Have you missed the boat?

Almost a year ago, I spoke at the Bangkok Literary Festival about Five Stop Story and the state of the publishing industry. Other speakers included Ken Hom, Stephen Leather and Christopher Moore  and I felt a little out of my depth. How would people respond to me, an unpublished writer who had just set up a short story competition?

When I was researching my talk I looked into the success of Amanda Hocking and how she had achieved it. I remember thinking, “that’s amazing, but surely I’m too late to ride the back of that bandwagon?” She had started publishing her books in April 2010. Since then millions of authors have followed her path. I told myself it wouldn’t work today. Additionally, and more importantly, my book wasn’t ready.

After my own talk was over I went to watch Stephen Leather’s talk. He told of how he made his book a bestseller by releasing it on Christmas Day 2010, when loads of people had just been given a Kindle for Christmas. It shot up the charts. Again, I was inspired by his story, but again I felt that that boat was now just a spot on the horizon. I’d missed the opportunity again.

Now, I’m starting to look at self-publishing again and this time my book isn’t so far off. It just needs one more edit from me, a proof-read then a professional edit and I’m good to go. This time I’m not going to let myself believe I’ve missed any boats. There are always more boats. The trick is not to watch the ones that have left but to look to the horizon to spot the ones that are sailing in.

The Global Story of London 2012

I’ve been selected as one of the 100 BT Olympic storytellers who will tell the story of the build up to London 2012. This is a great opportunity, particularly as this year I’m splitting my time between London and Bangkok and so I’ll have a unique perspective on how the games are perceived around the world.

In Thailand, the fact that it’s less than one year until the games hasn’t gone unnoticed. On 27th July, the British Council launched its “English for 2012” campaign to encourage people to practice their English at the same time as learning about London and the Olympics. Students can play free games, watch videos and take part in interactive exercises on the website.

On TV for the last few weeks, there have been continuous adverts on BBC World for “World Class.” This project encourages schools across the globe to “twin” with UK schools to increase understanding between countries, build relationships and share the excitement in the build up to the games.

In Bangkok, the National Olympic Committee of Thailand organised an Olympic Day to mark the 84th birthday of the King. The British Embassy put on an exhibition about London 2012 to share the UK’s plans with a Thai audience.

It will be interesting to see how these initiatives develop. London 2012 is about more than London and Londoners. It’s about the people who come to the UK for the games and the people who watch the games on the TV across the globe. London 2012 is a great opportunity to improve the UK’s image and increase understanding between nations. It will be interesting to see how Thai views of the British change as it gets closer to the games and media coverage in Thailand increases.

Top 5 things I love about life in Bangkok

I’ve been in Thailand a little while now, so I thought it might be time to share the top 5 things I love about day to day living in Bangkok.

1. The Food

The food is surely some of the best in the world: Pad Thai, loads of fresh seafood, noodles, fish cakes, massaman curry, morning glory…the list goes on. The price is good too; even in a restaurant a curry will only set you back about £2 and you can also get pretty much any kind of Western food for a lower price than in the UK. Plus you can order delivery from almost everywhere, including McDonalds!

2. Walking around in shorts and a t-shirt at night

In the evenings the temperature is perfect. I feel pleasantly warm in the evenings as I walk down the streets, I can eat outside without an outdoor heater and I don’t have to put on a coat, gloves and scarf before heading out in winter.

3. The national anthem at every opportunity

In the cinema everyone stands up at the sound of the first bars of the national anthem. At 6pm at sky-train stations across the city everyone stops what they are doing and stands still wherever they happen to be as the national anthem plays through the speakers. Even when we went to see the New York band the Drums playing live, we stood still for the national anthem before the gig started. Thai national anthem has become a regular part of my life and now its opening bars bring me to a standstill.

4. Table service drinks

No more queuing at the bar, waving notes and desperately trying to catch the barman’s eye. Drinks are almost served to your table. And at gigs bar staff come round with ice buckets of beer to sell to you. So no need to lose your place at the front to quench your thirst.

5. Friendly people

I’m not talking about the guy who tells you the tourist attractions are closed and then offers to take you to a gem shop in his tuk-tuk. I mean more the fact that wherever you go you’re always greeted with a smile, people are unfailingly polite and will do their best to help you out.