Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Unknown on Unbound

It's not easy as a relative unknown on Unbound. Although there are a few of us on the site, there are plenty more Unbound authors who come to crowdfunding with an armful of loyal readers or viewers or fans. (Terry 'He's not The Messiah' Jones, Raymond 'The Snowman' Briggs to name but two. You get the picture.)

What this seems to mean so far is this: the majority of people who have supported my book seem to know me in some way. They're friends, family, colleagues, ex-students, acquaintances and so on. Some - blog readers, for instance, or that select group of fans of my first novel - know, or have a reasonable expectation, of what they're getting by way of my writing (or they hope they do!). Others  - an increasing number of strangers, unfamiliar names on the supporters list - are taking a chance on the strength of the extract they can read on the Unbound website, or the video introduction.

As things stand I need a further 273 more pledges to get The Glorious Dead published. That sounds a lot, but if there aren't at least 273 people out there who are interested enough in the subject and keen enough on the project to take a punt on it then I'll happily eat one of the war medals I'm offering as a rewards for one of the pledges.

It's finding these people that is going to be the next challenge.

And that is where you come in. Because it seems reasonable, given that so many, so far, of the supporters are people I know that they - you - might be able to enlist the help of the remaining 273 subscribers that the book needs. You know me, know my writing, know how passionate I am about this subject and how desperate I am to tell the forgotten story of the soldiers who stayed in France and Flanders, finding bodies and digging graves and rebuilding lives shattered by the Great War.
I reckon if everyone who has pledged so far or everyone who reads this post could put in a good word with someone else we'd be up and running in no time. So if you can think of someone please consider telling them. Let word-of-mouth be my marketing. And let's hope that, before too long, it's no longer a case of 'unknown' on Unbound - but unleashed!

If you'd like to find out more about my novel The Glorious Dead and perhaps support its publication, please click here:

Monday, 13 June 2016

52 Days of Dad

Father’s Day draws nigh (it's next Saturday, folks!) and Young Dads Collective (the charity that works to reduce levels of poverty and isolation experienced by young dads) is launching its 52DaysofDad campaign.

The aim is to raise awareness of young dads (those aged 25 and under) who are among the most isolated and economically deprived parenting groups in the UK. To do this they're hoping to reach a wider audience by celebrating dads of all ages who love spending quality time with their children.

They've compiled an exciting pack of 52 free and fun activities to do with children - one for every week of the year so the adventures will never stop! Activities range from having a picnic, building a blanket fort, dressing up, baking a cake and trying out new fruits and vegetables. But the activity that appealed especially to us was looking at old photos and talking about them.

We spent half-term in France and Charlie and Eloise came with me on a tour of the Somme battlefields. While Eloise is still a little young to appreciate events, I'm keen that Charlie understands and (in spite of the weather) he took a real interest. So when we got home I showed him this...

There, at the bottom of the middle column is the only photo the family has of Great Uncle Will - inspiration (in part) for my latest novel The Glorious Dead - who fought and died on the Western Front.

The feature - from the Daily Mirror of November 1917 - reports the award of a bar to the DSM (Distinguished Service Medal) that Uncle Will won earlier in the war. (He also won the Military Medal and was clearly a brave soldier.)

Uncle Will died of wounds on May 19th 1918 and is buried at Etaples Military Cemetery. Charlie was very keen to visit the grave. Unfortunately, there wasn't time on this occasion but we'll certainly make sure we stop by next time we're in France.

Until then, there are his medals, as well as wonderful, fragile embroidered postcards sent back from the Front, and photos of the cemetery and of his grave.

And there are the wonderful conversations, questions and investigations they provoke. With Charlie, so often, one thing leads to another and he is soon brimming with ideas and comments as well as questions and observations.

Just one of our #52DaysofDad...

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Ready for Father's Day next Sunday?

It's Fathers Day next Sunday, folks! 

If you're stuck for something to buy, here's an idea. Why not get dad's name in my new book? He could be 'mentioned in dispatches' as part of the story. 

Or maybe you'd like to see his name in print on page one as a patron? 

For the next six pledges I'm giving away one of these action DVDs so you've got something to give him next Sunday as well as on Fathers Day next year! 

Every subscriber gets his or her name in every edition of the book so it's win-win all the way...

Friday, 10 June 2016

Win Air Storm toys from Zing

Win the super fast Air Storm Z-Tek bows with 125 foot range and Air Storm Firetek rockets available. Get the kids ready for an all-new archery experience with whistling arrows and light up rockets.

We have one Air Storm Z-Tek bow and four Firetek rockets available to win, plus the new Wet Head game!

Air Storm Z-Tek Bow 

Get the next big thing in bow technology with the Z-Tek Bow.  Check out the sleek new design and shape.  Shorter bungees for faster firing.  Arrow clips right on the bow for quick reloads and a powerful presence.  It’s an all new archery experience with the Z-Tek Bow! Hook in the Zartz™ Arrow or Zonic™ Whistling Arrow, position the shot, and watch it fly through the air for an incredible 100 feet! Includes a Z-Tek Bow, two Zonic™ Whistling Arrows and one Suction-Cup Zartz™ Arrow.
Price: £19.99rrp
Age: 8+
Available: Now

Firetek Rocket

The Firetek Rocket is launching into orbit as the newest addition to Zing’s Firetek line with lights and sounds, ready for outdoor day or night fun!   Turn the light switch on the rocket to power up the action, Then, attach the Firetek light-up rocket to the launcher, pull the tab, and let it soar into the sky!  Hear the whistle-screaming arrows in action as the rocket flies up to 250 feet high with just a simple flick of the wrist. The Firetek rockets are set to fly to incredible heights with long-lasting performance.  Each set comes with two whistle-screaming light-up rockets and one launcher.
Price: £9.99rrp
Age: 5+
Available: Now

Entry is via the Rafflecopter app (below) with a range of different options and the closing date for all entries in midnight on Wednesday. Please note you can enter for one or more of the prizes but there's no choice of colours for the Air Storm Z-Tek Bow. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Hi di hi!

I'm not the world's most enthusiastic camper, if truth be told. By which I mean I'm less than keen on camping under canvas.

Thankfully, with Eurocamp you have a choice - tents (and rather posh ones, too) as well as a range of cabins tilted very favourably towards the luxury end of the market as far as I can tell. So when they invited us to go #BacktoEurocamp last week for half-term, we were certainly keen.

As it happens we re-visited the scene of our first Eurocamp adventure, some years ago - Domaine de Drancourt, St Valéry-sur-Somme in northern France. It's handy, being not far from the Channel ports and well situated for all sorts of activities including the World War One battlefields I was keen to visit. (St Valéry is no stranger to conflict either, having been the site of William the Conqueror's departure for Hastings in 1066 and also a holding place for Joan of Arc, en route to Rouen for her trial and eventual execution.)

It was interesting to see how the site had changed. New, enlarged pools; an enhanced range of facilities, and a cashless card-based system for the camp shop, the bar, restaurant and take-away all gave the site the feeling of having had some TLC.

Our caravan was certainly very well appointed, too, and the kids loved the bunk beds. There was plenty of room in the central family area as well as a lovely, large decking platform with table, chairs and gas barbecue. If only we'd been able to use it...

Yes, the weather was atrocious. But at least we didn't have the floods that had affected many other parts of Europe. Some of our fellow campers weren't exactly on their best behaviour, either. (Not, I should hasten to add, Eurocamp customers, however.)

On our first day (the only day it didn't rain!) there seemed to be an extended outdoor party that went on well into the evening, involving a large group on English holidaymakers and an awful lot of drink. It was bad enough for me to have to speak to them at one point. Later that night (and with the music still blaring out) I texted the Eurocamp reps to ask them if something could be done. And - full credit to them - they, too, went and spoke to the group, reminding them of the need to consider thier neighbours. Given that these poeple weren't even Eurocamp customers, I thought that was above and beyond (and very welcome!).

Rather than cram everything into one post I'm going to mention some of the things we did during the week in subsequent posts, so watch this space if you want to find out more. For now, suffice to say that all in all, in spite of the weather, we were happy #Eurocampers.
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