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Monday, 19 May 2014

One book completed means three days off; then I start again.

Suddenly, if only briefly, I am free. After several long and intense days I had, by Saturday, got the ending in my sights. Sunday I got up at 0600h and by 1100h had completed the re-drafting, and a final read-through, of Mike Pannett’s childhood. 70,000 words (plus a bit). That left me three or four days for myself before we fly to France.

With the black-market-oil-dealer-and-occasional-drug-smuggler-memoir to start as soon as I return, this is very much what you’d call a window of opportunity. I need to make the best of it. So far I have formatted The Red House On The Niobrara and prepared that for publication as a hard copy paperback. It’s gone to amazon and the proof copy is already available for me to check. I guess I would do well to leave that until I get back from my holiday, rather than rush it.

I’m thinking of selling the book exclusively from home, mail order. I’d rather take a reasonable profit – and be able to offer the occasional discount – than settle for a measly 10% of the cover price, especially as amazon are still deducting 30% tax, despite my telling them over and over that I am exempt. I had another talk with the IRS today and may at last have cracked it. I suppose an alternative is to allow for sales through amazon and direct from me. I clearly have some thinking to do.

I’m hoping I can place an order for a single copy before I fly out, and that it will arrive by the time we return. Once that has been checked for errors, glitches and so on I’ll decide how many to order.

As well as that job I have been frantically busy in the vegetable garden. This has been the best spring we’ve had in a few years and everything is coming on very well. I may be able to post a few pictures tomorrow or Wednesday.

I’ve also been answering questions for a long (I mean long) interview that I’ve been conducting since about January. My buddy Jules Smith, poet and scholar, is interested in writing about a range of different writers and has been firing questions at me all year. My replies add up to about 15,000 words so far. I have no idea what he plans to so with the material.

I mentioned the next book project, for the ex-black marketer (above). Last week I went to Edinburgh to have lunch with him. I’m not sure that I can divulge his name at this stage. In fact, definitely not. He’s going to use an alias, Rob Stone. It was good to see the guy. He is immensely positive and cheery, despite some of the things that have happened to him: he ran away from an abusive home aged fifteen; was incarcerated in the U.S. after a fellow smuggler ratted on him, and saw his wife die of cancer when both their children were quite young. At one tome he was worth $100,000,000. By the time he got out of jail he had $50 in his pocket. This guy has been a delight to work with. Three or four years ago we put together a package about his smuggling career: a synopsis and sample chapters. Last year we repeated it with his black-market oil dealing in the Niger Delta, back in the `90s. Whenever I’m writing a scene I can email him and ask for some colour, a few facts or an anecdote or two. Back he comes, with little delay and with genuinely useful material. Would that all the subjects I’ve ghosted for were as easy.

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