The effects of cladding the bathroom walls

The lull in proceedings has continued. I’m conscious of the fact that I’m new to blogging, and people who are following me may be thinking that I’ve given up early. This couldn’t be further from the truth. This blog is a big deal to me, and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future.

The problem at the moment is that I’m just an average DIY man, and I have had some big DIY tasks thrust upon me. Time is of the essence, and I MUST complete things very soon. I embarked upon the job of cladding the walls in the bathroom at our rental flat. My wife assured me that it would be simple. I was also convinced that this would be the case. However, the truth of the matter is that it has turned out to be the most difficult DIY job that I have ever taken on. I would give my right arm for a simple 90 degree cut every now and then (that’s only because I’m left-handed). This isn’t the only DIY job that is beckoning, but there is a now a visible light at the end of the tunnel.

On the book promotion side of things, I have been kindly invited to write an article for an online magazine. It is due to be published at the beginning of June. It is called CVH 1st Class Group, and will be available at . Here, the editor Christina Howard has kindly taken an interest in my book and is keen on promoting it. I’ll post a direct link to it once it’s published. I’ve also been invited to an online interview by a medical researcher. One small step at a time.

A lull in proceedings

Over the past few weeks our spare time has been almost completely absorbed by the renovation of our rental flat. Tenants are due to move in towards the end of June. We’re on course to have the property ready by the end of May. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and the successful re-mortgage of the property has cut us some financial slack. It will cover the cost of the work we’re doing, and once it’s done, I’ll be financially better placed to move forward with the next stage of my book publication – the paperback.

E-book sales have been almost non-existent over the last couple of weeks. My Twitter followers have now exceeded 6,000, and I’ve decided to put my account to a new use. Having heard of two new cases of breast cancer in my circle of acquaintances, I’ve used it to promote cancer awareness and the importance of checking for lumps and acting upon it immediately should you find anything. Please check out these two websites:

It’s now all about turning negatives into positives. That is my mission. Having a brain haemorrhage is the best thing that ever happened to me.

Please visit my website

Don McLean

In the summer of 1976, on the day before my 16th birthday, I had my first guitar. Classical, and strung left-handed, I literally played it until my fingers bled – and beyond. I taught myself using books, and by 1980 I was playing semi-professionally as a vocal guitarist in local pubs. I never gave up the day job.

I’ve only ever had one idol in my life – Don Mclean. I wanted to be Don Mclean, but sadly it never happened, and the likes of American Pie, Vincent and Castles in the Air were always to be his. Most of my friends in the late seventies were into punk rock, but I favoured the poetry of solo artists such as Bob Dylan, James Taylor and my idol.

On Sunday this weekend (17th May), Sarah and I have tickets to see the great man himself at Colston Hall, Bristol, England. It will be my fourth time seeing him play, and Sarah’s second, as we saw him together two years ago at the same venue. I no longer idolise him. I’ve played his songs to death on my guitars over the years, and the thrill of his poetry has worn thin through overuse. But I love the guy and what he has done for me. Without him, I probably would never have picked up a guitar. Without him, I would never have been able to fill my life with so many hours of pleasure. Without him, I would never have composed this piece of music only two or three months after my brain haemorrhage in 2009 – the piece to which Sarah walked down the aisle when we married two years later.

I didn’t have to convert Sarah to Don McLean’s music. She just listened to my CDs and fell in love with them. When we did Route 66 last year, we only took three music CDs, and Don McLean was one. She is really excited about the concert. I’m no longer excited about seeing him – not like the early concerts I attended. But I’m looking forward to the experience, and the warm feeling that I’ll get as I watch him play, and think about all the good times I’ve had as a direct result of his influence on me in my early years.

Thank you Don McLean.

Please visit my website

Cancer and early detection

Today a friend of Sarah’s has been diagnosed with breast cancer. It’s two years and one month from Sarah’s own diagnosis. It brings back the sense of desperation and helplessness, with the long drawn out days turning into weeks of waiting, appointments, more waiting, tests, operations, biopsies and so on… and that is even before the chemotherapy begins. In one respect, those early days before the treatment were the hardest because of the “not knowing”. Once we knew the prognosis was good, the treatment was just a case of going through the motions (not to say it was easy, of course).

Now this is the important bit –


This is not something that I say lightly. Here is no place for apathy. You know where your bits are boys and girls. Get on it and check them out for lumps today. If something concerns you, delaying seeing your doctor is NOT an option.

Literary agent’s kind rejection

Today I received an email from a literary agent. She kindly took the time to download my e-book and read it after I’d emailed her a few weeks ago. This was her reply:
Thank you so much for sending me your manuscript, which I really enjoyed reading. I’m Never Ill is a powerful and touching story. Thank you for sharing it with me. However, unfortunately the market is very tough at the moment and I am afraid I have to be completely bowled over by something to take it on and I’m afraid I didn’t feel quite this strongly about your work. I know you will continue to approach agents and publishers and I’m sorry that it’s been a near miss for me.  Good luck with your further submissions.”
Despite rejecting my work, I find the words encouraging. I’ve more or less accepted the fact that I have to go it alone with my publishing, so the rejection of my book cannot deter me. On the contrary, she used the words “powerful” and “touching”, stronger words than I had ever expected to hear when I first published it. I don’t know exactly what criteria agents need, and if I’m going alone it is largely irrelevant. But if this description of my work is accurate, then it is only a matter of time before I hunt down thousands of others who would feel the same about my book.
I’ve gone through a barren few days with no sales at all, and another fruitless (more or less) Facebook campaign, but today my Amazon sales graph notched up another two sales. I am now up to the grand total of 67 book sales. Patience is the key.

McDonalds, Beverly Hills

Today I was talking to a man who told me that he’d worked at McDonald’s for the last 13 years. His snugly fitting extra, extra large T-shirt sported the words “Santa Monica”. I couldn’t help but tell him about the very last time that I went into a McDonald’s restaurant – the unlikelihood of the coincidence almost demanded it. It was on the last stretch last summer’s Route 66 adventure, driving from San Bernadino to the Santa Monica pier, on the Pacific coast at Los Angeles. The 70 mile journey was expected to be completed in a couple of hours, but that was without counting on the volume of traffic in the city. It took a full five hours, most of which was spent nose-to-tail in queues.



While inching along Santa Monica Boulevard, just a short distance from Beverly Hills, as nature’s call was rising to desperate, “any port in a storm” proportions, I spotted the familiar yellow “M” in the distance. It amused me that my soon-to-be comfort break would be at a fast food restaurant that is local to the likes of Simon Cowell, Jackie Collins and Madonna to name just a few. I wondered if they ever turned up there incognito for a Big Mac or Sausage and Egg McMuffin. Maybe they do McCelebrity birthday bashes. I can’t remember if I was hungry or not, but I didn’t eat there.

This was my latest holiday McDonalds trivia. Three years prior to this I was in Jamaica. There, I was told that there are no McDonald’s restaurants on the island due to the fast food giant’s refusal to use the locally produced beef, preferring to use its own source (that’s source, not sauce). Jamaica and McDonald’s were unwilling to compromise, and Burger King were left to relish in Jamaican burger dominance.

In Paris a couple of years ago, I walked past the McDonald’s restaurant on the Champs Elysees. Here, they were only allowed to occupy a premises if they displayed a white “M” to blend in with the rest of the lighting along the classy boulevard. So white it is. The only white McDonald’s “M” in the world, I’m told.

For someone who never eats there, I’m very McKnowledgeable.

To read my story, you can purchase my book I’M NEVER ILL (A journey through brain surgery and beyond…) from my website:

Tea bags and deodorant

I have strong principles where it comes to tea bags. I feel that it is such a waste to use one per cup. I have been criticised for my meanness regarding this, but I am even prepared to use one for THREE cups if I am making tea for those who like it weak. There’s a lot of sense in this. However, when it comes to using deodorant, I sometimes squirt a little too much. This means that I am frequently having to raid our special deodorant storage drawers in the spare room, often at the expense of a ticking off from the wife for using too much. My defence is that it is offset by my savings in tea bags.

I thought that I’d share this potentially life-changing idea with all my friends. REMEMBER – Thriftiness in the tea bag department means more squirts.

Facebook advertising

When I built my website, I used the web-building site Included with the package that I purchased is $50 worth of Facebook advertising and $75 of Google+ advertising. I haven’t investigated the Google+ side of things yet, and I’m not sure how that works. I’ll check it out soon. However, I decided to indulge in a little Facebook promotion. Having set up a Facebook page dedicated to my writing, I spent about £10 (about $15 US I think) on “boosting my posts”. This enabled me to reach about 6,000 Facebook users, a dozen or so who have since “liked” my Facebook page (this means that they will receive all posts from this page), and fewer than that have actually downloaded a copy. Again, like my Twitter activities, I targeted groups that I felt may be interested in the book.

It seems that only about 1% of the targeted users even bothered to click on the ad. It is now becoming evident just how uninterested the world is in my work. It came as a surprise to find out the enormity of the task that is facing me from my own endeavours, and how vitally important it is to find credible people who are prepared to read, endorse and share my book in order to get this thing off the ground – people like the university lecturer who used my book as learning material for student nurses in a lecture.

I see it as both a challenge and a responsibility, and I am driven by a “Thomas Edison style” determination, where each failure (I use that word loosely) is just a stepping stone to reaching my ultimate goal.

I’m not even slightly discouraged by the apathy that I’ve been shown. On the contrary, it is MY responsibility to make people WANT this book, and I WILL do just that.

Please visit my website

Twitter @markdpritchard

My Twitter account is gradually, day by day, gathering more and more followers. At the moment there are in excess of 5,500 receiving my tweets. I’m increasing the numbers by following groups or individuals that are concerned with cancer, brain injuries, nursing, and e-books. By doing this, my bio and my book is on view for them to choose whether or not to follow me back. Some, though, just naturally return the “follow” without any special interest in me or what I have on offer. I also use lots of #hashtags when I tweet posts that are unrelated to my book, attracting interest from people who are interested in many other things such as sport, wildlife, outdoor activities etc.

I feel a little as though I’m spamming people and hounding them, but I also feel that it is so important that I do whatever is necessary to share our story. I believe it to be a two-way thing. Because I’m confident in my book and the enjoyment/benefits that people will derive from reading it, in addition to the natural, selfish marketing for my own good, I feel that I have a responsibility – even a duty – to share it with as many people as possible. Along the way, I have connected with some very interesting and kind people, many of whom sometimes “retweet” my posts to their own followers, as I do for them. I’ve even recently been randomly followed by a famous 70s/80s recording artist for whom I have great admiration. That was a little buzz for me.