The Writer’s Cut

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You are invited to the launch of my equestrian mystery Spiral of Hooves: The Writer’s Cut aka The Second Edition on August 7th, 2017, which is incidentally my 64th birthday.

Join me on Facebook or Goodreads as I discuss how the novel came about, my horse world, being an MS warrior, and my future from motorbikes and longboats to spacecraft and airships. I will answer any question posed…within my ability to do so. Of course, there will be prizes from signed copies to other goodies.

The party begins at 10 am. MDT (1700 BST; 1200 EDT; 0900 PST) on Facebook – see HERE for details and invite. (Facebook says in Boise but the party is online so come as you are.) I will also drop in and out of Goodreads to chat and answer questions – HERE – whenever I can slip off Facebook.

If any authors are willing to join the Facebook party it would let me sit back and chill for an hour – or visit Goodreads – while you entertain the fans and promote yourself. Just ask for a slot and I can add you to the schedule.

ARC copies are still available to read in PDF format, and there is still time to review Spiral of Hooves before the release on August 7th.

I can also supply blog copy to anyone willing to post about the novel and my world.

The following links should also direct you to specific Amazon sites:
https://www.createspace.com/3893100
http://www.amazon.com/dp/1548508411
http://www.amazon.ca/dp/1548508411
http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1548508411
http://www.amazon.de/dp/1548508411
http://www.amazon.es/dp/1548508411
http://www.amazon.fr/dp/[1548508411
http://www.amazon.it/dp/[1548508411
…………………

 

  • BLURB: In Canada, researcher Armand Sabatier witnesses what could be the murder of groom Odette Fedon, but traumatic images from his past smother his memory, and a snowstorm buries the evidence. Harassed by nightmares but fighting through them, Armand remembers the crime a few months later. By then he is in England, where he is dragged into a plot involving international sport horse breeding.

Suspecting everyone around him, Armand is forced to brave the past that he has kept buried. But what made Armand leave France? Where did he learn to survive and fight for justice? Why is the English rider Carly Tanner treading the same path as the first victim, Odette?

Can he save Carly before he has more blood on his hands?

  • Genre – Mystery-thriller
  • Tone of the book – serious but not gory
  • Target audience – young adult upwards interested in horses and mysteries

 

I hope to see you at The Writer’s Cut Party.

 

 

Edge of a Knife – a review

 

As both a reader and writer, I am fascinated by alternative histories so when Robert Edward mentioned his book on Goodreads, I was game for a read.

EdgeOfAKnife

Edge of a Knife (The American Mage War #1)

by Robert Edward (Goodreads Author)

It has been thirteen years since southern war wizards decisively defeated the Union Army and gained independence for the Confederate States of America. In 1876, the United States is a shattered nation. It stands alone, beset by enemies in a world torn apart by the terrible power of magic. Across the globe, kings and presidents, emperors and generals command sorcerers who harness the four elements of earth, air, water, and fire to wreak havoc on their enemies.
A magical fault line divides North America, where the hydromancers of the United States and pyromancers of the Confederate States maintain an uneasy truce. Both nations race to acquire new and more powerful magic to ensure victory when the next war inevitably comes.
In a Pittsburg tavern, Jared Gilsom, son of a wealthy shipping magnate, smuggler, and part-time thief, meets a strange woman. She has ties to an enigmatic group working both inside and outside the Union government to develop the North’s magical arsenal. A chance battle with southern agents in the city streets draws Jared into their mission. After retrieving a vital treasure from a renegade hydromancer, Jared joins a clandestine raid into the heart of the Confederacy. There, he finds a nation on the brink of its own collapse, where ambitious opportunists wait only for the right moment to seize power.
As Jared and his companions fight their way out of the South, the world continues to spiral into chaos. And magic will either save America or ensure its destruction.

Review 3.8*

My passion for Alternative history began with the American Civil War when I read Ward Moore’s Bring the Jubilee. So, I was drawn to this alternative when again the South was victorious. However, in Robert Edward’s well-crafted world in ‘Edge of a Knife’ magic has somehow emerged although why is a key theme of this novel.

In the opening pages, I was pulled into the story, and this alternative world worked, and the setting of post-alternate American Civil War felt right. At first, the magic was not overt or an all-conquering force. Later in the tale, we discover what has happened to reawaken magic, although Edwards doesn’t reveal all even as the novel concludes. Roll on Book 2 or maybe even in 3.

Anyway, the story was intriguing as it developed, with neat political parallels as well as the central plot. Jared as the main POV character evolved steadily, and a vivid picture emerged, although the others were less vivid – but then we were never inside their heads and nor was Jared. Action in other settings meant that the POV changed, more often to Confederate characters adding another perspective that generated events that crossed with the main character’s quest.

A few scenes from a political perspective felt like exposition, although those scenes added to the world-building and in one case foreshadowed a concluding scene.

At the midpoint, the stakes are raised, and the unexpected twists work. Beyond that key point, there was a sense that the story was building to a climax – a climax that hinted at possible events in Book 2. The events kept racing and twisting as the satisfying ending unfolded. One of the concluding scenes from the perspective of another nation – no spoilers on offer – was unexpected even though subtly foreshadowed. These scenes set up Book 2 and revealed a clever twist that I didn’t see coming.

I recommend the read for those that enjoy alternative history. I can’t say if the American Civil War period is correct, but to me, that felt right. As for stars, I was wavering as I finished the novel between three and four. The inconsistency of some spellings – Pittsburgh with an extra ‘h’ – and some sloppy sentence constructions pointed to a lack of final editing. However, these didn’t ruin the read.

Story – four stars

Setting/World-building – four stars

Structure – four stars

Readability – four stars

Editing – three stars

Launch Minus and Counting

Equestrian thrills return on August 7th with the re-release of my first mystery set in the horse world. (Yes, there is a second in the pile of drafts.)

First published in December 2013 but out of print since I left the publisher, “Spiral of Hooves” returns in a new edition revised to address readers’ comments. For instance, one of the sub-plots was out of character so I have removed it.

Although this is a new edition of the eBook, this is the first paperback edition – by ‘popular demand’. I am preparing for the August 7th launch on social media and I am looking for some input and assistance beforehand and in the week of the launch.

  • BLURB: In Canada, researcher Armand Sabatier witnesses what could be the murder of groom Odette Fedon, but traumatic images from his past smother his memory, and a snowstorm buries the evidence. Harassed by nightmares but fighting through them, Armand remembers the crime a few months later. By then he is in England, where he is dragged into a plot involving international sport horse breeding.

  Suspecting everyone around him, Armand is forced to brave the past that he has kept buried. But what made Armand leave France? Where did he learn to survive and fight for justice? Why is the English rider Carly Tanner treading the same path as the first victim, Odette?

  Can he save Carly before he has more blood on his hands?

  • Genre – Mystery-thriller
  • Tone of the book – serious but not gory
  • Target audience – young adult upwards interested in horses and mysteries

RolandEbookMax

I plan to write an ‘interview with ‘the author’ that re-lives my past before the stable door closes and I forget all the events that lead to me writing “Spiral of Hooves”. If you have any suggestions as to crucial questions I should ask myself, please ask them in the comments.

During the launch week, I would welcome other bloggers running the interview along with some blurb on the book and the cover image (as above). I can supply the post material beforehand if you let me know, either below or by sending an email via the Contact Me form.

If you would like to read an ARC [advance review copy] of the novel, I can supply one in exchange for an unbiased review. The more reviews that appear around the launch the wider the impact.

If you are on Goodreads, the Want to Read shelf is also important, so please add “Spiral of Hooves” to your shelf.

On August 7th, I will be on Goodreads to answer questions at https://www.goodreads.com/author/6828334.Roland_Clarke/questions and any asked in advance.

I will also be at https://www.facebook.com/roland.clarke.79 where I am hosting a Launch Party. If anyone is willing to co-host that event, then I would be grateful for a stand-in while I take a break on what will be a busy day.

Do you have any further suggestions that could make this a successful launch on August 7th?

#IWSG – Lesson Learned

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

Making time to write this monthly post for Insecure Writer’s Support Group Day ties in with this month’s optional question?

July 5 Question: What is one valuable lesson you’ve learned since you started writing?

Don’t rush any stage of the writing process. Make time and take time.

It took me thirteen years to write my debut novel, Spiral of Hooves, which was published in 2013. Republishing the novel in a revised edition – with minor changes to address reviewers’ comments – is taking time. I’m not rushing the process as I’ve learnt that rushing leads to ‘misteaks’.

A part of learning that lesson has been realising why publishers take time releasing a book – editing in all its stages, design including the cover, and setting a publication date etcetera.

Which leads me to the crucial date for the re-release of ‘Spiral of Hooves’ in Kindle and paperback– August 7th – which also happens to be my birthday, taking me further into my 60s.

 

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Cover design by Jonathan Temples. Cover photo by Nick Perry

 

A note about the new cover. My friends Jane & Nick Perry found and supplied his photo of my other friend Sarah-Jane Brown of Shoestring Eventing which my cover designer Jonathan Temples turned into this great image. There is a great reverse for the paperback as well and this is, in fact, the first paperback edition.

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Purpose of IWSG: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting:  The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting! Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post.

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG

Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.

The awesome co-hosts for the July 5 posting of the IWSG are Tamara Narayan, Pat Hatt, Patricia Lynne, Juneta Key, and Doreen McGettigan!

 

The Secret Garden – a review

I have joined the Insecure Writers Support Group Bookclub on Goodreads and for June/July, we are reading Frances Hodgson Burnett’s classic children’s book The Secret Garden.  The Club says, “This book was chosen to demonstrate characterization, which was voted #1 for what you would like to learn to do better. Even if you’ve read this book in the past, reread it with fresh eyes, keeping a look out for characterization examples.” So, this is my review.

The Secret Garden

The Secret Garden

by Frances Hodgson Burnett

When orphaned Mary Lennox comes to live at her uncle’s great house on the Yorkshire Moors, she finds it full of secrets. The mansion has nearly one hundred rooms, and her uncle keeps himself locked up. And at night, she hears the sound of crying down one of the long corridors.

The gardens surrounding the large property are Mary’s only escape. Then, Mary discovers a secret garden, surrounded by walls and locked with a missing key. One day, with the help of two unexpected companions, she discovers a way in. Is everything in the garden dead, or can Mary bring it back to life?

 

Review *****

I never read ‘The Secret Garden’ as a child, nor any of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s books. Now in my second childhood, this was, therefore, my first encounter and I enjoyed the read even if there are failings from a writer’s perspective in the 21st century.

However, as I started reading I found the descriptions and characterisations were pulling me into a secret world. The author had a way of using short phrases to capture a sense of the characters and settings. Maybe the technique would be hard to replicate today, but it worked in the context of the novel and the period in which it is set. This was a time before the First World War for both characters and author. This may explain a certain innocence that two world wars dispelled.

Locked into the words and images, I was drawn deeper into Mary’s world and her explorations. Robin was a cute character that felt almost human in his mannerisms. Some might say anthropomorphic – Anthropomorphism is the attribution of human traits, emotions, and intentions to non-human entities – but for me, the characteristics fitted the bird I knew from growing up in England. He becomes the character that ‘unlocks’ the secret garden and the healing that Mary and others need.

When she was in the garden, I could see it and sense it. Some might feel that Dickon is unreal and yet he came alive for me, first in what his sister Martha said about him and then when Mary met him. I’ve been lucky that I have known a few special people like him and the character echoed memories of those that have a rapport with wild animals.

When Mary found the source of the crying, the book added another character and another level. Damaged characters and healing is a theme from the start of the novel, but it’s the secret garden that’s the catalyst. I liked all the interactions between the characters, and the use of mirror images that Mary and others must face to grow.

When Spring arrived, there was magic is in the air. That is what makes this book work for me and why I suspect that it still survives alongside other children’s classics. Frances Hodgson Burnett captures that feeling of magic that in many ways exist in the natural world around us. There are elements that felt wrong to me reading in 2017, but omniscient POV, idealised social situations, and outdated attitudes were, unfortunately, the norm when the novel was written so they didn’t spoil my enjoyment – just deducted one star as a writer with a conscience. But that star magically re-appeared.