2 thriller, Shadow of the Wolf. By stepping away from A&A, thrillers, crime etc., I believe I can have a better idea of what kind of impact my ads have. So far, very little has happened. I’ll give it a few days before I start tinkering. Will this turn out to be a successful campaign for me? Hope so. Wish me luck.

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  • Michael Parker

Another up and down week with Pat, but she’s still holding strong. Her sleep patterns are all over the place, which means mine are. My eldest son said its like having a baby in the house. I had to take her to A&E during the week after a phone consultation with a paramedic. We were in the hospital for five hours, but they were able to complete the necessary tests before discharging her with a prescription for antibiotics. No doubt we’ll tread this path again sometime in the future, but there is little option to do otherwise. We did have a couple of brighter moments when our number two son, Terry came over with our grandson Adam. We had a fish & chip lunch in the garden, social distancing in place of course, and enjoyed the sunshine and being in close proximity with them. Then on Friday, our number three son, John came over. He brought beers, homemade scones with clotted cream and jams, four frozen spag bole meals for me that he’d cooked himself and a curry. Lovely boy. So it’s not all doom and gloom. Well, not until we get on to my book world.

Last week I said I might consider writing an entry for Amazon’s annual KDP competition. Having worked out the numbers I made a start. One week later I’ve managed 800 words and know that it isn’t going to happen, not even if I force myself to write. And as I sit here writing this blog, Royal Ascot is on the TV. Frankie Dettori has won five out of five races. It must be dispiriting for the other jockeys knowing they’re up against one of the best jockeys in the world. And he hasn’t always been on the favourite; he just happens to be bloody good at what he does. And so it is in my book world: there will be writers who succeed in whatever they take on because they’re so good, while others, like me, only threaten to do something. If I was a racehorse, you wouldn’t put money on me.

My advertising campaigns finished during the week. I sold a total of 48 books, which isn’t too bad, but now the sales will fall off the edge of a cliff unless I’m prepared to spend more money, which I’m not. Not at the moment anyway. It’s a sad fact of a writer’s life that advertising is a necessary evil, costly too while you go through the learning curve. I’ve been going through this learning curve for some considerable time, but I think it needs more application on my part. My next campaign will almost certainly be on Amazon, but I will be paying closer attention to all the information I have (and have paid for) in the hope that I can achieve a better ROI and see some significant change in my monthly sales.

I watched the drama, The Salisbury Poisonings during the week. I looked at it like a thriller writer might, but in this case I would have dispatched my tough guy hero off to Russia to quietly dispose of the two men identified by the British government as perpetrators of the poisonings and the subsequent death of an innocent woman, Dawn Sturgess. I did wonder if those two Russians survived being identified on British TV and made to look like absolute chumps trying to pretend they flew all the way from Moscow just to see the spire at Salisbury Cathedral, and then cut their visit short because the weather turned. No doubt some thriller writer is beavering away writing the book already. And me? Well, I did start the sequel to my pulp fiction thriller, Hunted. My tough guy hero arrives incognito in Russia and spends several months odd-jobbing and developing his colloquial Russian as he searches for the man he had been ordered to bring back to England. All it needs is a couple of changes and I would have the makings of the Salisbury sequel. Could I do it? Not this jockey! Wish me luck!

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  • Michael Parker

I watched the ITV documentary ‘Living with Dementia’ this week featuring Ross Kemp talking to two families who are living with the curse of knowing their loved ones have this disease. I was able to recognise the early signs that I see in Pat, and I’m caught up in the dilemma that is familiar to so many people who have gone through it. Pat’s cancer may take her first before her mind becomes so confused she has to go into full time care and suffer all that entails, but what do I hope for? Whatever way the coin lands, we lose. All I can do as time progresses is to make sure I look after Pat completely and totally.

Have you ever been on the cusp of something? I feel as though I’m on the cusp of some fairly good book sales, but I don’t know how to make sure the numbers grow. My Facebook campaign has resulted in nineteen sales of The Boy from Berlin so far this month, while the legacy of a cross promotion I shared at the beginning of the month for No Time to Die, has resulted in fifteen sales. Meanwhile, on D2D I have sold seven books so far. All told that’s forty-one, which is just over three a day: better than last month. I’m still not making a profit, but I’m quite close. However, it could all taper off unless I find a way of “scaling up”. There are several ways of doing this, and invariably means spending more money, buy at least it has given me something to work on and hope I can lift the graph and end up with a smile on my face.

In a couple of weeks’ time I’ll be promoting a fellow CHINDI author, Isabella Muir, who has written a crime mystery set in West Sussex. I can’t give the title of the book yet because it happens to be the same as a best-seller I downloaded at the beginning of the week and am still reading. It’s an eBook written by a retired policeman, but it isn’t a thriller; more a resumé of his career in the Met. I’m enjoying the book despite it having a lot of statistics in it about crime. One thing I can say though, as a result of reading the book, I know that the violent demonstrations that are going on in London will be policed in such a way that the public will be unaware of the enormous effort that goes on behind the scenes while the violence is perpetrated by the zealots.

And on the subject of fellow CHINDI authors, I must congratulate Angela Petch whose book sales have passed the 100,000 mark. It’s great to be in the company of some stellar writers. Hopefully some of the stardust will rub off on me.

Most of you will know that I stopped writing last year so I could spend more time with Pat. The desire to write didn’t go away, but the inclination did. I’ve become used to the idea now, but last night I found myself considering an entry into Amazon’s yearly competition for the best eBook of the year. It has to be self-published on Amazon by the end of August. I did some simple maths. One thousand words a day would get me to August 12th for a 60,000 word novel. That would leave less than three weeks for editing, cover design, etc. before submitting it to KDP on or before the last day in August. It’s possible, except that I haven’t got a clue what to write, and doubt very much if I could even challenge the entries that usually win this kind of prize. I don’t watch much TV now, so would have no excuse about lacking the time. I’m not on the go all day long and do have my quiet times (when I’m usually asleep). So maybe it would give me something to focus on alongside the need to watch over Pat. Who knows? I may even do it. At least it would mean another book to add to my growing list. Wish me luck!

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