MEET ROBERT FEAR (FRED)

This week’s guest author I know from chats on FB, particularly in the groups Indie Authors Support and Discussion and We Love Memoirs. I’ve also read many of his books and enjoyed them. How many of you will pick up on the word ‘time’ in one of his titles? I’m really pleased to welcome Robert/Fred Fear on this week’s blog, starting with a brief biography.

Robert Fear has lived in Eastbourne, on the south coast of the UK for half his life. He moved there to be with Lynn, his future wife and is still there with her thirty years later. As cat-lovers they have taken on several rescue cats over the years and are owned by three at the moment – Hazell (tabby), Jet (black) and Sparky, a bouncy ginger one-year-old.

For his day job, Robert works as a self-employed software consultant. In his spare time, he writes, edits and self-publishes books, and organises annual travel writing competitions.

Robert’s interest in travel goes back to his twenties when he spent most of his time abroad. His experiences included; a summer in Ibiza, hitch-hiking around Europe and touring the USA & Canada. His most eventful trip was in 1981 when he travelled around Asia.

Born into a religious sect known as the Exclusive Brethren, his father John took the brave step of leaving it with his young family when Robert was nine years old. Robert never saw his grandparents again but is thankful for being able to grow up outside this restrictive group. His life has been full of adventures that he would never have experienced otherwise.

Robert Fear - Author Pic

Fred was a nickname that Robert Fear was given while at school. It became his travel name and he is still known as Fred to this day. In this blog post Fred talks about the background to his self-publishing ventures.

Fred’s Diary 1981: Travels in Asia is the edited version of a handwritten diary that I kept during my travels in Asia between February and July 1981. The final collection ran to 600 pages of closely written detail.

It was almost forgotten for many years, only making an appearance when friends asked to see it or to read it.

Fred's Diary 1981 cover v2

In 2005 I decided to start typing up my diary onto the computer. I managed to get the first two months done but then ran out of motivation.

A couple of years later there was an article in a PC magazine about Kindle and self-publishing that sparked my interest.

The second part of my diary was released in 2009 and its title, Time in Thailand, probably indicates to you that things didn’t go as planned. £99 to Hong Kong was published in 2011 and covers the first part of my trip where I did some work as an extra for Chinese television.

By now the bug had truly bitten and I started planning the release of the whole diary. Over the next two years, I typed everything up and started editing the diary for publication, all in my spare time.

Fred’s Diary 1981: Travels in Asia was self-published in December 2013 and was relatively successful. It was a long book though. The paperback version ran to 564 pages and contained 165K words.

During the first few months of 2015 further editing was undertaken and the second edition, released in October 2015, contained less than 100K words, with around 360 pages. It has also had a professional final edit and a wonderful new cover.

A lot of my spare time over the past couple of years has been devoted to making my father’s dream come true.

It started for me back in 1992 when my father, John, was becoming increasingly frail and was confined to bed most of the time. Visits to the hospital became more frequent and the doctors were talking about months, not years.

John had been working on his memoirs for several years and had already typed up many of the chapters. He also had plans in place for finishing the remaining chapters of his book. Now he was unable to continue and my mother, Mary, called me to see if I could help. I was more than happy to.

In the evenings and at weekends I sat at my computer and transcribed the chapters that John had already finished. These were duly printed off and sent back to him. It was a period of reconciliation between father and eldest son as we discussed the changes that he wanted made and planned for the missing chapters.

Exclusive Pedigree v3

During the months following his death, I continued working on John’s memoirs with the help of Mary and my brother, Alastair. The limited edition was published under the title Exclusive Pedigree and if it hadn’t been for a chance remark the life of the book could have ended there.

Towards the end of 2015, I was visiting my mother for a few days and gave her a paperback copy of the second edition of Fred’s Diary 1981: Travels in Asia, which she wanted to read. The conversation turned to self-publishing and we started talking about John’s memoirs. Then came the bombshell, “Did you know Rob that John always wanted to have his book published properly?”

Thanks to the tremendous support of beta-readers and fellow authors alike, my father’s memoirs were professionally self-published in July 2016. I think John would be proud of the finished result, a fabulous tribute to his life entitled Exclusive Pedigree: My life in and out of the Brethren.

Travel Stories 2017

While working on the second edition of Fred’s Diary 1981: Travels in Asia, I started a blog in February 2015 to assist me with the editing process. To encourage people to visit my blog fd81.net I started a Travel Story competition for entries of between 500-1000 words which I ran in parallel with daily diary extracts.

It was such a success that I subsequently ran another competition for Travel Highlights of between 50-100 words. Again this went very well. I decided to publish all the entries in a new book called Travel Stories and Highlights.

Travel Stories 2018

In 2016 I re-ran the two competitions. Again, there were a lot of fantastic entries and a 2017 Edition of Travel Stories and Highlights was published in December 2017 with the best 50 travel stories and 50 highlights from both sets of competitions.

This year was the third year for the competitions and the response has been so terrific that I have been able to publish a brand new 2018 Edition containing 60 compelling Travel Stories and 40 absorbing Travel Highlights.

Twitter:  @fredsdiary1981

Fred’s Blog:   fd81.net

Facebook:    www.facebook.com/fredsdiary1981

Fred’s Diary 1981: Travels in Asia   getBook.at/FredsDiary1981

Exclusive Pedigree: My life in and out of the Brethren  getBook.at/ExclusivePedigree

Travel Stories and Highlights: 2017 Edition   getBook.at/TravelStories2017

Travel Stories and Highlights: 2018 Edition   getBook.at/TravelStories2018

Thank you, Robert, for being my guest today and I can personally recommend his books, especially if you like traveling.

Till next time, take care.

 

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THE BIG TRIP, THE TEMPLE COMPLEX ON THE HILL AND THE QUEEN I DON’T LIKE

I left off last time in northern Thailand at the top of the hill at Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep. I’ve just noticed on the notes that visitors can climb the 309 steps for free to reach the pagoda. Free! Are they kidding! As I posted last time, we took the cable car up there and viewed the panoramic sight of Chang Mai city.  We watched lots of people ring bells, there were rows and rows of them. We weren’t sure of the ‘why’ for all this, and our guide had wandered off, but just in case, we also rang several of the bells. Some were really large and their tonality to my ears at any rate, was pitch perfect.

I think this is a delightful picture of DH finding the clapper on one of the larger ones. I know I posted the other one before, but I can’t help giggling.

The whole area housed several temples, and worshippers were performing different rites at each of them. I didn’t manage to get a full explanation as to what was happening.

I took so many pictures, I’ll have to show you the rest next time.

While Queen Elizabeth is my favourite queen – a Virgo like me, we share a name and my latest colouring product also turns me a slight shade of auburn –  my least favourite monarch either male or female, is the one I have reached now – Victoria, although that wasn’t her first name.vic-haema

I started out having some sympathy with her- also a mum who wasn’t kind, and she lost her father when young, but that is where the similarity ends.

I cheered when she got her own bedroom and practiced walking down the stairs all by herself, what an achievement!  But, as soon as she realized she was queen on one hand she started throwing her weight around and on the other, turned into a silly giggly girl over a man much older than herself. Find out who later. (That’s supposed to be a cliff hanger). Definition of cliff hanger … writer cleverly writes exciting bit without completing all the knowledge leaving the readers wanting to know more, so they eagerly wait for the next episode or chapter.  And no it’s NOT Prince Albert.

Have you joined my newsletter list yet? I forgot to mention last week that I will not share it with anyone else. Either pm me on Facebook or you can email me lucindaeclarke@gmail.com

Still shopping? Christmas is getting closer.

BIG TRIP CHANG MAI – ENTER THE QUEEN EVERYONE KNOWS

The last place we were taken to in northern Thailand was at Doi Suthep to visit Wat Umong and Wat Phrathat Doi. We had driven up into the forested foothills and stopped in a busy street.

and then whisked up in a cable car to the top of the hill

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Which gave us amazing views over Chang Mai

and a vast temple complex.

More pics next week.

APPALLING HISTORY LESSON

By the time Victoria ascended the throne – yes, it’s Victoria, did you guess right? – royalty did not have a terribly good name. George III had been mad, all the fathers and sons had been at each other’s throats and all those extraneous children sired by William did not impress the public either.

She began with flirting with her new Prime Minister Melbourne who was dashing, romantic and dropped compliments like leaves in autumn. No wonder she insisted on seeing him every single day.

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Till next week.

THE BIG TRIP, A COUPLE MORE TEMPLES AND THE ANSWER TO THE QUESTION

Now I’m not really here doing my Monday blog – no, I’m in Miami and due to clever technology this will be scheduled to pop into your mailbox on the right day – well maybe – you may have noticed my dismal record for techie wizardry.

I was impressed with the marketing techniques in the Far East. In the western world any attraction secular or otherwise would be surrounded by stalls, shops and hawkers selling cheap, tatty souvenirs. Often there were no retail sales near the temples, and on the occasion there were, these were low key and very discreet.

The temple complex we visited had once been the home of the emerald Buddha which has a fascinating history. It was discovered in Chang Mai in the 15th century when the covering stucco began to peel off revealing it was made of semi-precious green stone.

Today it is housed in the What Phra Kaew chapel in Bangkok, and 3 times a year the king of Thailand changes the costumes adorning the statue, for the cool season, the rainy season and the hot season.

We were taken to a workshop where they worked aluminium, and I began chatting to a young man from Johannesburg who had travelled over to learn the art.

MORE HISTORICAL INCORRECT INFORMATION

The next queen was informed in her nightgown. That is to say the visitors had arrived very early in the morning after William IV has passed on during the night, so she didn’t have time to get dressed. The dear old sovereign had lasted until his successor was eighteen years and one month old. There was be NO regency!

victoriatothrone

Of course Mummy was simply furious, especially as her previously biddable daughter’s first command was to have her mother’s bed moved out, in future she would sleep alone – well for now.

Have a great week.

THE BIG TRIP NEXT EPISODE AND BYE BYE WILLIAM

The next morning I was hobbling around – with weight and volume in mind – I’d only packed one pair of sandals and all this walking was just too much for them. The soles parted company from the uppers. Our friendly guide whisked us through a Chang Mai market (I ignored the live frogs for sale) to a cobbler on the side of the road, who repaired them in a matter of moments. Now, living in Europe I miss this kind of instant, friendly and very cheap service seen frequently in Africa as well.

I was thrilled with the repairs for we were about to cram in 4 temples in a morning – so you will understand I’m now not sure which is which. According to the itinerary, I’ve seen the Wat Chedi Luang, the Wat Phra Sing including the city pillar in a temple complex.

I was not allowed into the City Pillar because I’m female, as a very embarrassed guide explained to me. In Buddhism? I was quite taken aback. Back to that doctrine of women being unclean part of the time. I was still trying to work out even the most basic principles of this religion, and to be honest I left the Far East none the wiser. Sad, because I’d hoped to learn so much more.

I lent my iPad to the guide and he fired off these shots for me.

In one of the temples I got a blessing from a monk and then his female assistant tied a piece of white cotton on my wrist. I was told the monk was not allowed to actually touch me.img_3872

In the bizarre history lesson today we wave goodbye to William. Remember he was 63 when he climbed up on the throne, so he only reigned for 7 years – honestly, after waiting all that time poor guy and he was 71 when he popped his clogs. Now despite siring or begetting, whichever you prefer, at least eleven illegitimate children we know about, he couldn’t just hand the throne to any of them – simply not allowed under British law. So the nearest relative was the daughter of a woman he particularly disliked. They even had a stand up row in the middle of a royal banquet. Her name was Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, a widowed German princess with two children who had been rushed into a marriage with the fourth and youngest of George III’s sons, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Streathearn, when it was suddenly noticed there wasn’t anyone to come after William.

vics-mum

Standing up at the dinner table William said, in a very loud voice:- “I trust to God that my life maybe spared for nine months longer … I should then have the satisfaction of leaving the exercise of the Royal authority to the personal authority of that young lady, heiress presumptive to the Crown, and not in the hands of a person now near me, who is surrounded by evil advisers and is herself incompetent to act with propriety in the situation in which she would be placed.”

This is a pic of Mummy

There are absolutely no prizes for guessing who was coming next.

THE BIG TRIP FURTHER ON

Sadly I waved goodbye to the ellies, counting my fingers and toes in the car on the way down the hill to make sure I wasn’t a missing a bit. (Yes, I know elephants are vegetarian). We’d heard some horrific stories about the bad treatment some of them had suffered at the hands of their owners and one poor beast was hobbling around on three legs after stepping on a landmine. I was, however, only suffering from a sore toe. I’d watched the handlers smashing those large watermelons on the ground before feeding them to the elephants. That looks easy I thought what fun, and tried it as well – result, a bruised foot. I guess it takes practice and some spare feet.

We returned to our very posh hotel in Chiang Mai through the rush hour traffic which was quite horrendous

and the largest suite we’d stayed in for a long time. We could have hired a courier to pass messages from one end to the other. Don’t you just love the condoms on offer?

Just across the road we investigated this market with all kinds of interesting food on sale.

But wimpishly, we saw an Irish tavern and treated ourselves to some very European steak and potatoes, which was a change from the rice and vegetable diet more typical of the Far East.

Some beautiful, tall women came and greeted us, gorgeously dressed. I could have kicked myself later when DGH explained (in rather pompous tones I thought) they were examples of the transvestites who are common in the city. I didn’t take pictures! They hovered for a while and perhaps they were hoping to earn a few dollars by posing for the diners. I think we were the only diners there who weren’t local residents.

Now William probably didn’t notice the industrial revolution. He was too busy in his palace siring 10 illegitimate children. He attempted to sire at least 1 legitimate heir, but that didn’t work out too well. Mind, by the time he became king at the age of 64, he was probably getting a bit past it. Two of his children born on the wrong side of the blanket had died. He had them all with his mistress an actress (still a rather scandalous occupation in those days) Dorothea Jordan (born Dora Bland) with whom he lived with for twenty years.

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I get a hint here that he wasn’t terribly fond of his wife. To begin with it was an arranged marriage to begat an heir, and even before the union William had written to his eldest son, “She is doomed, poor dear innocent young creature, to be my wife.”

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I think she must have been quite easy going to accept the marriage – it came with a hefty sum of money from parliament but since William was 27 years older than her, Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen spent many happy hours in Marks and Spencers spending most of it. On good days she popped into Harrods, especially at sale time.

Have a great week, a safe Halloween and don’t forget my new book comes out on Thursday the 3rd in the Amie series – Stolen Future, which is on pre-order right now.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M67NRG4  But another blog about that nearer the time.

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