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 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:


Fred’s Diary 1981: Travels in Asia

Exclusive Pedigree: My life in and out of the Brethren

Travel Stories and Highlights: 2017 Edition

Travel Stories and Highlights: 2018 Edition

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.




There was one more temple complex to visit, Wat Yai Chai Mongkol (don’t worry I can’t pronounce these names properly either). This was acres and acres of ruins stretching almost as far as the eye can see.

THE PROMO BIT (only because I’m told ‘it’s the right thing to do’)

Just in case you’ve not come across my Amie series – she’s the young housewife I take out of England and dump in Africa and then civil war breaks out. She has a terrible time and then the saga continues in books 2 & 3. I am currently writing book 4, it’s a wonder she’s survived this long. 🙂  This is the link for book 1.

And to be extra helpful, this is what they look like. Thanks to Daz Smith for the covers and to Gabi Plumm for making them readable 🙂


You must have heard by now that Victoria was soppy over Albert, so soppy that she wanted to name all their children either Albert or Albertina until it was pointed out to her that they would get all their banks accounts and post and credit cards muddled up if they all had the same name.

A good example was the day Victoria turned 25, (she had already been on the throne for 7 years) and she received a portrait of himself from Albert with a group of angels in the background, and she was quite thrilled. (The day DH gives me something like that he’s out the door!)


Victoria was jealous of any time Albert spent with the children. Albert, or Bertie the eldest boy, wasn’t making much progress and the royal couple noticed with horror that he was everything his father was not, – charming, easy with the opposite sex and eloquent with a gay, (no, not that sort of gay) sunny nature. As they saw it, he was well on the road to ruin.



But his greatest sin was one his mother could never forgive him for – next week, or maybe the week after if I change my mind.


Well last week’s blog raised a lot of interest and a warm, fuzzy feeling among a lot of writers. I can only say I feel very privileged to be connected to so many clever and creative writers and readers across the world. And, in case you were wondering, it was written to make you laugh about the dreaded marketing monster we all face.  However, this week I’m back on the Big Trip, and a bit more about that dreadful woman (apologies to all royals).


Now, since writing about the Big trip I’ve been following several other travel blogs and I am so impressed with the meticulous note taking and careful recording. I did keep a small diary, and I do have the itinerary, but it was a year ago now and it’s all getting a big fuzzy (mind I have trouble remembering what I did yesterday!).  In the past I’ve written detailed information, but I missed a lot as I scribbled away – similar to the old days when we travelled and I had my head stuck in a map and saw nothing! Give the guy who invented the GPS a Nobel prize, he deserves it.

We spent several hours at the Bang-Pa Summer Palace and I wanted to share these pictures of this structure in the complex which was all in red.

I was constantly asking the guide questions, but I’m afraid I didn’t get much info from him as to why this building was so different from the others.





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Yet again I have to bow my head in shame at the erudite, fascinating well-researched historical articles I read. They are full of interesting facts and information. Well you won’t get any of that here. If you believe a word of any of this, I would be amazed.

Now you may not agree with me that Victoria was a pain in the **** but of course she was there for a very long time, up there on the throne I mean and lots of things happened in the 63 years. She was kept busy a lot of the time being pregnant and having all nine of her children, so Albert and she must have ‘done it’ nine times! In 1853 she had her eighth child Leopold using chloroform to help with the pain. Members of the (all male) clergy were not pleased, they said it was against Biblical teaching, they even said that when having a baby a woman was supposed to suffer. Oh yes? How many of them had had babies? Let them try it just once, with or without chloroform!


Now because so many of the royals had led debauched lives in the past, Victoria wanted to be an example to all the poor, ignorant people who were not kings or queens and show them all how to behave. That’s why she made her family pose for pictures like this. How they kept the children still that long for the painter I’ll never know. Good old Victorian discipline I guess.

PS  I am planning on blogging a second time each week featuring writers and their books. If you would like to be included, just drop me an email, or pm me on my Facebook page.





I thought the summer palace was beautiful. Not imposing in the style of Versailles, or Buckingham Palace, much simpler. I could imagine a royal family here living more down to earth lives with only a small retinue.

We are allowed inside, but no photographs permitted, except in this small structure on the water – how I would have loved to have that as a writing area.


A little about this age as Victoria’s reign was such a long one, and there were major changes in Britain. For example, another interesting thing to happen during her time was the invention of the spinning jenny, otherwise known as the low paid female factory worker.


Unfair laws in Britain at that time said it was forbidden to chain workers to their benches…


.. but with big profits in mind, the colonials of that time exported the idea and set up the Nike factories in the far east using child labour at slave rates.

Next week a little about the 9 children who survived Victoria – just.


We drove to Ayutthaya, the former capital of Thailand to visit the Bang Pa-In Summer Place which was stunning. Like most places it is a complex of buildings formerly used by the Thai kings. I think the pictures speak for themselves and it was one of the most beautiful places we went to with very few chattering tourists to disturb the peace.

While Queen Victoria was expanding so was the Empire and her reign of 63 years, 7 months is the longest of any other British monarch until Queen Elizabeth who became queen in 1952.


It was during this time that England went to war against all kinds of other, interesting people in interesting places, such as China, Afghanistan, the Seiks, the Burmese, Abyssinia and the Zulus. This kept Parliament very busy pouring for hours over maps to find out where these places were.


Two downloadable back stories for free in the newsletter – find out more about Amie’s early life and Ben’s coming of age.


The summer palace at Bang Pa-In was truly special and as I can’t put too many photos in each blog, I’ll spread it out over a couple of weeks. No words from me are necessary, the pictures speak for themselves.


Well of course all this frolicking around in the bedroom had consequences didn’t it? (Urban legend has it that Albert put locks on the doors – that’s how serious it was).  I’m still puzzling over that letter from last week, do you think Albert ever got to read it?  The Queen hated being pregnant, viewed breast-feeding with disgust and thought new born babies were ugly. She compared them to frogs.


In November 1840, three doctors and a nurse were installed in Buckingham Palace. When the Queen went into labour, she was worried that she might cry out and be heard by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Prime Minister Lord Palmerston and other important ministers who were all waiting in the next room.

This was referred to as the first silent birth – and you thought it might be fun to be a princess? Think again.

The reason for this almost public exhibition? Years ago, many had believed that James II’s son was a changeling and had been smuggled into the queen’s bedchamber in a warming pan, so it became practice to have state ministers on hand to view a new royal baby immediately it was born.

Stay safe until next week.


We were still reeling from the sheer size of the Gold Buddha, these are a few pictures of the exterior of the building it’s housed in. Pure gold, can you imagine? You might expect it to be surrounded by armed guards, trip wires, mine fields and so on, but although it was out of reach on a huge platform, no one could lift it or remove it easily – even if it wasn’t a sacred monument.

A picture of the exterior of the building and the ceiling inside.

The Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn) is a Khmer style Buddhist temple on the west banmk of the Chao Phraya River and we went to Wat Po, the largest and oldest temple in Bankok also known as the birthplace of the traditional Thai massage.

The afternoon was spent at the Royal Grand Palace, the official residence of the kings of Siam (now Thailand) which is in the historic centre of the city since 1782.  The king and his court lived there until 1925. It was quite sparse inside, but interesting.

More pics of this next time.


Now I forgot to mention that Victoria, deprived of her favourite Lord M, was ripe for the picking and sneaky Albert had been well coached in her likes and dislikes and was ready to ingratiate himself.


To begin with he pretended to like dancing (he didn’t), he lied and told her he liked staying up late (he preferred early nights) and he was full of fun (he was a boring, lack lustre old fart).  But of course the stupid queen fell for him and the rest, as they say is history.

Stay safe till next week.