A Train, a Bus, a Bedroom, a Balcony, a Dog

I need somewhere new to live. Or rather I will soon. In a past life (one that ended in 2008) I was an estate agent in Spain. During that time I caught the property bug and now I enjoy one of the things I hated most when I was a child: looking at houses.

The other things I hated most included looking at antique furniture or – while on holiday in Turkey – looking at Persian rugs. Seriously, who wants to spend their weekend/holiday doing that?

But I digress.

Property search used to be mainly about price. And staying away from the neighbour where people sold drugs out the window.

Now it’s all about compromise.

If we leave the amazing location, the daily commute will involve a train and a bus for my son and fighting my way through a hell of a lot more traffic for me.

If we stay in the amazing location, I’ll probably lose my bedroom. Back to a sofa bed in the living room. I thought I was past that stage…

We also may not get a balcony. I really want a balcony. Perfect to sit outside and read in the summer.

But we may get a dog. That might be the deal breaker.

So it’s not really about the property. It’s about trying to decide and plan the next few years. Finding out what is important and what kind of life I want.

One of those easy, every day things that can be accomplished quickly without any drama.

Yeah, right.

Maybe I’ll just read a book for a while instead. Or keep writing and hope that this one will appeal to an literary agent. Or to Mandy and her bookclub. That would be fantastic.

The Beatles, Amazon, Disruption

When I was twelve my parents thought it would be good to move to the country. As a consequence of that, I started spending most Saturday mornings in the local library. Meanwhile, my parents braved the usual hungry hordes in the supermarket opposite to stock up on food for the week. After weeks of skirting around it, I decided to read Når snerlen blomstrer by Bjarne Reuter. He’s been my favourite author since the creepy school librarian introduced me to him when I was eight. That was the book that introduced me to The Beatles. For all that we often listened to 60s music in the car, The Beatles were never on the soundtrack.

But from that day it changed.

While my friends listened to Nirvana and headbanged their way through the early 90s, I collected Beatles albums on vinyl. (I didn’t get a CD player until 92.) They shook their heads at my lame taste in music and I learned that my father’s favourite Beatles song was Paperback Writer and my uncle’s was Penny Lane. Ever since my uncle died, I smile and think of him when I hear it.

But Paperback Writer

It’s a wonderful song.

Dear Sir or Madam

Would you read my book?

It took me years to write

Will you take a look?

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Maybe I haven’t been very successful at getting Dear Sir or Madam at the literary agencies to read my book, but real readers are reading it. Today I read a new review on Amazon; a wonderful woman named Mandy got her bookclub to read it. I can’t even begin to describe how incredible that feels. (Thinking about it, a writer probably should never say that she can’t describe something.)

This week my book – the very first paperback edition – arrived on my doorstep. My words in print. Something I can put on my shelf. Sometimes I just stare at it. A paperback. Which makes me a paperback writer. In some shape or form.

I remember when self-publishing was something to be slightly ashamed of. Whenever you mentioned doing it, people looked at you like you were getting your book churned out by children in slave labour camps who were forced to chop down trees in subzero temperatures.

But then there was Amazon. Just like über disrupted publishing and Airbnb disrupted the hotel industry, Amazon changed the way we can publish books. Perhaps some people will still think it’s an awful book, but people think some traditionally published books are awful. Perhaps I’ll never see my book on a shelf in an airport. But Mandy made her bookclub read it and they enjoyed it. Right now I couldn’t ask for anything more.

I always did like Amazon.

 

 

The Writer in the Airport

Yesterday I flew out of Copenhagen Airport. Lovely place.

I like to take my time when I travel, make sure I get to the airport early and don’t stress about transport delays, security queues, all those other things that can potentially make you miss your flight. Plus it’s good to have a little time to myself to wander through the various shops, sip coffee and read a book.

It’s painful to wander through the four bookshops in the airport.

Why?

Because seeing all those books there makes me so sorry that so many other things interfere with writing. You know, like my full-time job, the need to pay bills, buy food etc. Any author’s usual dilemma.

But it’s good pain. Positive pain.

The pain tells me I am passionate about what I do. It tells me that writing is still a dream I’m chasing. Even though the as-an-author-you-must-be-social-on-twitter-and-facebook-24-7 nearly killed the last spark of passion. It tells me I am heading down the right path.

Because one day I want to see one of my books in one of those four bookshops. I want to see people picking it up before they get on a plane. Even at the ridiculously high prices Denmark charges for books.

While I was wandering through the airport busy with all those thoughts, I sold two books.

An excellent motivator.

Bon voyage!

The Waiting Game

Guess what! Guess what!

Yesterday did become Paperback Publication Day.

After all those failed attempts, all that wailing and rending of garments, I finally produced a version that Amazon accepted for publication.

I will be able to hold my book in my hands. I will be able to sit with my tea/latte/glass of wine and read my book on something that is not electronic. Something where I can turn pages, put bookmarks in it. When spring comes, people can sit with it in parks or lie with it on the beach.

My book!

Then came Part One Waiting : Amazon had to approve.

That woke me up at 4 a.m.

They told me the book was available, they even sent me a link. It looked like it was now for sale!

And there was much rejoicing.

Then I checked during the day … Several times. Obviously I need a copy to put on my shelf and also check to see what it looks like.

Nothing.

Nothing again.

Coming home, I remembered that Amazon emails need to be read with a magnifying glass and Sherlock Holmes by your side.

Congratulations, the paperback edition of your book “Chocolates in the Ocean” is live in the Amazon Store. It is available* for readers to purchase here. If you have republished your book, your changes are now live.

* There’s a clue in the somewhere

Ah yes, there it is …

*Please note that your paperback’s product description may take 24-48 hours to appear on its Amazon detail page

So I wait. And wait again.

I would love to met the people who write emails for Amazon.

But I’m sitting here with a smile on my face. I’ll get to buy my book. That’s worth a glass of champagne.

Chocolates in the Ocean

Could Today Be Paperback Publication Day?

I got my A – Z back.

Z now works so I no longer have to copy/paste if I want to write “lazy” instead of “lay.”

So far so good.

So far my plan to publish my book in paperback form has

a) crashed

b) burned

Mainly because each time I uploaded the manuscript, Amazon kept telling me there was only one page to it. One page instead of two-hundred-and-eighty-one.

281. 

I tried converting to Word from Pages.

I tried going from Word to Word on a PC not a Mac.

Still the same.

So tonight I’m trying the PDF version.

Here we go …

Oh my god I think it might actually work!

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Life Without A – Z

 

This morning I woke up early and lay in bed reading. Some many wonderful things you can do when you don’t have to get up, make up and go to the office. For at least the fifth time I was reading The Negotiator by Frederick Forsyth. My favourite line in there has to be:

People make allowances for writers, as for all other lunatics.  

We are a little nuts. We get up at weird hours to create make-believe worlds and the people who live in them. We jot down random sentences on rouge bits of paper and scatter notebooks through every room in our homes. Our most prized possession is that beautiful piece of technology that allows us to tap tap tap out those worlds. Often sitting in our dressing gowns, morning latte by our sides, while the rest of the house still sleeps soundly.

And it’s incredibly difficult to do all those things when you don’t have that wonderful piece of technology. When you have to beg, borrow or steal someone else’s. When you can’t tap tap tap out anything because you have nothing to tap tap tap on. When every email sends you rushing to your phone because today might be the day you get it back.

Life without “z” was difficult enough. Life without everything from a – z is so much worse.

Having finally decided to go for that writing project I was feeling skeptical about, it’s very frustrating to now not be able to get started. Or perhaps it’s a sign that I made the wrong decision.

Unless I get my A – Z back soon, I may never know.

 

Life Without z

I lost my z this afternoon.

On my keyboard. I press it and absolutely nothing happens.

I’m getting it now by copying and pasting. Then sometimes it randomly appears. Just in case I had forgotten about it and begun to move on.

There’s either a leprechaun without a calendar living under my keyboard or a ghost. Or it’s just annoying.

I press “s” and a “z” shows up behind it.

But as my son says, how many times do you really need “z”?

Well, every time I make some lay … sorry la – cmd+V – y. Lazy.

At least I spell like an English person and don’t use -ize as my suffix.

I know in the great scheme of things life without “z” is not that big a deal. But at the moment I’m struggling with whether or not to continue a project. A writing project.

I’m trying to listen to my instincts, my gut feeling, my reason. No, not reaszon (where did that come from?!) I’m making long lists with pros and cons, trying to convince myself I should do something that deep down I just don’t think I want to do.

Do you ever do that?

Reaszon (what the …?!) yourself into doing something because it’s sensible and you feel like you should. You’d be missing out if you didn’t. But deep down your heart just isn’t in it.

Maybe that’s it. If the heart isn’t in it, how will it ever be great and memorable and worthwhile?

On the other hand, I read once that Louisa May Alcott wrote Little Women just for the money and that has certainly touched many people’s hearts.

Heartz.

Maybe my computer is telling me to hold off the decision by making it impossible for me to use it without getting frustrated.

Maybe the machines are taking over the world.

One z at a time.