Monday, July 6, 2020

Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds 2 by Nick Albert - Book Tour

Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds 2 – Still living the dream in rural Ireland

Nick and Lesley's desire for a better life in the countryside was a long-held dream. Unforeseen events and a leap of faith forced that dream into reality, but moving to rural Ireland was only the beginning of their story.
Foreigners in a foreign land, they set about making new friends, learning the culture and expanding their collection of chickens and unruly dogs. But their dream home was in desperate need of renovation, a mammoth task they attacked with the aid of a DIY manual, dwindling funds and incompetent enthusiasm. With defunct diggers, collapsing ladders, and shocking electrics, what could possibly go wrong?
Will their new life live up to expectations, or will the Irish weather, dangerous roads, and a cruel twist of fate turn this dream into a nightmare?

Purchase Links
Amazon UK

Amazon USA

Author Q&A

1. What would you consider to be your Kryptonite as an author?
I think most authors suffer from some amount of imposter syndrome, that feeling you aren’t worthy or don’t belong – I know I do. That fragility of confidence is easily pushed to breaking point. It doesn’t take much. One poor review, a sudden unexplained drop in sales ratings, or a little casual criticism by an armchair critic can leave me sitting slack-faced and with slumped shoulders, staring at a blank page and wondering why I bother. Fortunately, I’ve been doing this writing lark long enough and well enough to have learned how to bounce back.

2. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
I’d advise myself to read even more than I did. Every author has to learn their craft, find a voice and develop a skill-set. You can do some of this by trial and error, but most of it will be learned by reading. So I’d tell myself, time spent reading isn’t wasted, It’s an investment in your future.

3. Favorite childhood memory involving books?
As a child, I was introduced to the wonderful world of books by my sister, when she gave me her well-thumbed copy of Winnie-the-Pooh. A short while later, I discovered The Story of Doctor Doolittle, by Hugh Lofting. I believe I read all 13 books in the series within a month. Introducing a child to the joys of reading is the greatest gift anyone can ever give.
My father was a pilot in the Royal Air Force. Military kids get moved around a lot. With so many transient relationships in their lives, it can be practically and emotionally difficult for those children to develop friendships. Books are loyal friends for a lonely child. I think most of us read a lot.
My favorite memory stems from when I was a student living in Norwich, England. Shortly after I moved into my first flat, I discovered it was next door to the best second-hand bookshop in the city. What heaven! Back then I read a lot of sci-fi books and thrillers, purely for the escapism. My bedroom had a large window seat where I spent many happy Sunday afternoons quietly reading. 

4. Did you want to be an author before you grew up?
I’ve always been a writer. My first book, “The Adventures of Sticky, The Stick Insect,” was completed when I was eight. Just five pages long and sprinkled with spelling errors, it was not a big hit with the critics. Undaunted, over the next 35 years I continued to write, gradually developing my skills, but not my spelling. When gave up my day job and moved to Ireland gave me was space, physically and in my diary. At last I had the time I needed to write. I am also a golf coach, so a short while later, I began writing an instructional column for a local newspaper. After several years, I had enough content to write a golf book. It was a number one bestseller for a bit and gave me the incentive to begin writing full time.
Around four years later, I began looking for a publisher. It was around the time the industry began this seismic shift away from the traditional publishing model, brought about by the success of Lulu and Amazon as publishing platforms. At first I approached several agents along with those few publishers who were still accepting direct submissions. All I got in return was silence or cold boilerplate rejection letters. As someone who accepts refusal about as well as a child in a sweetshop, I found it all very depressing. However, when I saw J.K.Rowling (writing as Robert Galbraith) had experienced the same issue, I began to feel a bit less discouraged. Eventually I ran out of patience and opted for the self-published approach using the Amazon platform.
Over the next few years, I continued to make submissions, but now I had a better offering – a proven track record of sales, hundreds of great reviews and a solid social media presence. Finally, I received an offer to publish. In fact I had four within just six months. Suddenly, I had a dilemma. As a successful self-published author, what had I to gain from signing a contract to publish?
Most of the publishers were essentially offering to do what I was already doing but charge me a fee for the privilege. They were reticent to talk about marketing strategy, budgets or anticipated revenue, but were expecting me to sign over the artistic rights to my work. I chose to sign with Ant Press precisely because they were different. To begin with, they don’t sign books, they sign authors. Secondly, they have considerable experience publishing memoirs, so they really know their stuff. Thirdly, they asked me to make changes to my manuscripts – a lot of changes.
At that time I had two completed manuscripts, totaling almost 200,000 words. Ant Press asked me to make so many changes, it made my head spin. Even so, I was impressed they had such courage in their convictions. For a month we had robust but amicable discussions about what a new series of books would look like. I even rewrote a couple of chapters to see if I was comfortable with the stylistic changes they were proposing. Finally, we were in agreement and I became an Ant Press author. It was a proud day for me. I have no regrets.

5. If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?
Handsome, sexy and debonair? Probably not! Actually, it’s a tough question because I hate to be confined to a socially acceptable box, but if I must choose three words…
Organized – I like lists, plans and predictability, particularly when I’m working. I have rather a butterfly brain, which is inclined to flit about between ideas unless I have a clear mental map to follow.
Truthful – Perhaps this is an odd choice of words given authors are all about making up stories, or sharing their version of events, but I am an honest person – both morally and emotionally. I try to say what I mean and mean what I say. It may be a cliché, but in my case it’s true.
Adaptable – This is why I dislike the idea of being defined by a socially approved box. Why should someone stick to one job or a linear career path? Surely every experience gives you new knowledge or another skill you can employ. Albert Einstein was an assistant examiner at the Swiss Patent Office. How different would the world be if he hadn’t been able to change paths.
As a multi-genre author, I’ve been asked if I shouldn’t pick one horse and ride it. I said no! If you’ve got a story to tell, and you know your stuff, don’t let protocol hold you back.

6. What is your most unusual writing quirk?
Before I start writing any book, I create voluminous lists and flowcharts, all written in longhand using my favorite ink pen. It’s a long and arduous process but essential to create the framework for my story. Once the fingers are flying and the words flowing, I can permit my butterfly mind to occasionally flit off-track, secure in the knowledge I will never lose my way. Having a plan isn’t restrictive, quite the opposite, it encourages creativity. When I was writing Wrecking Crew, there were a couple of times when I was astonished by an event that just popped into my head, particularly as it slotted perfectly into the storyline. About halfway through the book, the protagonist Eric Stone opens the trunk of a car and there was… well, I won’t spoil the surprise. I recall sitting back in astonishment as I really had no idea what was about to happen. Of course, it was just my imagination running along ahead, something that could only happen because it had a clear path to follow.
Writing memoirs need strict adherence to a good timeline, particularly for me, otherwise it is all too easy to jump about chronologically and that can become very confusing for the reader. My timelines are usually dozens of pages of A4 covered in scribbled notes and yellow post-it’s. It can take months to get all the events in the correct order. Usually my notes are just single-line memory triggers, meaningless to anyone but me.

7. What’s one movie you like recommending to others?
I enjoy well written books and films which tell true stories about people overcoming adversity, so there are several I could choose from in that genre. If I had to pick just one, it would be ‘Men of Honor’ starring Robert De Niro and Cuba Gooding Jr. It is inspired by the true story of Master Chief Petty Officer Carl Brashear, the first African American master diver in the United States Navy.

8. If you could own any animal as a pet, what would it be?
We have four dogs. They are a Collie, a Fox hound a Pomeranian/Terrier and a Golden Retriever. I’m not allowed to have a favorite, but I’d certainly have another Goldie if I could.

9. Have you ever met anyone famous?
“Someone more famous than me?” he joked.
Yes, I’ve met several famous people but, apart from dozens of golf professionals, most of them are dead and no longer remembered. Here’s a short list of but a few.
Davy Jones – Lead singer with the Monkees.
Mike Reed – Comedian who played Frank Butcher in EastEnders.
Joss Ackland CBE – Actor in many films including Lethal Weapon 2.
Kevin Keegan OBE – Footballer.
Eric Sykes CBE – English radio, stage, television and film writer, comedian, actor, and director whose performing career spanned more than 50 years. When I was 16 years old, I almost killed him with my golf ball, when he unexpectedly wandered into the middle of the fairway after I’d hit my drive. I shouted FOUR but he ignored me or so I thought. Actually, he was profoundly deaf and yet managed to carve out a stellar career as an actor.

10. What is the first book that made you cry?The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. I laughed until I cried when I read it and almost cried when I heard he’d died.
11. How long, on average, does it take you to write a book?Too long! On average, it takes me about nine months from the first word to publication. These days, authors need to spend a lot of time on social media interacting with fans. It’s an enjoyable part of the job, but very time consuming.
12. How do you select the names of your characters?When I’m writing thrillers, I first create a mental picture of the character, before hunting through lists of names until I find one which feels right. In my memoirs, primarily to save any embarrassment or law suits, I usually change the names. Although all of the stories are true, many of the characters are a blend of the best bits from two or three people. I’ll usually tweak the names in the same way. 
13. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?Before you write, read – a lot. Read what you enjoy. Read the kind of books you would like to write but be sure to observe the authors craft as you read. Take note of how they mix dialog with narration, how they paint their pictures and how they guide your mind. Try to look beyond the words to understand how the story was constructed. Do all this and more, before you put pen to paper.
When you begin writing, remember it is a craft, one that needs developing. No matter how talented you are at the beginning, your writing should always improve over time. You should expect your last book to be much better than your first. Never let anyone tell you that you are unworthy.
Understanding the difference between dreams and goals can make your task considerably less stressful. Dreams are the things we would like to achieve, but have very little control over – like winning the lottery. Goals are the steps we take towards achieving our dream – like buying that lottery ticket. Goals you control, dreams you don’t. That distinction is important. As a writer, you must focus your efforts and evaluate your success based only on the things you can control. Trying to do otherwise is a recipe for disaster.
Many excellent writers have given up because they made getting published their goal and failed.  Trying to get published won’t make you a better writer, but being a better writer, and building a large social media following of people who like your work, will definitely help you to get published. Focus on what you can control.
14. What is your favorite genre to read?I’ll read anything, as long as it’s well written and interesting. My collection is somewhat eclectic, I’m not sure what that says about me. I have a library and dozens of stacked boxes bulging with biographies featuring authors from all walks of life, loads of thrillers, some sci-fi and the complete works of Sue Grafton, Lee Child, Tom Holt, Terry Pratchett and William Shakespeare. I’m never without a book. One secret I can reveal, if I’m writing comedy, I’ll only read thrillers – and vice versa.
15. If you were the last person on Earth, what would you do?Sit down with a good book and enjoy some quiet time.

Author Bio –
Nick Albert was born in England and raised in a Royal Air Force family. After leaving College he worked in retail management for several years before moving into financial services where he quickly progressed through the ranks to become a training consultant. As a very passionate and reasonably talented sportsman, Nick had always wanted to use his training skills towards creating a parallel career, so in the mid 1980's he qualified and began coaching sport professionally. After a health scare in 2003 and in search of a simpler life, he and his wife Lesley, cashed in their investments, sold their home and bought a rundown farmhouse in the rural west of Ireland - a country they had never before even visited. With little money or experience and armed only with a do-it-yourself manual, they set about renovating their new home, where they now live happily alongside a flock of chickens, two ducks and several unruly, but delightful dogs.
In 2017 Nick was signed to Ant Press to write a series of humorous memoirs about his life in rural Ireland. Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds (book one) was published in September 2017 and soon became an Amazon bestseller. Book two in the series was published on 1st June 2018 and book 3 in August 2019. Book four is due out in 2020.

Nick is also the author of the twisty thriller, Wrecking Crew, the first in a series of books featuring reluctant hero Eric Stone.

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