ALMOST THE END OF BIG TRIP GUIDED TOUR – ON AND ON WITH VICTORIA

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. http://amzn.to/2ieb5zo

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 🙂

THE HISTORY RUBBISH

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!)

TRY TO IMAGINE THE NAUSEOUS PICTURE HERE

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.

BERTIE SAILOR OUTFIT

 

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.

THE BIG TRIP AND THAT WOMAN – AGAIN!

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).

TRAVEL BIT

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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ADVERTISING BIT

If you would like to receive my monthly newsletter just click on this link, books, interviews, back stories, special offers and more. http://eepurl.com/cBu4Sf  amie-back-story-v2-1

 

 

HISTORICAL BIT

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!

VIC FAMILY 1846

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.

 

 

 

PLEASE DON’T BE MY FRIEND

The other day I posted the following on my Facebook Timeline.

Dear Prospective Face Book Friend, I do understand that you may be looking for pen pals and maybe even a romantic connection, especially if you are posted abroad in a war zone. However, despite this being a public page, I use it to chat to my reader and writer friends and exchange hints, reviews, and other marketing information. So it’s probably not the kind of page you are looking for – besides, I’m a happily married grandmother, who’s rapidly losing the wrinkle war. I hate to decline friends, so I hope you’ll understand and not make a friend request.

Yes, I know I come across as hard, overbearing and pretty unpleasant, but I’m really a softie inside and I don’t like to refuse a friendship, my page is public after all. The problem is, I don’t like to be rude or offend, but then (like many of us) I get bombarded with virtual roses and bottles of drink and even more flowery comments.

I was also hoping my post would deter the ones from humans who, deep down, may not be genuinely interested in me and my books. For example I had one who asked me what I was wearing. Ah, I thought, s/he was curious about writers and their habits, so I told it (with a name like Alex it wasn’t easy to tell). I’m sitting here I wrote in my usual creative gear, IMG_0726my fluffy red and white pyjamas liberally adorned with red reindeer and Xmas trees (I bought them around Christmas time) under my red furry dressing gown with the rabbit on the pocket, a pair of free airline socks and my favourite reindeer slippers. (They may be mooses, I’m not quite sure).

I was then treated to a picture of my new friend. S/he wasn’t wearing very much at all and what s/he was wearing defied comprehension.  DELETE! DELETE! DELETE!

So with the very best intentions, I hoped my post would not subject me to such heart-stopping shocks, (it’s not good to call the paramedics in too often), this post will do the trick I thought.

Sure enough a few minutes later I got a friend request from a dear little granny living in France. She looked so cute and cuddly, grey wavy hair, delightful smile, pretty dress. Great, I thought another fan friend who has heard about my brilliant books and can’t wait to read them, she might even buy one, or two, or three, or four. I cheerfully pressed accept and said how happy I was to connect with her.

In just a couple of minutes she private messaged me, telling me how thrilled she was to be my friend. She lives in France, and she was dying of cancer. How sad I thought, my fingers were poised to send her virtual hugs, hearts and kisses.  She was a widow previously married to an English entrepreneur, (I hadn’t noticed at this point she had a German surname) and he had been killed in a car crash with their only daughter. I reached for my hanky

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and upped my mental reply to include a bunch of virtual roses (I was trying to decide if a bottle of plonk would be suitable as well in this instance). She continued by telling me she had 10.5 million Euro in the bank and if I promised to donate it to various charities….I could keep 20% for myself.

I groaned. Yes, it’s what we called in South Africa a 411 letter – they want your name, bank account number, the date you stopped being breast fed, your inside leg measurement and all your pin numbers.

What a disappointment. Off I go to Facebook to do the blocking and reporting thing – DELETE! DELETE! DELETE!  But FB do send you a nice apology don’t they – saying they’re sorry you’ve been subjected to this.

They can’t still be catching people out with this scam surely? Did s/he think I was born yesterday? Well maybe looking at my avatar…?

Now the big question of course is, she’s given me her private email address, so do you think I can add it to my Mailchimp list so she’ll get my monthly newsletter? I’m a bit worried she might unsubscribe.

You can subscribe if you like http://eepurl.com/cBu4Sf

SUMMER PALACE AYUTTHAYA THAILAND

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.

VICTORIAN ENGLAND

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.

spinning-jenny

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

nike-factories

.. 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.

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.

edit-studio-sabccrew-shot-0343

“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.

1066-kings-and-queens

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.

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.

albert

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.

PLOUGHING ON THROUGH THE FAR EAST

We landed in Bangkok on 2nd February. Honestly their idea of a 3 star rating hotel would equal about 15 star in Europe, it was amazing. Once again we were upgraded to a deluxe suite, not sure why, but we were not going to complain.

Our guide took us to the following places and I’m not sure now which is which. Yes I’m ashamed to admit it but I didn’t want to spend all my time writing stuff down as I had in the past, but use my eyes to wonder, gape, drool and take it all in. There was so much to see, so many details, and we moved at such a fast pace to get it all in that it would be either the pictures or the script, and the photos won. We visited Wat Traimit, Wat Arun (Dawn Temple) and Wat Po.

Wat Traimit is the temple of the golden Buddha, famous for its 900 year old five and a half ton solid gold image of the Buddha. This week I am just going to post ONLY pictures of this as it just takes your breath away.

It was impossible to get it all in in one shot. I just love the one where they are working on the feet, using Mother of Pearl, as the man was showing us.

HISTORY NONSENSE

Now I could write a book about Queen Victoria, but I don’t like her enough and I would probably be very rude. Before Christmas I left her slobbering over Lord Melbourne, but her Uncle Leopold (the Belgium king who annexed the Belgian Congo as an extension to his back garden) and various other members of the family had other ideas. this is his photo.leopold-of-belgium

Of course they wanted to bring in a German suitor on the excuse that he would be Protestant and not a Catholic. (Frankly by now I’m sure Henry VIII wouldn’t have minded too much). Enter Albert (yeuk), the one with no sense of humour and every intention of being king.

This time he did the slobbering to get the young queen’s attention and it wasn’t too long before they were an item, frequently seen at the local bowling alley on a Friday night.

Till next week, stay safe.