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.

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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.

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Bad Sons (Booker & Cash #1)

bad sons bh.jpg

Today is the day that Bad Sons (Booker & Cash #1) is officially re-released by Bloodhound Books. They’ve given it a new cover which is great. What’s also great is that the book is available in paperback for the very first time.

I appreciate that many of you will already have read this one. For anyone who hasn’t and is interested, the ebook is currently on offer £0.99 at Amazon UK and $1.29 at Amazon US

Bloodhound have organised a blog tour for the book’s re-release. Never had something like that before.

Bad Sons blog tour banner

The Crime Writer and other stories

 

Just a week to go before the Amazon Storyteller competion closes. Sincere thanks to all who have supported me in this. I’m always really touched that I have so many supportive readers. If anyone is interested in going into the draw for a signed copy of the book I entered please see here. Win a signed copy!

Lots of images this week. Last but not least the line up for the evening I’m attending with the other hounds from Bloodhound Books. It’s a ticketed event but they are free and need to be booked online. More info on tickets at the Bloodhound Books website.

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Win a signed copy of my latest book!

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Photo credit – my sister 🙂

I’ve entered my latest book, The Crime Writer and Other Stories, into Amazon’s storyteller competition. More on all that here if you haven’t seen anything about it. (Where have you been?) Amazon Storyteller

As I’ve mentioned before, getting some feedback up on Amazon is going to be an important factor for those judging the competition. I’ve had some comments posted by readers and so far they are very encouraging. Before I say anything else I would like to thank each and every one of you sincerely for your time and trouble to post feedback. Your ongoing support is much valued and appreciated.

To be eligible for entry into the competition entrants must have both ebooks and  physical books available to purchase. Because of that condition I organised the availablity of paperback copies of the book. And, of course, seeing as I’d gone to all that trouble I caved in and ordered a couple for myself and posterity. Like you do. They’ve arrived and they look good. They smell nice, too.

Seeing the physical books gave me an idea. To encourage readers who might not ordinarily be inclined to leave feedback on Amazon I thought I could provide an incentive. I thought I could use one of the paperback copies to that end.

So here’s what I’ve come up with. The Amazon competition closes on May 19th. On May 20th I’ll put all the names of readers who have left a comment on either Amazon UK or Amazon US into a ‘hat’ and get my five year old son to pick out one of them. That ‘lucky’ reader will receive a signed copy of The Crime Writer and Other Stories. I’ll even pay for the postage. If I get a combined total of more than fifty comments on both Amazons I’ll give away two signed copies. If I get a hundred I’ll walk the length of Dymchurch high street wearing nothing but my boxers while reading from the book (anything Lineker can do) and then give away three signed copies.

I’ll post the comment(s) that won the book in a blog post and the lucky reader(s) will have one week to get in touch with me with their address. (It’s quite possible that  someone who leaves a comment on Amazon doesn’t read my blog or know anything about me or my entry into the Amazon competition. If that’s the case I have no assured way of getting in touch with them. So I’ll make it a condition that the winner has to respond through the blog with proof of purchase. If I’ve heard nothing in a week, we’ll draw again and so on.)

If nothing else these books will have novelty value because currently there are no physical copies of any of my books anywhere in the world – I haven’t done the paperback thing before. (Personal reasons.) Maybe they’d be worth something on Ebay 🙂 (Maybe I should try Ebay with one of them.)

It’s not too late to grab a copy, read it and honestly review it. Links here: Amazon UK Amazon US  Remember closing dates for everything is May 19th. 🙂

A big thank you!

The Crime Writer Best SellerA short post to say thank you very much to everyone who has supported me through downloads and post shares relating to my latest book. Last night I went to bed a nobody. This morning I’m an Amazon Bestseller.

It’s all in a good cause. Please see here for more information on that Amazon Storyteller. And there is still time to grab a copy, read and honestly review it before the Amazon Storyteller competition ends on the 19th May.

Thanks again.