Hello, and welcome to my blog. This is my first post.
You’ll find a bit about the reasons behind the blog, and about me and my writing, on the Home, About and The Books tabs on the menu, but I thought, in this first post, I’d give you a little more background about the reasons I decided to start a blog.
I began writing the Sturmtaucher Trilogy around six years ago. I was working full time as a mixed practice vet but, on average, I researched, planned, wrote or edited for about five hours every day until I retired from looking after the farm animals and pets of Girvan and the surrounding area in December 2021. From then until the last eBook was published in November of that year, I increased my time in front of my laptop to ten hours a day, working on getting the final edits done, formatting the eBooks and the paperbacks, making a website and putting together a trailer video for the first book, along with all the other tasks that needed to be done to self-publish a book, three times over.
I’d done little social media time during the five years prior to publication – writing had to take precedence or I would never have finished the trilogy. As I approached publication day for The Gathering Storm, the first book of the trilogy, I found I was spending and increasing amount of time on Twitter and Facebook, as reviews came in thick and fast from the wonderful blog tour organised by Anne Cater, and from the many lovely ARC readers and beta readers who had read the books prior to publication.
By early December, I’d spent tens of thousands of hours at my desk in my writing room and, although I’d loved almost every second of it, my mind was telling me that it had had enough. In addition, I had a project hanging over my head which now had real urgency.
When I retired in December 2021 and sold the remaining half of my veterinary practice, I knew I was losing my workshop, along with my woodstore and somewhere to keep my stock of old furniture, which was in a large shed adjacent to the surgery. Woodworking has been a passion of mine since childhood, a love inherited, along with their tools, from my father and grandfather. I had a year to find another workshop, convert it to my requirements, and move the mass of tools, equipment, wood and furniture that I had gathered over the years – I love recycling, so I collect and reclaim not only timber, but anything that I could conceivably use for furniture, or in the garden, or for house renovations.
I managed to find a barn to rent by late October so, after The Turn of the Tide eBook was published, and I waited for the paperback proofs to arrive, I took a few steps back from social media, cutting my interaction with Twitter and Facebook to around an hour a day, and knuckled down to a bit of hard physical graft. It was a joy to do something that made your muscles tired by the end of the day, and to use my hands.
I installed a large steel H-beam with three pillars, floored the loft and built a staircase. I rewired the barn, and plumbed in a outside tap, and installed all my benches, shelving the downstairs and upstairs areas to take all my tools and hardware. I built wood racks to store, for the first time in a truly organised manner, my wood stocks. I will be doing a post about the workshop and my woodworking in the near future, so please look back in on the blog, or subscribe, or sign up for my newsletter.
It’s almost complete, though I still have to repair and install a couple of woodworking machines that I inherited or bought second-hand, but by early February I realised that book sales were suffering by my neglect of the promotional side of self-publishing, something I find harder than writing the books in the first place.
I began a series of tweets and posts on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook; facts about the holocaust, pictures of Kiel, and a series of quotes I’d used as faceplates at the start of each year in the trilogy, from 1933 to 1945. I’m currently up to 1940. You may have seen them, and many thanks to those who have retweeted, liked or shared my content.
But I knew that it wasn’t enough, and I also wanted to give readers a bit more background to my life outside books, and what makes me tick, and to explore some of the issues raised by the books, the writing process, some of the amazing things I’d come across while researching, and a bit about my own likes, in books and films and perhaps even food.
Hence the blog.
I hope to post once a week, and to produce a newsletter three to four times a year. I hope some of you enjoy my musings, both those who have read the trilogy, or my other books, and those who I’d like to persuade to give them a try.
Thank you for reading. Stay well.