Jeff Bezos – CEO of Amazon – bought my e-book & other stories

When you’re a writer and a parent the holidays are always challenging.  How do you keep up the momentum on your book and entertain the kids?

I’ve never used childcare as, being self-employed, I couldn’t justify the expense.  With no family nearby either I’ve had plenty of holidays where work has just ground to a halt.  As the summer holidays approached this year I’d been undertaking the exciting and scary job of sending out Book 4 to agents after a long break from writing (see previous post).  I sent it to a few select favourites and got some fantastic feedback – one regretfully declined as it clashed with another project she was working on, two said some lovely things but couldn’t figure out where it sat in the marketplace and two suggested an edit and a resubmission.  The problem with the book seemed to be that, as it was written in a commercial style but wasn’t quite a romance, it had no clear market to pitch at.  It was suggested I ‘bring the romantic sub plot to the fore’ and after much thought the penny dropped and I realised they were right.  I started working on ‘romantic edits’ in July and I’ve been really enjoying seeing the book come together with more direction.  I’d been hugely motivated by the positive comments from the agents who’d seen it and was working all day, every day, wanting to get it done as quickly as possible.  Then the schools broke up and my 9-4 work schedule ceased to a halt.

This year has proved to be easier than most.  As my kids are now 12 and 15 getting them out of bed before lunchtime is a near impossible task.  If we’ve got nothing going on that day they sleep in and I get to work on the WIP before lunch.  It’s slower progress but it’s still progress.  That was until last week…

Before the summer my daughter nagged me to take part in Gishwhes (greatest international scavenger hunt the world has ever seen).  She’d been watching back-to-back episodes of Supernatural and was forever trying to educate me on the positives of Misha Collins.  As this is a charity scavenger hunt he set up she was keen to join.  ‘Sure, why not?’ I said, giving it very little thought.  It’ll keep her busy for a week.  I can work on the WIP.  Everyone’s happy.

As the day grew nearer and my daughter kept appearing with her laptop to educate me further on GISHWHES I started to realise exactly what she’d signed up for.  A week of completing challenges with nine of her friends and another group of 6 from Norway.  The challenges range in difficulty from hugging 100 people to putting the charity decals on a military plane and filming it taking off.  They collect photo and video evidence of all challenges completed to earn points and the winner gets a holiday in Vancouver.

On day one the house filled up with teenagers who decided to use it as ‘base camp’ and so started one of the most random, hilarious and full-on weeks we’ve ever had in a summer holiday.  I spent the first evening composing a Haiku for them to stick on a bus stop (amazingly it’s still there and hasn’t been graffitied)

haiku on a bus stop

They turned my dining room into this…

diningroom

My garden became this…

wooster

My writing cupboard was transformed into this…

writingcupboardshrine

…and so the week passed trying to find a mouse to put in a Barbie car and find a friend who’d give blood with me while wearing a Christmas hat.

One of the challenges was to sell an e-book to Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.  Ellie sent him an email at the start of the week and rather like the email she sent to Stephen Hawkins and phone calls made trying to gain access to a particle accelerator she didn’t think she’d get very far.  Then, a few days later, she got a reply saying ‘Doesn’t everyone enjoy a good scavenger hunt, of course I’d love to help’.  After the initial excitement wore off we realised the other teams were getting the same response.  Jeff Bezos was responding to all requests with the suggestion that they pick a book from the Amazon Monthly Deals.  Ellie promptly emailed back asking if, instead of the books on offer, could he possibly buy The Dream Theatre off her.  It’s a book I wrote for the children when my son was out of school.  I’ve never really promoted or pushed it as a book and chose the e-book route as, although I loved writing the book and it means a lot to me, I wanted to return to writing adult fiction.  Children’s books don’t sell particularly well as e-books yet so Ellie figured it could do with a boost.  Low and behold just a few hours later she got her reply.  Jeff Bezos had bought my e-book and sent it to her as a gift to show it had been done.  He may well have responded to all personal requests, have had someone to do it for him or even done it for PR but I still think it’s pretty great to be able to say ‘Jeff Bezos bought my e-book’ and have the proof!  It was also good of him to support the GISHWES charity (NASA weren’t quite so forthcoming!).

And so the week came to its conclusion, with a litter pick, dressing my car up as a prom date, making a weapon of mass dictation, hosting a vice ridden poker game with five nursery rhyme characters and driving three of the team blindfolded to a corn field.  We’re all exhausted.  The house is trashed, the fridge is bare and the WIP has gone relatively ignored, but it’s been a brilliant week, with some excellent people and we all want to sign up for it next year.

Today I’m returning to the WIP.  I suspect the teenagers will be spending the whole day in bed so I should get lots done.  I might have to have a tidy up first though…

Mess

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