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Time to gather up our ideas

think_aheadPhil: With Kate vs the Navy now out, we are pondering the third in the series.

Much of the humour and many of the important scenes in both books are based on our own experiences. HIA, from Kate vs the Dirtboffins, is influenced by one of my past employers. Recently, I met someone who reckoned he could write a list of real people who match the characters in the book…

Kate vs the Navy has the plot pivoting on an incident that happened to Candice. I’ve wondered for a long while what we would have done if it hadn’t happened to her (no spoilers, but if it helps, she did blog about it at the time). The resulting plotline made a lot of sense both for this book and the story arc covering the whole series.

So, now it’s time to mine our lives for more events to turn in to the plot. We already know that my job history is likely to provide the location for the latest set of adventures. I know it’s Candice’s turn, but I’ve worked in weirder places than she has – which probably tells you something about me.

One little tidbit I’m keen to include is a driving assessment I recently undertook. These are a requirement for anyone driving one of the firm’s cars and so I had to cruise around country lanes for 50 minutes trying not to crash into any tractors while a man decided if I was safe to do so.

Now the idea of people criticising your driving is a real horror for most people and I reckon that all our characters would be hilarious if placed in this position. Kate especially would find it hard – she’s not good at “feedback” at the best of times and she’ll be just the sort of person who thinks they are a great driver simply because they know which foot makes the car go quickly. Tracey, on the other hand, thinks she’s a good driver because her lipstick, applied while looking in the rearview mirror, is perfect.

The poor examiner doesn’t stand a chance.

Anyway, Book 3 starts in the new year. We better hope our festive crackers have thinking caps inside them.

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Paperback writers X 2

 

Like so much of the DIY publishing world, getting a book out involves quite a steep learning curve. Last time, we spent money with a co-publisher to allow us to concentrate on the writing and publicity. This time, we put the money into copy editing and did the rest ourselves.

We could get away with this because Amazon has splashed some of their cash on a Print on Demand publisher called “CreateSpace”. This means they can offer a service where we upload text and (professionally designed) cover and then everyone can buy the book exactly as they would any other publication. There isn’t even a delay – I ordered the first copy and it was in my hand two days later. Look and feel is good, and better than other similar services we’ve seen.

Best of all dear potential reader, the cost to you is lower than for our first book. A tiny £5.99. Possibly the best bargain this Christmas.

As we sat at our table in Akamba, team NolanParker congratulated ourselves on Book 2 arriving. Not many people write one book, let alone two. However, there isn’t time to be smug, we need to crack on with Book 3 so this time next year, the pile will be even bigger…

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Kate vs the Navy – First reviews

Phil: The nervous wait is over, first reviews are in for Kate vs the Navy:

WinnitsMuch like the first book in this series – Kate vs the Dirt-boffins – it’s not my typical reading genre. Having read the first book already and enjoyed it very much I was already familiar with the key characters, and it was good to check in with them and see how their stories had developed in the time that elapsed between the two stories.

Plenty of twists, turns and intrigue both in the main story arc but also in the intra-character relationships as they form or shift – much like before another outlandish chase scene, and the ‘punch line’ of the story was kept well under wraps until the conclusion. Recommended as a good entertaining piece of light reading. *****

Someone just identified as Amazon CustomerReally enjoyed the first book and was disappointed when it ended so was really chuffed to see Kate back in print.
Another great story with plot twists and excitement. And I won’t spoil the ending but needless to say it was worth the wait.
A nice easy read, and now need another one!
Can highly recommend it.
*****

Yay! People like it! (also, Phew!)

Buy Kate vs the Navy on Kindle – 99p

Buy Kate vs the Navy in paperback – £5.99

 

 

 

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Kate vs the Navy – On Sale now!

The wait is over. Fire up your e-reader and settle down with your favourite mug full of tea and some biscuits. Then head over to Amazon where you can purchase our second novel, Kate vs the Navy for a bargain price of 99p.

Plenty of high jinks on the high seas and one of the team becomes an unlikely hero. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll be desperate to know what happens next…

(Don’t worry paper book fans, we haven’t forgotten you. The print version is coming very soon)

Kate vs the Navy – Kindle edition

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Kate vs the Navy – Chapter Three

Sitting next to each other in A&E, Kate and Dave looked a sorry sight. She was holding a damp cloth to her still-bleeding scalp. He had his head between his knees. Every time he tried to sit up he turned pale and began to slump again.

Kate had shooed off the KOD staff who had dropped them off at Solihull Hospital, more out of embarrassment than the fact she felt fine. The last thing she wanted was sympathy, and she hated to be seen looking this bad. It would be a long wait, and being forced to make polite conversation wouldn’t make it any easier. Three hours of looking at pictures from anyone’s holiday on Facebook would give her more of a headache than the one caused by the slight concussion she’d suffered.

Dave wasn’t helping. She couldn’t believe he could be so wet. Fancy keeling over at the sight of blood. She thought she’d heard him mutter something about it never happening before.

. When he’d come round in the office, he didn’t seem too surprised – just very embarrassed as he brushed everyone off. They had insisted he go to hospital.

Come on, Dave. Pull yourself together,” she hissed under her breath.

I’m OK; nothing to worry about.” Dave attempted to sit up again. Still a little green around the gills, he finally managed to look around the A&E of the small hospital.

Where are we again?”

Solihull Hospital. Luckily, it’s just round the corner from the office. Trouble is, with all these NHS cuts, we’ll be here until midnight before we’re treated.” Kate glared as another small child queue-jumped them to a cubicle. “They’ve said I need some butterfly stitches in my head and they just want to check you over again. I told them you said this hasn’t happened before.”

Um, well that’s not strictly true. I just didn’t want to tell the team.”

Oh…” Kate turned to look at Dave, a little surprised.

Well, I used to be OK. Remember when I pulled you up the crag after that fall when we were at university?”

Kate remembered it well. One false move back then and she wouldn’t have been around to have this conversation.

She and Dave had been close in those days and, if it hadn’t been for her long-term boyfriend Felix, they might have been even closer. Hill-walking in the Lake District during their last term, she’d slipped and fallen over the edge on a craggy rock face. Dave had pulled her back up by force alone and then managed to help her hobble down the hill. A nasty cut on her leg had bleed quite badly and he’d bandaged it up. She still had the scar on her knee.

Yes, I bled like someone had turned a tap on and you sorted me out.”

And then you disappeared from my life before I could tell you how I felt, she thought wistfully. The experience had helped Kate decide that she was with the wrong man. But before she could tell Dave, he had landed a job in America and was gone.

Well, I was Mr First-Aid-trained, lifeguard… all that. That is, until my son was born. I won’t go in to the details but Alicia had a terrible time; she lost a lot of blood, had to have transfusions and everything, and I was in the room the whole time. I can’t stand the sight of it now. Too many bad memories. Luckily Dave Junior came out fine.” Dave looked across the room, a distant look in his eye.

Kate could see that she’d hit a sore point. Unsure where to go next she asked, “How is he these days?”

Fine. He’s back in the US with his mom at the moment.” Dave clammed up.

Ah, OK.” Dying to know more but knowing she couldn’t ask, Kate kept her mouth shut.

Last time she’d seen Dave there were signs that his marriage was over. He’d managed to reignite feelings in her that she thought didn’t exist anymore and, after they’d kissed at the Christmas party, she thought that there might be something there still.

Then he’d blown her out of the water by responding very sketchily to her texts and emails. She’d flipped her romance switch back to ‘off’ – it didn’t seem to be worth all the hassle.

Kate Smith!” A voice hollered across the waiting room.

Kate got up, shoes in hand, and wandered across to the waiting nurse.

Well, look at the state of you. Was it those silly shoes?”

Kate looked down at the vertiginous shoes, one of which now had a broken heel. “I can walk in them fine, don’t you know. Someone got in my way,” she snapped.

The nurse looked like she had been slapped, tutted, and turned on her own rather more sensibly shod heel to go into the cubicle.

*

Left on his own, Dave pulled out his phone and pressed the screen. Up came a picture of a smiling boy. Off to the side of the picture he could just see a woman’s hand. He tapped the Facebook app and looked at his photo albums, flicking through happy holiday photos and finally landing on the photo that he’d picked for his home screen.

The uncropped picture showed the blonde-haired boy next to his smiling mother. Looking at the photo, Dave pondered the woman in it. They’d been so happy when they’d first got together. Funnily enough, it wasn’t the move to the UK that had killed their marriage – it was already floundering by then – but the appearance of Dave Junior.

Dave hadn’t been joking when he’d described the birth as traumatic. What puzzled him was something the hospital had said about a hereditary disease. The doctors said it explained why the birth had been so difficult, and asked why they hadn’t been told about it. Afterwards, Dave had asked his parents; they had professed to know nothing about it and Alicia’s family said the same. He thought the hospital might have made a mistake, but it had placed a question in his head. He didn’t know why: he knew Alicia hadn’t had an affair. But when they had started to row it was the kind of thing that came to the surface and made their arguments more heated. Accusations made in the heat of the moment were hard to take back.

Dave Thomas!” Another voice belted out across the room.

Dave put his phone in his pocket and got up slowly. “Over here.”

Having a few problems with the sight of blood are we?” The sarcastically efficient nurse looked him up and down. “Right, we’ll check your blood pressure and see what’s up.”

Dave followed her into the cubicle, lay down on the bed and closed his eyes.


You’ve read the first three chapters and are now desperate to know more. Well, we are going to tease you a little more. First, we needed to commission a cover. And we’ll bring that to you tomorrow. It’s very good indeed…

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Kate vs the Navy – Chapter Two

The old man of the sea looked out over his domain, and he was happy with what he saw. Through the window, the view was dominated by the noble grey steel bow of his vessel. Around him, the orderly world of the bridge. Everything was in its place, ready to be called to arms at a moment’s notice. There was nowhere else he would rather be.

His hand gently caressed the ship’s wheel but, in his mind’s eye, he saw himself wrestling with it as a southwester tore across the bows, rain lashed fiercely into the port side, and the crew looked to their captain for reassurance that, yet again, he would lead them safely to port.

No such worries now: for the moment, they were tied alongside. A gentle swell caused the deck to roll sensuously beneath his feet. The feeling put him in mind of a lady he had known in La Paz. For a moment he lost himself in the memory.

Rubbing the gleaming brass handle of the ship’s telegraph to remove a smudge, he looked forward to a day when it would be firmly thrust from ‘stop’ to ‘full ahead’.

Soon, my beauty. Soon,” he whispered, as if to a lover. “We’ll have fire in your belly and a world to explore. Soon.”

Looking out over the ocean, he could see the sunset. It was a nearly prefect evening, but the sky promised things would change. Storm clouds were gathering ahead.

Come back for Chapter Three next week.

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Kate vs the Navy – Chapter One

“Dave!”

Kate Smith squealed in surprise and nearly fell over the chair in her four-inch Louboutins.

Dave. How could Dave be working here? Didn’t Gareth remember what happened at Christmas? Oh my God, this was going to be a disaster!

In the world of control-freak Kate, surprises were not permitted.

This was (almost) her company. Gareth might be her business partner but only in a strictly silent sense – if he knew what was good for him.

Dave Thomas was a nearly forgotten university flame who’d just happened to come back into her life during a project last year. After snogging Kate’s rather drunken face off at the closing-down Christmas party he’d scuttled off to his estranged wife in the States. He was certainly not supposed to be back in her office, let alone being announced as a partner in the firm.

Tracey Dunn-Jones, office tart and general nosy parker, sniggered in the corner. She’d worked out what Gareth had been up to by sneakily checking his diary when he’d mentioned a solo trip and meeting in London. Who did they know who was based in London? Only the disgraced aide of an MP who’d recently lost his job over the closure of a certain vegetable research station. Putting two and two together made a potentially very exciting five. Time to sit back and watch sparks fly, she thought.

On the other side of the room, IT nerd Kelvin was flummoxed by the whole situation. He remembered this Dave guy from their last job and considered him far too cool. He’d preferred the company of the researchers with their tractor-emblazoned jumpers to this cut-price James Bond clad in designer clobber. There had been some hoo-ha at the Christmas party apparently, but he’d been too busy with the tech guys, checking out the latest gadget, to work out what all the fuss had been about. To be honest, the moment people had started flashing their arses he’d ducked out for some fresh air.

The scene seemed to roll out in slow motion.

Dave had walked in to the room all smiles and was about to open his mouth when the shriek came from the side of the office. From the corner of his eye, he saw Kate – looking rather fetching in a pencil skirt and pleasantly form-fitting blouse – stumble and then right herself. As he turned to face her, she lost her footing again.

Kate’s favourite designer footwear wasn’t designed for such reactions. Putting all the pressure on one shoe had caused the heel to snap off, and she was suddenly falling backwards towards a desk. Kelvin, standing behind her, was slow to react and she’d hit the edge of the furniture before he could catch her. Her head hit the desk with a resounding thud, causing her to spin sideways and hit the floor with a crunch. There was a resounding oh! from the rest of the team as they ran over to see how she was.

Gareth Fothrington-Thomas, the fifty-something owner of KOD who was more renowned for his contacts than his business nous, might have the words “Managing Director” on his card but right now he could neither manage nor direct, just stand watch things unfold. A thought flashed across his mind – if only his wife was here. As an animal expert she’d done mouth to mouth on cows; he wasn’t even sure where the first aid kit was.

As everyone crowded round a stunned Kate, she just lay there looking up at them. Although her head hurt more than when she’d had too many cocktails and ended up in the ice bar in Spain, she was OK.

Back off everyone,” she said in strident tones that could be heard across the office. “I’m absolutely fine.” She began to stand, pushing helpfully offered hands out of the way. Dave had joined the throng and was trying to get past the gapers to help. However, as Kate began to rise he spotted something through the crowd. Blood was trickling down the side of her face from a cut on the side of her head.

As everyone backed off – Kate was not a woman to argue with – she heard a few murmurs about her bleeding head. She touched her crown and her fingers came back red. Oh bum, she thought, that’s really going to ruin my Dior base.

Thump!

The crowd turned round to find what had sounded like a sack of potatoes hitting the floor. They looked at each other trying to work out where the noise had come from. A pair of Hugo Boss brogues could be seen peeping out from behind one of the desks. Kate leant over the desk to see what was going on, and found Dave flat on the floor, pale as a sheet and out for the count.

Oh God!” she groaned. “What are you doing down there, Dave?”

*

KOD Associates, business change consultants, occupied the top floor of an office block in a bland part of Solihull town centre. The name meant ‘Kiss of Death’ and was a private joke. Kate had tried and failed to get her post-university career off the ground for a while and then, always a self-starter, she’d teamed up with Gareth, an old work colleague who had some contacts and money, to bring her ideas to life. Sensing an opportunity provided by the downturn in the economy, they had set themselves up as the go-to company for those who wanted to slim down a business. Their breakthrough job had been managing the spectacular closure of a government-run quango, the Horticultural Investigation Agency (HIA for short), after the last general election.

It had been a memorable job in many ways. Not just because of rioting staff, radioactive potato disease and an MP more concerned with climbing the greasy pole of power than telling anyone the truth, but because of the damage inflicted on Kate’s wardrobe. The rough and tumble of their countryside activities had not been kind to her raft of designer skirts and high heels, and the mental and financial scars were still healing.

And then there was Dave Thomas, aide to the MP who had commissioned the work.

Kate had thought she’d traded all that hormone rubbish for a cool, calm business mind. Suddenly, the one who’d got away years before was back on the scene and her body discovered a supply of oestrogen.

Working on the quango closure had brought media attention that had continued over the last few months. Kate and Gareth were regularly asked for interviews but, annoyingly for Kate, hers seemed to centre on the contents of her wardrobe and being a woman in a man’s world. Gareth was the one who was asked about the company, even though he was ill-equipped to answer questions with anything other than “I rely on Kate to do all the thinking.” She was still pondering whether or not to accept the invite to Loose Women but on balance thought there were some loose ends she might prefer to tie up before being stuck in a television studio with a bunch of hormonal C-list celebrities.

However, with the hubbub of the HIA debacle dying down, KOD needed to find something else to get their teeth into and replenish the dwindling coffers: having expanded rapidly off the back of that job, they had higher rent and more staff to pay.

*

The crowd had reassembled. Dave was still out cold and Kate was trying not to drip on him. Why wouldn’t her stupid cut stop bleeding?

Come back for Chapter Two next week

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