The Bestseller Experiment is back!

Mark Stay Writes

After a bit of a post-publication break, the Bestseller Experiment podcast has returned, with an episode we recorded… back in September…

Okay, so that’s maybe cheating a bit, but it’s an excellent episode featuring three of Orion’s top publicist sharing their secrets of the trade.

Elaine Egan won an award this week for her excellent work on Lucy Vine’s debut Hot Mess (including getting her a much-prized guest spot on our beloved podcast), Lauren Woosey who recently arranged our interview Victoria Aveyard (tune in next week), and Virginia Woolstencroft who squeezed us into the busy schedule of some bloke called Bryan Cranston. They’re full of really useful advice, so if you want in on some tip-top publicity tips, listen here now.

And speaking of amazing publicity, our wonderful publicist Lisa Shakespeare got us a double page spread in Publishers Weekly. You can read the online version here

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I don’t feel exposed any more!

As you know the cypress trees where ripped out on Sunday, and then we felt very exposed to the elements for several days. The wind whizzed across the field, and even the chickens found it rather chilly, as they puffed their feathers up. A little electric fence was put up to stop the horses from venturing into our garden, and I’m very pleased to say it worked. But today was the day where our new fence would go up.

Before the men arrived this morning, I went and turned off the electric fence from the battery. I was hoping I’d done it right, and I had. I didn’t want to electrocute either myself, or the guys coming to do my fence. That would not have been a very good start. Since the trees came out, the garden has been a bit of a mess. Well, there was no point me tidying the end of the garden, because I didn’t know what mess the fence men were going to make.

Here is a quick reminder of how my garden looked this morning.IMG_4306

But today our wonderful fencing guys came round to give us back our privacy. They arrived a little after 8.30am, all ready for a hard days work. And boy did they work. They told me what they were going to do, and then they just got on with it. There were only 2 guys, but it was like they had a whole army working on our fence. I supplied them with drink, and homemade ginger biscuits, and they worked solidly until they were done.

They had all sorts of tools with them, some noisy, some quiet. They parked in the field behind, so the horses weren’t allowed to come out and play today. By 11 o’clock this is how far they’d got..



They didn’t even stop for lunch, they just worked straight through until they’d finished. I just got on with what I need to do inside the house, and if they needed anything they just called. They didn’t even use the loo! No they didn’t pee in the field, well I don’t think they did. I was writing in the office, and every time I glanced up, I saw that more fencing had gone up. They finished a little after 2pm, and cleared away all their belongings, and even filled in any gaps at the back of the garden with soil they found, and raked level the end of the garden.

This is what it looked like when they’d finished.IMG_4308


Thank you so much Steve and your mate from Firwood Fencing. You were amazing! They’re a very small company just these 2 guys, but they’re brilliant, friendly and very professional.

Now I’ll let the ground settle, and then sort out the chickens new shed and my greenhouses.

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Sunday 5th November 2017 – Timber!!!!!

For many people the 5th of November is synonymous with firework and Guy Fawkes and the failed plot to blow up the King and the houses or Parliament. But in our family the 5th of November will be the date that we finally got rid of our 10, 8 meter tall Cyprus trees at the bottom of our garden, and got our entire garden space back from the horrors of the conifer family!! Paul and his lovely assistant (not Debbie Mcgee) worked very hard, from just before 9am until they’d finished at about 2pm. They used a large tractor/grabby thing to pull the trees out, roots and all. We now have so much more light that is coming into the house, and have a very different view. We are having a new fence up in on Thursday of this week, and then I can get the greenhouses up and the chickens in their new shed at the end of the garden sorted. All that is stopping the horses, in the field at the back from venturing into our garden is a very thin electric fence. Only time will tell if it works. But if the horses do come in the garden, I can save up their droppings. Not sure what the chickens will make of them though.

Here’s how it all unfolded yesterday…..

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Bodiam Castle – Wednesday 1st November

It’s been a while since I written a blog, but I’ve not been able to do any more in my garden, as I’m still waiting for the trees to come down….more about them later. Also living out in the middle of nowhere, the internet connection is a little ….crap, shit…and several more, slightly firmer swear words, have been said by the whole family recently. Sometimes the internet disappears completely, where it goes is anyones guess. But last week our communications company connected us to “fibre”. The amount of times we had to turn the little black box off, leave for 30 minutes, and then turn it back on again was ridiculous. But after numerous phone calls from Mark (who got quite cross with them). Well, we were paying for a service we weren’t getting. It seems to be better now. Not excellent, but much better than it was. We’re all hoping that it lasts.

The kids have been on half term for the last 2 weeks. Yes I was surprised as well when they told me. Seems like they’ve blocked all the 5 INSET days together. Still not a problem, I don’t mind. The kids have been busy revising and doing their homework. Every time they needed to use the internet for their homework, I had to take them to our nearest Sainsbury’s (7 miles away) so they could sit in the stores cafe and use the wifi. I bought them a drink and snack, so that’s ok. I’d leave them in the cafe for a couple of hours while I ran my errands, and then came back and pick them up. Hopefully now our internet is sorted (fingers crossed) I won’t have to do that anymore.

So, as they’ve been working very hard, on Wednesday we went out to have some fun. We went to Bodiam Castle, which we’ve been to before, but it’s always good to go back to. There weren’t many people wandering about, as most kids were back to school. The weather was overcast, but dry, and there was a chill in the air. Well it is November after all, so we should expect that. We arrived about 11.30am. It takes just over an hour to drive from our house, and we weren’t in any major rush. We took a packed lunch with us, and wandered round the grounds for a bit first, and then found a bench under a tree to sit and have our lunch. If you’ve not been here before the castle is surrounded by a moat, which is an excellent form of protection, and set in some amazing grounds and woodlands.


We had tickets for 1pm for a guided tour of the inside of the castle, so after our lunch we had a little more time to spare before our tour, so wandered around a bit more. In the moat there masses of huge carp fish, and loads of ducks. The ducks are very noisy, and the fish know to congregate by the bridge for any food that is thrown in the water by the visitors. We didn’t feed the fish, we’re good visitors.

Then it was time for us to go in the castle. Even though there’s not much of the inside left, we were given a map, and were allowed to explore. Some of the walls were still partially intact so you could figure out very easily which rooms were which. They all must have been very short back then, as the door frames were very low, and I could only just fit through them. I’m 5 foot 9. George, being the tall lanky thing he is had to duck, where as Emily, at 5 foot 5 was the perfect height to go through without any problems. We climbed some very steep stairs to go up to a couple of the towers, and were able to look down from the top of one tower into the castle below. If you’re afraid of heights, I wouldn’t recommend you do this.IMG_4282

We were exploring in the castle for a hour, and just as we left, the next tour was coming in. We then walked round a little more of the grounds, then popped to the shop to get Mark a little pressie, as he was stuck in his office at work all day in London. Poor little love, he usually misses all the fun. We then went into the cafe, where the kids had an ice cream (of course they did), and I had a cup of tea (much more sensible). Then it was time to come home. A good easy drive, with a few twisty turny roads, but no M25 and therefore no traffic jams. Bliss! We left about 3pm, and arrived home a little after 4pm.

Now, going back to the trees. Please keep your fingers, toes, legs, and anything else you can crossed that the trees at the bottom of our garden are coming out over the weekend (4th and 5th November). The farmer Paul and his mate are doing them. They’re also taking the trees out for our neighbour John, and they’ve nearly cut down most of his trees over the last couple of days. I’m really hoping that they’ll just continue all along the line of trees.

I will of course keep you updated on “tree-gate”, and make a little video, so you can see.  I’m looking forward to seeing how much larger and more open the garden is going to look. They’re putting all the trees, and the fencing in the field at the back and setting them on fire. I’ve bought some marshmallows and chocolate biscuits so we can all make s’mores. I may then dance naked round the trees singing “Ding dong, the trees are dead. Which old trees? The wicked trees!” But it depends on the weather. If it’s cold, raining and windy, I don’t think it’ll be a good thing to do. Just incase you’re wondering, that if I do dance round the fire naked, it WON’T be in the video. Sorry to disappoint.

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Launch day diary – Back to Reality

What a clever pair of boys you are…..

Mark Stay Writes

Yesterday, we finally launched our book Back to Reality (I may have mentioned it once or twice on social media), and it was an incredible day. Here’s what I wrote in my diary last night…

Monday 16th October

Publication day! I’m completely knackered, so here’s a quick summary…

My first solo Youtube Live starts well, but soon descends into confusion as it becomes apparent that there was some kind of problem with the link and a bunch of people were on the wrong Youtube page.

I’m stuck in a glass cubicle at work and I’m sweating, but the sales and reviews are coming in. The reviews are completely heartwarming.

We try and hook up with Mike Morris, but he’s in Dubai and we can’t connect so we have to drop his slot. Not great – nothing techie is working!

Second session with Desvaux is better and by now…

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The best novel I have ever read…..

My husband Mark is a very busy man. We’ve been married for 22 years, but if you actually work out how much time we tend to spend doing stuff together each day, it’s very little. But then we accept that each other has their own interests and hobbies.

Over the past year Mark has been working unbelievably hard on a novel, as part of a podcast The Bestseller experiment, that he has been writing with another Mark. It’s available today only for 99p, then the price goes up.

Go on, you know you want to read a really good, funny, intelligent book, so why not give it a go. Grab your copy here….

Now this experiment is over, will I have to spend more time with him?  I hope so…..

After a year a weekly podcasts, daily writing, and constant anxiety, the novel that I’ve been writing with Mark Desvaux as part of the Bestseller Experiment podcast is finally here!
It’s called Back to Reality, and it’s available exclusively on Kindle and I’d really like you to buy a copy today, please… especially as it’s 99p (or 99c in the US/Can/Aus/NZ) for launch day only – Monday October 16th.
But don’t just take my word for it…
We’ve been overwhelmed by the amazing quotes we’ve had from authors and the incredible support we’ve had from our launch team. A year’s blood, sweat and tears for just 99 of your British pence. And it’s a pacy story about living your dreams, with fun characters, rock and roll, and a bit with a cow. What more could you want from a book? Grab your copy here…

Happy reading!



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One week to go!

Mark Stay Writes

We publish our book BACK TO REALITY in just a week’s time on Monday October 16th.

And, for some reason, we thought it would be a good idea to have a week of daily podcasts (because, y’know, the pressure of publication isn’t nearly enough).

In today’s episode we talk blurbs and I read it out in my best sexy voiceover voice…


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