And so to shed…

shed view.jpgAs followers of this blog will know I am currently embroiled in a building project. It is proving to be a real time and energy black hole for me to the extent that I have not managed to find either of those most precious commodities, time and energy, for my writing since I’ve been back in the UK. This is becoming a bit of a worry seeing as writing is how I earn a crust these days. As any experienced self-publisher will tell you momentum is vitally important to keeping things going. Not to mention keeping the pennies rolling in.

As well as time and energy sucks, getting involved in a property project can also prove quite costly financially. I’m thinking of jacking in the writing completely and retraining as a plumber, or a plasterer, or a window fitter, or an electrician, or a kitchen fitter, or a carpenter, or a tree surgeon (I’d be surprised if brain surgeons are on that kind of money an hour). Oh well, in for a penny in for a small fortune. It’s only money, as my dear old dad used to say when he was selling copies of The Big Issue outside Woolworths.

Trouble is money’s what makes the world go round. (Or is it love?) Whatever, everything seems in short supply at the moment. My world is in danger of coming to a grinding halt on its fragile axis. What happens then? The only thing I’m qualified to do is teach primary school children – a sub-section of society my psychiatrist has expressed grave concerns regarding me having future dealings with.

This week some idiot, I forget who, suggested I should ‘do my finances’. This was after my debit card had been declined for the fourth time in an hour. I took this advice and yesterday my frail and aged mother found me curled up, sobbing in the corner of my writer’s retreat (aka the garden shed). Being old and frail didn’t stop her kicking me in the ribs with accompanying shouts to ‘man up’. (I’m glad she was wearing those novelty Minion slippers I gave her for her ninety-fifth birthday and not the hobnail boots she still insists on wearing to Tescos.)

The Fallen Agent(1)So here I am. Back at my desk in the shed. I was here yesterday, too. I’m working on The Fallen Agent. It’s written. I’m editing. I’m not only enjoying the read, I’m loving being back to what I do best: long periods of sitting on my arse, staring out of the window interspersed with brief and feverish hammerings at the computer keyboard.

I’ll be back at the money pit tomorrow, but for today I’m back living the dream.

Have a lovely Sunday, everyone. And if any of you still go to church, please include my name and the words ‘winning lottery ticket’ if you get to talk with the man upstairs today.Image result for shed quotes

 

A big thank you.

61xAN4mXj4L.jpgPoor Hands (Booker & Cash #3) came out last weekend. Initial feedback is encouraging. I’m sure I’m no different to any other writer in that I care what readers think of what I produce. I particularly care what my regular readers think of what I write, especially when it’s in a series. Part of the reason for this blog post is to offer my sincere thanks to all readers, old and new, who have downloaded a copy of Poor Hands. And if you’ve gone on to read and enjoy it all the better. And if you’ve then left a review on Amazon thank you again. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, it’s my opinion that writers are nothing without readers.

Amazon UK Amazon US

I’d also like to offer my thanks to a raft of book bloggers who took part in the book’s blog tour, organised by Bloodhound Books. Thank you for your time, trouble, kind words and mentions through your social media reaches.

These guys regularly and tirelessly help to promote new writing, often from lesser known authors like myself. Their social media sites are well worth checking out.

https://www.bitsaboutbooks.net/poor-hands-oliver-tidy/

https://readingconfessionsblog.wordpress.com/2017/07/11/poor-hands-by-oliver-tidy/

https://booksfromdusktilldawn.blog/2017/07/12/poor-hands-by-oliver-tidy-a-booker-cash-story-blog-tour-olivertidy-bloodhoundbook/

http://lifeofanerdishmum.blogspot.co.uk/2017/07/poor-hands-by-oliver-tidy-extract.html

https://booksaremycwtches.wordpress.com/2017/07/13/blog-tour-review-poor-hands-by-oliver-tidy/

https://donnasbookblog.wordpress.com/2017/07/13/my-review-of-poor-hands-by-oliver-tidy/

https://cancersuckscouk.ipage.com/blogtour-review-poor-hands-by-oliver-tidy-bloodhoundbook-olivertidy/

https://myeclecticreads.wordpress.com/2017/07/14/blog-tour-poor-hands-by-oliver-tidy/

http://www.salsworldofbooks.co.uk/blog-tour-poor-hands-oliver-tidy/

https://bytheletterbookreviews.com/2017/07/15/poor-hands-by-oliver-tidy-blogtour/

https://thequietgeordie.wordpress.com/2017/07/16/blog-tour-poor-hands-by-oliver-tidy-review-olivertidy-bloodhoundbook-sarahhardy681/

https://chocolatenwaffles.com/2017/07/16/poor-hands-by-oliver-tidy-olivertidy-bloodhoundbook-blogtour/

https://seansbookreviews.com/

http://www.bookstormer.co.uk/

I’ve been back home on Romney Marsh for a little over a month. I haven’t written anything new because I’ve taken on a house renovation project. That is taking up all my days and leaving me too tired to do anything remotely thoughtful or creative in the evenings. I can’t see it being sorted anytime soon. I’ve also bought myself a big telly and subscribed to Netflix, which together are proving something of a distraction. It’s too easy to spend my downtime vegging out on the sofa.

The stable.jpg

I’m taking a day off from all that today. I’m trying out my new writer’s space – The Stable. (A garden shed was good enough for Roald Dahl, George Bernard Shaw and many other famous writers to work in.)

Some of you may remember seeing photos of this under construction last summer. I couldn’t have made it without my little helper.

 

 

I’m sitting in it now. It has a good ‘feel’. It’s quiet – peaceful. There is birdsong, and fresh air and light. Every now and again the little trains on the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch railway can be heard chuffing along the tracks not far away and the breeze is carrying the smell of the engines’ burning coal in through the open window. I am comfortable here. Time to make time for writing again.

The Fallen Agent(1)

 

First up is a  book I managed to finish in its first draft before I left Turkey. It’s called The Fallen Agent. It’s not in one of my series. It’s another story that was suggested to me from an episode of Spooks. (This one is a full-length novel.) I’ll be easing myself back into my writer’s groove with a read-through and an edit. After that I intend to crack on with Booker & Cash #4. I always feel closer to those two and their unfolding journey when I’m back on The Marsh.

 

The end of another chapter.

My work space, with art gallery courtesy of my lovely little chap.

In the summer of 2009 I moved to Istanbul in Turkey to start a new job – teaching English as a foreign language to young Turkish learners. I was forty-six. Bar a year in New Zealand, I’d lived my whole life on Romney Marsh and I couldn’t wait to escape. I’d only been hanging on there until my two children became legal adults – old enough to look after themselves. (That was the idea.) I’d been a qualified primary school teacher for seven years but I’d had enough of that. I was looking for change, some adventure, a bit of excitement. So I got interviewed for a job in Istanbul. I treated it as a warm-up excercise. They offered me the position. It would have been rude to say no. And that is where Oliver Tidy the writer found his mojo.

I’m not one of those who’s wanted to write since I was in nappies. But I’ve loved books and reading for as long as I can remember and I think for a lot of people like that it’s only a matter of time before they want to have a go themselves. I’d tried in the UK but with all the distractions of family, property, work, women, motorbikes, television and booze it had never happened for me. In Istanbul I suddenly found myself responsibility and distraction free. The only people I knew were the people I worked with. A little flat came with the job. Work was a doddle. I didn’t understand a word of the language, so no television. I still had beer and women issues – some things will never change, but there are worse things in life.

I said work was a doddle and it really was. It wasn’t just the teaching hours (half the number I’d been doing in the UK). The organisation I was employed by took care of everything for us. Foreigners were treated like royalty. That’s how it felt. I needed something to do. I started writing. Mostly, I was writing at school in my free hours. I had a lot of free hours.

I worked at that school for the next five years. Writing went from an interest to a compulsion, something addictive. I’d written four or five books before I decided to self-publish. Being a bibliophile I wanted nothing more than to see my name in print. I tried rather half-heartedly to get a literary agent but I had no patience for it and to be honest the more I found out the more I came to realise I had a greater chance of pissing into a gale force wind and remaining dry. I didn’t want to self-publish. I saw that as a kind of vanity publishing. I was wrong. Very wrong. Self-publishing is brilliant and liberating. It can also be quite lucrative.

So I took the plunge – I put some of my books on Smashwords. I gave them away for free because I just wanted to know what readers thought. I craved feedback from people who didn’t know me. Most of it was encouraging. Then I got into Amazon. It’s a bit of a cliché but, I never looked back after that.

I kept up the day job and I kept writing in my free time and the evenings. And I kept self-publishing on Amazon.

In 2014 I moved schools. I was still in Istanbul. And I was still able to write.

After a year there I moved to Ankara. Did I mention I’d got married to a Turk and we’d had a child? Ankara is where the inlaws lived. My price for the move was that I wouldn’t get a day job – I’d have a year and see if I could make a go of  writing as a full-time occupation.

That was two years ago. I’m still writing. I ‘work’ more hours in the day now than I have in any other job I’ve ever had. But that’s because I love my ‘work’.

I’ve written nineteen books . (The last two are not ready for the outside world yet.) Self-publishing has been good to me. I have some fantastic readers. They have been very generous, supportive, helpful and kind. I will be forever grateful to my readers because without readers writers are nothing. I believe that. Without readers I would not have had the encouragement or the income to live the dream. And that’s what I’ve been doing for the last two years.

That’s all coming to a close now. By this time tomorrow I’ll be back living on Romney Marsh full-time. I’m looking forward to it. I really am. Romney Marsh IS home and I’ve missed it and the UK. My writing will have to take a back seat for I don’t know how long. I’ve got to prioritise. Somewhere habitable to live is at the top of the list. And then there are all those old distractions and responsibilities.

I have ideas for future stories. Long and short. Of my three series I shall continue with the Booker & Cash. I’ve been experimenting with other things and I shall continue to do so. I’ve decided that my writing is driven these days by ideas and mood. If I get an idea for a story that I can’t resist and I’m in the mood for it that’s what I’m throwing myself into, doesn’t matter about the genre. I’ve also got a locked room mystery that I know is original and I’m itching to write it. (Every mystery writer wants to write a locked room mystery.) I’ve got a book in what Margaret Atwood calls the ‘speculative fiction genre’ (I really like that) and a spy thriller both finished in first drafts that I need to attend to. Then I think it will back to Booker & Cash #4. I’ve made a good start on that.

I’ve had a great run. I have lots of fantastic memories. I’ve enjoyed my eight years in Turkey. The country might be going to hell in a handcart, propelled along by an autocratic, ego maniac bedazzled with dreams of becoming the next leader of the reincarnation of the Ottoman empire but the ordinary people here are lovely, warm, generous, and good-hearted. In eight years I’ve only ever been treated with kindness and friendliness by every Turk I’ve met. That goes for strangers too.

My last blog post from Turkey would not be complete without one more mention. It’s more of a dedication, actually. To my closest friend throughout my time here. My constant companion. For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part. Hardly a day has gone by that we have not been intimate with each other. It’s not always been easy but we’ve struggled through the highs and lows, the thick and thin together. We’ve shared everything: tears of joy, tears of sadness, hope, despair, love, hate, even body fluids. We’ve made love together, we’ve killed people together, we’ve committed heinous crimes, righted wrongs and been all over the world together, we are privy to each other’s deepest, darkest secrets. There is nothing about each other that we do not know or understand. I’m talking about my laptop.

I bought my Dell Inspiron just before I came to Turkey. I’ve written nineteen books, hundreds of blog posts, thousands of emails, comments, Tweets, Facebook posts. (Not forgetting five years of school work.) Millions and millions of words on it. It is no exaggeration to say that I’ve poured my heart soul into this piece of electrical hardware and it has never let me down. Not once. It’s getting old. The fan is always on. It gets hot and bothered. It can be cranky and slow to wake up in the mornings. (This is starting to sound like me.) But it keeps going. Last year I bought a new laptop back from the UK (of course it’s another Dell) because I thought this one was on its last legs but it’s kept going and the new one is still in its box.

I feel some regret that something which has played such an important role in my life has got to go back to the UK in the hold of the plane. I don’t know if it will survive that experience, those temperatures, the rough handling. Whatever happens, I’ll never throw it away. Even if it stops working I’ll keep it on display somewhere. It is among my most treasured possessions for what we’ve been through together. My dearest Dell, I love you. I couldn’t have done it without you.

My final published thought from Turkey chimes with something DC Grimes said in Joint Enterprise (The Third Romney and Marsh File). I remember thinking of myself (again) when I wrote it. My time abroad has provided me the opportunity to walk Grimes’ talk. Storytelling is one of the richest, most enduring and most celebrated cultural elements in the shared history of humankind. I’m both happy and proud to be a stain (?) on a tradition I love, something that will survive long after I’m gone and probably until the last human being drops down dead.

‘We’re all going to die. Most of us will leave no mark of our existence behind whatsoever. Not a stain or a smudge or a smear on the face of history. I think that’s sad. If I can be part of something that survives long after I’m dead then I’ll have achieved a form of immortality. I’d like that.’

DC Grimes, Joint Enterprise

And the winner is…

hearty picAs promised, this evening we made the draw to see who would win a signed copy of The Crime Writer and Other Stories. All the names went into one of my son’s caps and he drew one out. Fair and square. Before I reveal the name of the ‘lucky’ winner I’d like to say again how honestly appreciative I am of all those who not only downloaded and read the book, but also went that extra mile and posted a review on one of the Amazon sites. I truly wish I could afford to send everyone a copy of the book for their support. Thank you.

I honestly believe that the number and average rating of reviews the book received will encourage Amazon to take a look at it when they’re considering things but a cursory glance is probably all it will get. Over 2600 books were entered in the Kindle Storyteller competition (that’s a lot of books) and a lot of them will be a lot better than mine. Also, being realistic, short story compilations are never going be a match for a well-crafted full-length novel in a writing competition. There just isn’t the interest in short stories – I’ve heard that a lot lately. Shame. I love shorts and I think they have a lot to offer readers.

Anyone interested can see the full list of entries here Kindle Storyteller Entries

So, if you see your name in the image below, and you want that book, please get in touch in the next week at olivertidy@yahoo.co.uk and it will be my pleasure to get it in the post to you when I’m back in the UK (11th June onwards.)

Congratulations! 🙂

Pat

The last chance and the last dance.

The Crime Writer and other storiesLast Chance!

Tomorrow is the closing day of the Amazon Storyteller competition that I entered my book The Crime Writer and Other Stories into. Amazon will be looking at the usual suspects when judging the entries: sales, quality of the writing, sales, potential for more sales,  popularity, sales, feedback, sales, that kind of thing. If anyone reading this has downloaded the book (thank you) read it (thank you) and hasn’t left an honest review yet and feels like doing so, tomorrow is the last chance. Once again, sincere thanks to all those who have supported me in this. I really appreciate it.

hearty pic

Everyone who leaves feedback on any Amazon site will be put into the draw to  Win a signed copy! I said I’d make that draw on the weekend but I forgot I’m away. We’ll make the draw on Monday and I’ll post news of the ‘lucky’ winner.

I should point out that I’m not back in the UK until 11th June. That week is the earliest I can sign and send the book.

For anyone who reads this post today and wants to throw themselves off a tall building because they’ve missed their chance, it’s not too late! Ebook links are below. There’s still time to download it, read it (if you stay up all night) and leave a comment. The book is just 99p/$1.28. After the weekend it will go up to £1.99 and US dollar equivalent. Amazon UK Amazon US

I want to mention Bloodhound Books. Bad Sons was re-published by them last week and all this week Bloodhound have been pushing the book on all the usual social media outlets. They’ve done a lot of work. I appreciate it.

Last Dance

And so to the last dance. This weekend is my last chance of a last dance with Istanbul. As mentioned above I’m back in th UK on the 11th June. Permanently. It’s only just over three weeks away. While I’m looking forward to that it’s going to be the end of an era. My fondest memories of my time in Turkey are from Istanbul. I’m heading back there for a long weekend to revisit some good memories and some old haunts and to say goodbye to somewhere it’s unlikely I’ll visit again.

https://i0.wp.com/www.telehouse.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/bst-Istanbul.jpg