I am seldom serious on this blog, but today I’m making an exception as I have been dismayed reading several posts on Facebook recently. There are thousands of us indies out there on various sites and we all have something in common.

We are trying to sell books.

I am one of them. In this field I am a newbie, I’m starting at the bottom of the ladder, I do have years of experience in writing, but not books and not in marketing.

Before I even put pen to paper or fingertip to keyboard, several TV producers used to insist I included the aims and objectives of the programme.

Indies aim to sell books, most likely to earn money, to share our story and entertain readers, possibly for recognition. It’s a tough world and the competition is fierce. We aim to raise awareness, collect reviews and get our names into newspapers and on radio and television. The prize at the end of the race is the film contract. We’ve made it, we have arrived.

We are also dealing with a lot of unknowns – how Amazon’s algorhythms work, how they calculate borrows, why they remove reviews etc.

Picture this. You have produced what you feel is your best work, sweated hours over it and now you are sitting in a company boardroom watching six men in business suits pour over your work. One by one they rip it to shreds, telling you exactly what is wrong with it. They don’t like this, that is incorrect, the other doesn’t flow and so on and so on. You cringe, wring your hands under the table and realize that their literary skills amount to little more than signing their names at the bottom of important documents.

But, they are the client, they are paying the money and that money will put bread on the table. You slink out of the front gate with their derisive words ringing in your ears and instructions to return in three days time with a better/correct version.

This was one of many baptisms of fire I endured in the early days of my writing career. It happened to me several times and it was only as the years went by that I could expect to write one, two or at the most, three drafts and have them accepted.

Over the thirty odd years I wrote for a vast variety of clients. Some were savvy, some hadn’t a clue, some were kind, some were outright vicious while others, the worst sort, were frustrated reincarnations of Dickens/Shakespeare and Steven Speilberg all rolled into one.

People vary, they have different tastes, likes, interests, standards, attitudes, dreams and beliefs.

So, where am I going with all this?

Criticism. Your book IS going to be criticized. You WILL be maligned for the work you produce. But here is the difference between an amateur and a professional. If you poke your head above the parapet you ARE going to receive applause and you ARE also going to get shot at.

Learn to take it in your stride. Learn to tell the difference between construction and destruction and carry on. Take note of comments that will help you and ignore the rest.

I do not expect a five star review from everyone who reads my book. You do not have to be nice about my work because we are linked through social media. You may like it, you may not, but do not agonize as you click one or two stars before you explain what didn’t work for you.

As indies we are in a precarious position. We are regarded as the people who are not good enough to be accepted by the established publishing houses. We might think our work is wonderful, but in reality it is riddled with errors, badly edited and with plot lines which fall apart on page two. We are so desperate that we will opt to self-publish and do all the hard marketing ourselves in the hope of selling a few books.

Is this true? No! We know it, but does the general public know it? That’s their perception of us and it is going to take time for us as a group to change mindsets.

How do we do that? By policing ourselves, by being honest about books we are given to review.

I read a book the other week which made me sit up in amazement. I knew it was an indie, but it was head and shoulders better than any indie book I have read for a long time. I realized that I had only been reading indie books for months and had lost the yardstick I use for established authors. This made me re-think.

I’m not suggesting you call up Amazon and start write damning reviews of yet another book you think is only so-so. I am suggesting that we have the courage to tell the author, gently, kindly and firmly that it is, in your humble opinion, not quite up to standard.

Yes, we are all terrified that no one will like us, that they will in turn, refuse to give us a good review. We are scared to make enemies or become unpopular. In the very early days I gave two books a 3 star review – that was before I understood the unwritten rules. I also gave a very popular book 4 stars as I just didn’t think it was that good. Curious, I asked a publisher I knew why she had given it 5 stars, what had I missed. She also thought it was not a good book, but because all the other people … I learned to play by those very rules which in the long run will not do us indies any favours.

Those who will succeed are the ones with the unique approach. Harry Potter, 50 Shades of Rubbish and Dan Brown all prove this.

Yet today I saw a post where E L what’s her name has published another book explaining why 50 shades is an OK book. We might hate it for all kinds of reasons, but she found a hole in the market and was the first to plug it.

We have to find that magic ingredient if we want to hit the big time and everything else has to be up to standard as well.

I wish I could find it.

Oh, and finally, did you get a spare moment to vote? Amie is in the finals of the read freely best indie books of 2015.  Here is the link, just in case, today is the last day.

Next week it will be nonsense as usual. I feel a whole lot better now I’ve got all that off my chest.


DH is mooching around the lounge. I can see him mooching because he is in the lounge and so am I. Ideally I would be tapping away in the solitude of my study, but I don’t have one. So I am in the lounge. This is the same lounge that doubles up as the TV room, the entertainment area, the dining room and part is also occupied by the kitchen. In fact we do everything in the lounge except sleep (unless the TV is super boring) spend the night and shower.

I know he is going to say something, but being DH it will be in his own good time. He mooches some more, mooch, mooch, mooch and then finally comes out with it.

“You’re not really going to throw Amie 2 in the bin are you?”

Is this a breakthrough? I wonder. Is he finally taking a real interest in my writing? Or is he just miffed he’s read Amie 2 TWICE and wasted his time?

“Are you?” he persists.

“No, probably not. A couple of people on Facebook reassured me that it’s quite good.”

“So you will publish it then?”

“Well yes, I guess so.”

He peers at the screen. “So what are you doing now?”

“I am revising the 388 times I’ve used the word ‘then’, and after that I will investigate the 136 x ‘maybes’ that are totally unnecessary, and the word ‘just’ slipped in 290 times without me noticing.”

“Ah right.” He mooches off, but only a few feet, it is a small lounge. I have now learned to ignore the radio, the television, the phone conversations and I’m working my way up to conducting conversations all while writing. No mean feat.

I tap away, considering if I should push the point I could have taken up, say playing on an X Box thingie, you know lots of bangs, whoops, clattery noises, ding dong and pow! sounds when you slaughter some screen character. I could point out it could be worse, at least writing is a quiet, peaceful occupation.

The semi-silence is broken.

“So you are going to publish it then? Not as bad as you thought it was? I thought it was OK.” (high praise from DH)

“Yes I guess so.”

“Is it ready yet?”



Back to the past, where we were learning about poor Charles I of England. At least he was the first one of these, refreshing not to have yet another name repeated isn’t it?

I call him poor? Well he was not that poor, he had lots of money but he spent it rather quickly, far too quickly. This is partly because he refused to shop at Primark and Walmart, preferring to have his gorgeous outfits made to measure in Saville Row. His bank manager was furious with him, he was sick of extending his overdraft. He was not impressed when Charles promised to tax the ships and repay the outstanding loans by forcing people to sail away to sea. This he called the Ship money.

Photo of a marble bank
Photo of a marble bank

If the bank manager was going to be obdurate, Charles then decided to get parliament to give him money, but they were even more measly than Barclays, Lloyds or HSBC. They insisted there was no need to purchase from Fortnum and Masons for the state banquets held daily, and he should shop at Lidl’s like everyone else.


Charles was furious. He said that he ruled by the Divine right of Kings – he was king and that was right, Kings were divine and that was right, Kings were right and that was right and everything else was all right.


Coming out of Primark clutching his ecologically-friendly, brown paper bags, Cromwell didn’t agree, and on Friday I will tell you what he said.

Amie 2 very nearly went in the dustbin last night (if you are reading this in the States, please insert trash or garbage here). This editing does my head in, you go over and over the same thing again and again and again. That would not be so bad, except the minute you see it on line, all the errors leap off the page screaming “Look at us!”

It gets to the point when you hate the story. You hate it with a passion. It’s stupid, it’s childish and it’s just too embarrassing for words.

But that’s not the worst. You have joyfully sent out the message that your next book will be decorating the shelves in Amazon very soon now. You have told people about it and now you feel you have to go through with it.

My only other option is to slide it out silently and tell no one. But that’s not going to work either. No one is going to buy it, which, on the one hand is good, it’s less embarrassing for me, on the other, the bailiff might just arrive a little sooner. Maybe I could start a trend with the ‘New Silent Launch Campaign’.

My editor has been so good, I can’t praise her highly enough, but the stuff she has found makes me want to cringe. It reminds me of the time I wrote a book report for my youngest who was battling with a homework overload. I was rather appalled to receive a B+, I was at that time already a professional writer, and I was sure she was going to come top of the class.  I spent many hours debating whether I should mention this fact at the next parents’ evening, but in the end decided to remain quiet.

I can’t remember if I had any such qualms about Amie 1 (an African Adventure). She is what they call my marmite book, the one with the best sales figures. As I mentioned in my last blog she is in the finals of the Read Freely best books of 2015 and you can vote for her here.   She is under the literary section. And did I mention you can vote 3 times? Well just in case I didn’t mention it, you can vote for her three times.

Next Sunday I am on the Facebook group We Love Memoirs Spotlight. This simply means that people can go on line and ask questions and I answer them. If you are not a member of the group, there is time to join and even win one of my books which you can then shred!! Kickoff time is 9 am UK time, which is 10 am my time.


Now last time I had just mentioned Charles I and his gay attire.  Here he is with another snazzy outfit.


Today’s question is: this is a photograph of his top half, but what part of him did he lose later on?  Answers wrapped in $100 notes will get high marks.

But before we get that far, I must mention his great enemies the Roundheads. They bought all their boring clothes from Primark and Walmart, and as you can see from the pictures below, they had no sense of style at all. In fact they were extremely boring.

roundhead 1 roundheads 2 roundheads 3

British fashion designers were not going to put up with this of course, and war was declared.


My nose is firmly glue to the laptop screen but I can feel a pair of eyes drilling into the back of my neck.

“Are you finished yet?”

“No. Nowhere near.”

“What bit are you doing now then?”

“These are the corrections and suggestions my editor sent through.”

“Ah, so it’s not ready yet?”


“Is it nearly ready?”

“No. These bits here are the word repetition stuff and commas in wrong places. Then I have a list of major suggestions on the storyline to consider. Then it goes back to her, and I drop it to my kindle and read it through and then, when we are all happy with it, I’ll send it flying across the lounge, via some satellite in space, onto your laptop.”

“So, it’s not ready than?”

“Ah, no. Not yet.”

“Won’t be for ages then.”

“At least a couple of weeks I think.”

“Oh.” DH wanders off to find something else to do.

DH is just itching to get on to Createspace and begin the upload and format. I really don’t know why he is in such a hurry, the truckload of Prozac I ordered has not arrived yet and I will need several shovelfuls to keep him calm. Frankly I’m dreading it, the air will be blue as one thing after another goes wrong.

Now in winter this is not as serious, the doors and windows for the most part are closed. But we are in the high season right now, with everything flung wide open and several of the apartments around here are temporarily housing young and impressionable minds. We don’t need language like that floating around our urbanization.

I have to admit that DH is good at the formatting, it’s just with age, from one book to the next (and let’s face it, I’m not churning them out all that often) it’s easy to forget how to do it, or remember the shortcuts you discovered last time.

Still that is to come soon and in the meantime I’m heartily sick of the book myself and beginning to wish I’d put Amie six foot under months ago.

Now for a bit of groveling and pleading, where I lose all sense of dignity (you lose a lot of that when you self market). Would you believe I used to be a quiet, shy, wilting violet? No?  This email dropped into my inbox a couple of weeks ago.

During the month of June, close to 6,000 book lovers nominated what they consider The 50 Self-Published Books Worth Reading (2014/15). The competition was fierce and only the very best have made it onto the final shortlist – and that, I’m happy to say, includes your book, Amie An African Adventure. This month, ardent readers will be voting to whittle that shortlist from 100 to 50.You do not have to do anything – you’ve already played your part by writing a book that so many people evidently love – however, you may want to ask your fans to visit      to vote for Amie An African Adventure in the Literary Category. Good luck.  We’ll post the final results on early in August.

I’m not really begging am I? Just doing as I am told. Should you wish to vote for Amie, I would be so thrilled, but if not, then firstly I will never know, and secondly there is no truth in the rumour that I will be shinning up the drainpipe outside your bedroom window, axe in hand, to ensure that you do.

Time to go back several more months, to the time when Charles I ascended the throne and history moved into the middle period, NOT to be confused with the Middle Ages. Now the reason that Charles came to the throne was a) James was dead. b) he didn’t dribble. c) he thought it was time he had a go.

Thus began the struggle between the Cavaliers – wrong but romantic and the Roundheads, right and repulsive.  As a cavalier King Charles had a long pointy beard, flowing locks and gay attire.


Here are some nicely dressed cavaliers.


The Roundheads on the other hand were clean shaven, wore tall conical hats, white ties and sombre garments.  Of course, war was inevitable! But I’ll tell you more about that next time.


DH has finished reading. Time for the final session. We sit at the table. He takes a breath. I wriggle nervously. We begin. (By now, you will have noticed the short, sharp sentences. These, I am reliably informed by proper writers, add tension and build up suspense, so by now you should be sitting on the edge of your seats. You’re not? Well I tried).

“You describe the blood flowing in the river.”

“Yes, I thought that rather good. You see after…”

“But it’s dark.”

“Yes it’s night time but …”

“You wouldn’t see the blood floating on the water in the dark.”

“Ah, yes, well maybe I could bring the moon out briefly so she could see it, I really like that bit.”

“Wouldn’t work. You still couldn’t see it.”

Sighs. “OK.”  (delete, delete, delete).

“Now, X goes down to the desk to find out what date it is.”

“Well they have been away from civilization for a long time and they are not sure…”

“They were working on the lap top?”


“Then why didn’t they just look at the right hand side on the bottom of the screen?”

Looks. Sees date. Feels stupid. “Ahhhhh, yes. Maybe I could get rid of him for a few moments if he … no. OK it’s gone! Scratch, scratch, scratch.

“Hails of bullets?”

“Another nice phrase I thought, I’ve read that somewhere I’m sure.”

“Hail falls from the sky. Doesn’t work. I’ve been in the army remember and you don’t get hails of bullets.”

Delete, delete, delete, scratch, scratch, scratch.

“Now this is just total rubbish. And you’ve mentioned it three times!”

“What now?”

“Animals and their code of conduct. They don’t have a code of conduct!”

“Oh yes they do! Not on paper no, but they follow the basic survival rules and they don’t have the same base behaviour man has. For example, they don’t kill for fun …”

“No code of conduct.”

“It’s not written down in a charter or anything but they do …”

“They behave like animals.”

“Yes, decent animals they don’t do the awful things these people do and they are supposed to be above the animals. I’m going to fight you on this one.”

“Be it on your own head. You want men to read this book don’t you?”

“Of course I do. Why?” suspiciously.

“You’re sure it’s not for Mills and Boon?”

“I couldn’t write a book suitable for M & B if my life depended on it. Oh, no, I see where you are going with this. Amie stays the way she is. She’s evolved for sure, but she’s not a hardened battle scarred member of the SAS or the red beret’s or green or whatever colour they are. She’s going to stay a female.”

“She’s lying here in hospital. What’s wrong with her?”

“Well after the (embargoed until publication) she lands up there.”

“So, does she have broken bones, has her head fallen off? What are her injuries?”

“Do I have to explain that? I’m not good with hospital stuff.”

Suddenly, in a mad attempt to deflect further comments I exclaim in amazement how many downloads I’ve had on my free book promo.

“Well in that case, after giving all those books away for nothing, we’d better celebrate by going to the supermarket and buying a loaf of bread, it will go nicely with the water.”

I’m not the only one in this house with a warped sense of humour.

I’m not sure if James of the many numbers had a warped sense of humour or not, but he sure had a lot of problems. There were groups of people who just refused to think the right way.

One group of people who were totally fed up, were the Pilgrim’s Progress gang who sailed off west in the Mayfly and became one of the chief causes of America.

Now you may remember this was the welcome Christopher Columbus got on the other side of the pond.


They all seemed very pleased to see him. But this was not the case for the Mayfly passengers as this is what they saw as they approached land.

mayflower sign

This of course made them feel very welcome. But then from round the corner came a group of people who showed they were most unhappy.

protest march

So, there were people already living there and they were appalled and displeased with these newcomers, obviously developers, who were now going to ruin their land.

red indians

Especially when the Mayfly crew showed them their vision for the future. They had it all planned out.

cameron-davidson-manhattan-skylinePhoto by Cameron Davidson

But we must abandon them to their fate and return to James who by now had taken an inordinate interest in witches. More on Monday.


Just in case you don’t read much of this, I’d like to mention up front that you can get Walking over Eggshells free (for the first time ever) up to and including Wednesday 15th July 2015. And to make it easy for you, here is the link.

WoE cover eReade2r

She has already topped the free chart in genre in the US and the UK and the real promo doesn’t start until tomorrow. So, just in case Amazon or any of the other outlets like Nook, Kobo and Apple suddenly explode, or go off line because somebody forgot to pay the electricity bill, why not grab it now?

amie 2 -2

So there we were in the rabbit hutch lounge and DH is continuing his feedback on Amie 2. I’ve dug my heels in and refused to let her pee for several weeks, or if she does, it’s a very private affair you don’t want to read about.

But we move on to other bodily secretions.

“She’s always crying.”

Now really, I can take criticism, but this is beyond the pale. “She’s a girl! Girls cry!”

“So I’ve noticed (remember DH doesn’t like soppy movies?) Yes but you portray her as tough, so why is she always blubbing?”

“She’s not! I think she only bursts into tears a couple of times.”

“You want men to read the book don’t you?”

“Yes of course, it’s not exactly chick lit, well not really. Least I don’t think it is.”

“Then she doesn’t need to burst into tears all the time. She should be tougher than that.”

“Oh come on, she cries when she hears how they burnt the orphanage down, all those little children…”


“I’d cry. Wouldn’t you? Well, maybe you wouldn’t. But however tough she is on the outside, she’s still feminine and tender on the inside.”

“Not once in two books, has she been to the hairdresser or had her nails done.”

“Of course not! If you’re slogging through the African bush about to die from dehydration, the last thing on your mind is booking an appointment at the beauty parlour.”

“If she keeps bursting into tears, she’s going to look a real wuss.”

“Well she’s not Rambo nor the Terminator either. I’ll cut out one of the crying bouts, maybe just a few feminine tears running down her cheeks. How’s that?”

“Really? Well let’s move on to how they get to their destination. She’s walking the wrong way. She’d never get there in a million years, much less in a couple of hundred pages. Did you draw a map?”

“No, but it’s in my head.”

“You should have a map.” DH draws one, and it’s all wrong.

“No, the river flows west to east, and they approach it from the north.”

“You have her walking west, and she’s coming from over here.”

“OK. You have a point, I’ll make her go south west then.”

Next comes a huge tussle over the map. DH has to turn a map round to read it, me, I can read them upside down no problem. DH sulks a little as I redraw the North-South over his beautiful map, and then he insists in adding in all the valleys and ridges which are quite unnecessary.

We have another session this afternoon, so I’m sure there will be another barrage of comments. I am thrilled he is taking such an interest, but I might just look up the number of a good divorce lawyer, just in case.

Back now in history we come to a real date, and one of the more exciting occasions in the reign of the slobbering and dribbling James of the many number’s reign. Yes! An accurate one November 5th – it doesn’t matter about the year, that’s not important.

It’s when a friendly guy called Fawkes decided to blow up the king and the parliament all at the same time.  I can now tell you the real and unexpurgated version of this.


Guy Fawkes was the marketing manager of the major gunpowder company in London and the directors called him in to devise a marketing strategy to up their advertising campaign and create more sales.

Many hours were spent outlining their aims, objectives and mission statement, before they took the final decision to blow up the king, the Houses of Parliament and the whole parliament in session.


(Frankly, as we know they would not have got many of them as this picture shows). But they chose this target because there were too many parliaments held and they did not seem to achieve anything.


In the end it was all a terrible failure as someone squealed on them. There’s always someone right?

Now I’m not one of those authors surrounded by admirers and praise singers. Long gone are the days when people stopped me and asked for my autograph (and yes that did happen when I was young and almost famous). Today my biggest critic is DH (Dear Husband), although thankfully they wouldn’t let him post his 3 star review – because he knows me.

A little about DH. He’s a man’s man, and wouldn’t know his feminine side if he fell over it. He’s tough, he’s a John Wayne clone, and can’t even bear to watch emotional and sentimental movies where the women cry and the little kids get beaten up. He’s the down to earth practical kind. I’m sure you get the picture.


He takes little notice of my writing, (except for the technical side of uploading the final mss) but I think he has been quite surprised that I’ve sold a few books. He reads them of course when I’ve finished them, and passes comments – lots of (helpful) comments.

To my surprise, he offered to read Amie 2 for a second time and then, as they say, the trouble started.

“You have her hiding here for a couple of days?”

“Yes, because…”

“Here she is, stretching and limbering up after sitting all that time?”

“Yes, because…”

“When does she take a pee?”

“A what!”

“A pee. She’s eating and drinking we know all about that, and you don’t tell us when she pees.”

“I don’t think that’s necessary.”

“Why not? It’s supposed to be a real situation …”

“Well Sandra Bullock never peed once in all that time she was stuck in space, and you didn’t question that when we came out of the movies.”

“I still think she should continue with her natural functions.”

“But she is out in the middle of the African bush… it’s not exactly a trip to the rest room.”


“People will notice the gap in your story and it won’t ring as true.”

“It’s not going in and that’s final.” (through gritted teeth). Don’t pursue this, I think, and ask me to describe where all those energy bars and biltong went.

“And there are still no sex scenes.”

“I’m no good at sex scenes.”

“But they are a young, healthy, married couple aren’t they?”

“Yes but….”  (to be continued)

I am running a huge promotion early next week and offering Walking over Eggshells for FREE for the first time ever. Yes, you read that right, FREE!!  I am swallowing my pride to see if a few downloads spread the word about me. It’s an enormous learning curve to price drop on several sales sites and co-odinate everything. So I would like to say a big thank you to Sarah Jane Butfield who was amazing today helping me to get my head round planning my first big free promo. So, if you’ve been too impoverished, or you have better things to buy with your money, now is your chance to get a copy of Walking over Eggshells for free.

A little bit about Sarah Jane as she is also a writer and a whole lot more.

Sarah Jane Butfield – Nurse, mum, step-mum, wife and indie author advocate is also now an international best selling author of three travel memoirs set in Australia and France. In addition she has launched a writer self-help series. Books 1 & 2 are out now. Sarah Jane also has a medical memoir due to release this summer called, ‘Ooh Matron!’ For more about her work visit her author website

This busy lady finds time to help and support aspiring, new and experienced authors with many aspects of book marketing and promotion through her website and social media group called Rukia Publishing. The majority of the work they do is free and any paid services help to fund expansion of the website to be able to help more authors.

The Rukia Publishing social media team is made up of readers and authors and in addition to sharing, tweeting and reblogging they help me to produce a free daily newsletter that allows authors to advertise their free and price reduced promotions, author events, new releases, pre-orders, etc. The service is free for readers and authors so tell everyone about us please. We have a reader advocate, Shontae Brewster who is spreading the word to reader groups and book clubs.  This means that they can receive it as a resource to access author news, free and discounted books.

Here is the link:  RPBP News

Time for for our history lesson and I just introduced you to James Ist, 73rd, and 105th.  If you remember, they dragged him down from Scotland and popped him on the throne, but oh dear, they had no idea what they were letting themselves in for. He slobbered and dribbled a lot and he really annoyed the more fastidious courtiers. After every meal he was festooned with food and he was not what they had expected, especially after the lady-like Elizabeth. They cleaned him up for this photograph.

JAMES 1 - 2

To make matters worse, he had Sir Walter Raleigh executed for being left over from the last reign, and tried to sort out the difficult question of Ireland and Scotland.


But it gets worse. He encountered great problems as the Picts and Scots and Celts were by now all muddled up and no one was quite sure where they belonged any more.  James himself was a bit muddled up as he apparently liked boys as much as he liked girls. He was referred to as  “the wisest fool in Christendom”.


He insisted they re-write the Bible in English and put his name at the front and thus he became an international, bestselling author once he uploaded it to Amazon. Everyone gave him 5 stars in their reviews because he was the king and he threatened to invade America if Amazon even thought about taking any of his reviews down because they were written by friends.

But was he able to produce an heir?  Next time…..


First of all I would like to say thank you for following my blog. I feel very privileged that you have signed up for an email every time I post. I read a lot of blogs and they are all so impressive. They are full of great advice to other authors, explain difficult and complicated pronouncements from publishers, researchers and the media. They contain wise, erudite, well researched content and links to further places for more enhanced reading.

And what do you get here on my blog? A load of rubbish, complete and utter nonsense, and if you believe anything at all, then maybe you should book an appointment with a one of those people in little white coats. I’ve heard they are very friendly.

It’s hard to think of anything to put on pixel right now as the heatwave sweeps across Spain. Not that I am complaining, I seldom if ever complain about the heat, but while I planned to edit yesterday afternoon, I dozed off and only woke at 6pm.

I should rename this Mushy Monday, as my brain has yet to kick into gear, so I thought I would include a short piece from Truth, Lies and Propaganda just for a change. I rarely go on about my books on this blog – had you noticed that? So here is the first part of a story when we slipped up while filming.

It’s rare that you get away with trying to cut corners – someone, somewhere will always notice – and we fell into this trap in a big way.

We were on another shoot for Durban Tourism. This time they were quite specific about what they wanted. Not just the usual sea, sun and sand, they explained, this is more for those looking for adventure.

“We need to show the different kinds of things the visitors can do, active things.”

“Fine,” we said, “what do you suggest?” Ah, that set them thinking, but eventually they came up with an answer. One of those wildly, adventurous, active things they wanted was fishing in the rock pools off the shoreline.

Now personally I wouldn’t go on holiday to catch fish in rock pools, especially things with claws and teeth, but I guess they knew what they were talking about and knew what normal people really liked to do on holiday. Who was I to question them?  

This was a larger than normal budget shoot, it must have been for a really big, important expo. We could have real, live models from the modelling agency and, much to my horror, the clients said they wanted real, live fish as well!

I’d planned to stock up on fish props from the local toy shop, or if they didn’t stock plastic crayfish, (I had my doubts about that), at worst I would change that to the ‘ocean fresh’ counter at my local supermarket. But now that wasn’t going to work either if they wanted them alive. Carl knew of a couple in his favourite fish restaurant, but when he went to enquire about them, unfortunately they had been eaten the night before.

That was plan A and B up the creek, so we moved on to plan C. I would pop down as the fishing boats came in the following morning and purchase a couple of live crayfish from them. No, correction – I would get someone else to go down and buy the creatures, my bravery has its limits.

Plan C wasn’t going to work either. Crayfish were not in season and were nowhere to be found in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Natal. Could we think of a plan D? (continued Friday).

Today’s wild life picture is of a zebra, but you knew that didn’t you? download

Well even my favourite queen had to go and meet her maker sometime and then England was stuck. Neither Mary, nor Elizabeth, nor for that matter Jane, left any heirs, so the English desperately hunted around for someone, anyone, who could sit on the throne.

In the end it was reluctantly decided that the offspring of that terrible nuisance north of the border would have to do. So off they trekked north on the N1, stopping only at the best service stations, and stormed over the border into Scotland and announced to James that he was going to be King James I of England.


“But how can that be!” he exclaimed. (They spoke like that in those days). “I am already King James VI of Scotland.” Now that was a problem and the counselors and Ministers of State went into a huge huddle until at last it was decided that he could be both. Immediately they ordered the best coach from Imperial Buses to conduct him to London but he sulked all the way south as he preferred to travel by train.


And you can see how sulky he was. He wouldn’t even smile when this photograph was taken. On Friday I will tell you about his personal habits – now that’s something to look forward to!.


While I was waiting for inspiration to strike this morning – frankly my brain is no more awake today than it was on Monday – I went cold when I remembered a couple of comments on social media this week. One was that religion, politics and income were not topics for general  conversation. Apart from books is there anything left to talk about?

The second is that what we put up on social media stays up there for ever and ever and ever. Now I have no problem with my books being for sale for ever and ever, but the drivel I write each week? Does this put me and all the other bloggers into the same category as say the politicians? (Not that I think I am as important as they are, I must add). In 1982 they said something that in 2015 they contradict, and you can bet that some reporter lurking somewhere, will remember this and make it very public. The result? This politician is irresponsible, tells lies, is fickle, two faced, inconsistent, backtracking – the list could go on and on and on. (Please note this shot below is just a general shot of politicians. I only slate them individually in my monthly column).


So I got to wondering how many times I had done the same thing. Well it’s early days yet so there is plenty of time for me to make an about turn. Problem is I can’t remember from Monday to Friday what I’ve written, and if we go back a whole month then I’m stuffed.

What has not changed though is the annual battle between DH and the ants. They are on the march again, and thank heavens they are small or we would be in big trouble. They have mined their way out of nowhere and once again demanded rent free accommodation in the lounge. I am now sitting next to a pile of eradication paraphernalia all designed to send these little darlings to ant heaven. I dare not suggest to DH that they are on a winning streak, as I don’t know how many cousins, other relatives and friends they have invited but the odds are lengthening by the minute.  If I was a great mathematician I could probably work out how long it would be before they brought the whole house crashing down around our ears, they must be hiding out in the foundations somewhere.


Today’s wild life picture is my favourite African animal, for it’s majesty, grace and sheer beauty.


I won’t name it as I always forget how many rrr’s and ffff’s there are!

So, back in time to the greatest queen, Elizabeth I and more about her boyfriend. Here is his official pin up poster. Well there were all these rumours flying about concerning Essex, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, [that’s all one person, with a lot of names], and most people were convinced he was the queen’s lover


He had been friends with Elizabeth for a long time, here is a photograph of him at her coronation.


I’m reliably informed he’s in there somewhere.  However, when he upset her by not solving the Irish Question, she had him flung in the Tower, but on the understanding he would give her a ring before the due time for beheading and she would pardon him.

queen liz 1

Unfortunately he got the wrong number and he failed to contact her, so he lost his head after all.

“God may forgive you,” was Brown Bess’s memorable comment to the telephone operator, “but I never will.”

So ends yet another sad love story.