ONWARDS WITH THE BIG TRIP – VICTORIA’S FERTILITY

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.

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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.

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

IT’S MY EXPLANATION (AND I’M STICKING TO IT)

As one or two of you might know I used to work in the media, and I’ll never forget the awful day when the editor turned to me and asked what the next shot was. Now very few programmes are shot in order, you might even capture the final shot first. I looked down at the script and told him it was the guys climbing the pylon.

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“And the in and out points?” His fingers were poised over the controls. I checked the shot list, and then checked it again and again and again, panic rising, heart beat racing, I could even feel my blood pressure shooting skywards. But no, the shot wasn’t there. We had forgotten to film anyone even near the pylon, much less climbing it.

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I still shudder when I remember that moment, and from that day I meticulously made sure that every scene we ever needed was safely in the can.  Over the years I became more and more efficient and we were able to work faster and faster.  –  Patience, I’m coming to the point just now!

Then of course I retired (joke) and I began the book writing thing. My first book languished away on Amazon, picking up less than 2 dozen sales in the first year, until I discovered marketing, or rather the need to market. (Sad to remember I thought that people just ‘found’ books on Amazon and shot you to the heights of the best sellers). I ventured onto Facebook and a kind writer put up my web page and then I dipped my toe in the blog world.

So, blogs were a good way to chat to people. They give you more freedom than a short post on FB and trying to get much of a message out there about anything in less than 140 characters on Twitter was going to need a lot of practice.

So what could I write on my blog? I had no advice for anyone, I had used up most of my experiences in two more memoirs so I began to expand on my silly history of kings and queens of England based on a humorous lecture I’d given locally – entitled All the monarchs in 59 minutes and 3 seconds. It had taken me some time to write and it seemed daft not to use it as it would never see the light of day again.

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Then came the Big Trip and I really wanted to share this with the world, I was just blown away by the sights and sounds of the Far East. But, there was a problem, I was still fumbling my way through history, I’d only got as far as the Tudors. OK, I thought, I’ll combine them and do half of each.

I was still thinking how clever I was until a couple of writer friends pointed out at lunch yesterday that my blog is totally confusing. “You’re jumping around all over the place” they told me kindly. Readers don’t know what to expect!

Now, I’m getting to the point. It’s all in the planning. If only I could have my time over again for the last few years. For example, I would have realized that I needed to co-ordinate the covers on my Amie series – yes all series have matching covers I know that now – and it’s taking time and money to replace them all.

Amie covers right now – see not matching!

Even the cover of my first book was really amateurism, even though I was so proud of it at the time – and that’s now been changed 3 times.

I’ve learned that you need to build a platform of friends months before you even write Chapter One on the screen, and if you are even thinking of writing a book, practice Twitter, a basic graphics programme, familiarize yourself with analytics and how to format for the sales channels. It’s also helpful to find out how to convert your documents from one format to another, pdf, epub, mobi etc  and how to decide which blog host to choose and set up your page. You also need to suss out the promo sites and which ones give value for money and then there are the key words and the rankings and the … the list is endless. Dozens of people have written books about how to do all this, or whole books on only one topic of all the knowledge which will help you on your way to the top of the charts.

Of course I didn’t even know you had to plan, and let’s face it, often we are not sure what works if anything and to what extent.

The postscript to this is I’m afraid you will have to live with my lack of planning and suffer both the Big Trip and, currently, Queen Victoria a little longer. They will be back next week. We’re coming to the end of both topics and then I’ll be stuck!!

Now I’m sure you’ve noticed that I rarely push my books on here but I would like to mention my new monthly newsletter which will have news about my books and those of other people. Plus a downloadable back story to the Amie series, plus information about the pending court case (that is not serious). I hope I can find the sign up form here again, but if not, please leave a comment and I will happily add your name. Happy to cross promote with other authors, but to start with I am focusing on new releases and books with an African connection.

Oh, one final thing – my Goodreads giveaway is ending in 2 days – for 2 signed paperback copies posted worldwide. Here is the link. https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/217970-amie-an-african-adventure

Till next week.

BANKOK AND ALMOST THE END OF ESCORTED BIG TRIP

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.

HISTORICAL NONSENSE

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.

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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.

A FEW MORE TEMPLES ON THE BIG TRIP

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.

HISTORICAL RUBBISH

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.

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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.

AWARDS IN MIAMI

We finally fell back through our front door last Saturday night after a fantastic week in Florida. We were suffering a bit from jet lag, and DH brought an extra 5 million or so little visitors home too. As a result he’s been sleeping upright ever since. I’ve tried to tell him that’s a small price to pay for being married to an award winning author – he looked less than impressed.

“And a medal winning author at that!” I exclaimed waving the medal in his face. He grunted and reached for the tissues.

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Secretly I think he’s quite chuffed and I’m not only thrilled, I’m amazed and flattered and re-energized and I still can’t believe it. It’s such a thrill to think that faceless judges, half a world away, think my writing is worth awards.

A silver medal for Walking over Eggshells in the Inspirational category non fiction and an Honourable mention for Amie an African Adventure. (Personally I think the bright green sticker rf-aimie-1-hon-mention-low-resprettier than the silver one) but Honourable comes after bronze, so she did well too. (Probably much to Amie’s disgust as I shall certainly continue writing about her and putting her through even more horrendous situations).

We stayed at the hotel where the function was held and they ran a shuttle to the Miami Book Fair in downtown Miami. We met up with another writer who – now wait for this – used to teach at the same school in Benghazi, Libya as I had. How likely is that? To meet up in the United States – and as the school wasn’t all that large, there could only have been a couple of dozen teachers there at any one time at the most.

We both drooled at the Readers Favorite book display which was selling copies of our books for St Jude’s charity.

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And we also had them on display at the reception desk at the hotel. I threw in a few pens and they disappeared so fast!  (Several of the waiters had them stuffed in their pockets, but you never know, someone might look and log on and buy).

On the Fridbooks-at-hotel-deskay evening we sat and listened to several presentations from major players in the book industry, and I tried to get my head around how I can do all these sort of marketing things from rural Spain. Not so easy, there’s the language barrier for a start.

The event itself was great, with the presentation, the interviews and the pictures.

The extra cherry was talking to and interacting with other authors – book people who breathe, sleep, dream and obsess over books – just like me. Sometimes you sit and wonder who cares about books, with computer games and Xboxes and movies and other stuff like that for leisure time – but they are still out there!

I met authors from all over the world and we swapped information and ideas and networked liked crazy.

All in all a fabulous trip, made even better by travelling up to Tampa to stay with a reader I met on Facebook – who organized something very special for me, but more on that next week.

PS  I sneaked a pic of DH in there somewhere – did you notice?

As usual I got carried away while writing this and forgot to mention links to my books etc. So if you want to find out what all the fuss is about you may like to check out a few.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00E8HSNDW   Walking over Eggshells

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00LWFIO5K      Amie an African Adventure

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B015CI29O4       Amie and the Child of Africa

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M67NRG4   Amie Stolen Future

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00QE35BO2     Truth, Lies and Propaganda

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00VF0S3RG      More Truth, Lies and Propaganda

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01DPVB4M8                  Unhappily ever After

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!

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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.