#IWSG – Blurb Blitz

Time for the monthly Insecure Writer’s Support Group post and my latest news on the writing front.

First Fevered Fuse, which is now with the London-based editor friend who nursed Spiral of Hoovesto publication. Hopefully, her copy/developmental/substantive edit will give me the final inspiration to finish my first Snowdon Shadowspolice procedural. Then I will submit the manuscript – or synopsis etc – to a publisher, possibly a small UK press, Crooked Cat / Darkstroke Books.

If anyone else has submission suggestions, let me know, please.

As for other ongoing writing, I’ve passed on doing a NaNoWriMo this year, but did do another WEP/IWSG Challenge – https://rolandclarke.com/2021/10/21/wep-iwsg-october-challenge-the-scream/  – and will be working on the final one for 2021. December’s Challenge theme is ‘Narcissus ‘and my mind is already pursuing that one down a burrow. Clue:  a daffodil – the Welsh national flower – is a narcissus, so tune in next month for another Sparkle Anwyl tale.

A detective confronts a deadly foe in the mist to save her wife from Death

Not Fevered Fuse, but a frightening aftermath – or a trigger. Time for the Blurb Blitz, my attempt at answering the monthly question, so please prepare for more weirdness.

First, I must thank the Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh for all he does – and thanks for creating the Insecure Writer’s Support Group without whom my writing would be non-existent…and every post might be ‘farewell’.

Second, my thanks to all those whose encouraging comments ensure I scribble onwards. Apologies for failing to reply to every comment. I try at least to press ‘like’ when I’ve read them. I do attempt an all-inclusive answer sometimes.

Finally, don’t forget to visit more active writers via the IWSG site, and to read better answers to this month’s intriguing question.

Insecure Writer’s Support Group

Although the question is optional, I’m again tempted to answer.

November 3 question – What’s harder to do, coming up with your book title or writing the blurb?

A: Blurbs are energy sinks whereas titles are lightbulb moments.

All Nine often used to come to me, I mean the Muses:

But I ignored them…

Okay, I’ll explain – in a rambling way as that was the cryptic answer – as usual.

So far, my book titles have emerged organically, either in the early stages of inspiration or as I wrote the first draft. For instance, Spiral of Hooves was called that from early drafts – at least ‘hooves’ was always there… and the ‘spiral’ followed along with the breeding – DNA – plotline. The proposed equestrian thriller sequels, Tortuous Terrain and Suicide Seat, were straightforward – endurance riding = terrain, and ‘suicide seat’ is a carriage driving expression.

As for the Snowdon Shadows police procedural series, that follows a pattern too. The initial entry – now Book 2 – was Fates Maelstrom, whose title arose from the original protagonist’s troubled/turbulent situation. Sparkle Anwyl was not the main POV in the first draft, but the title still fits as she moves centre-stage, investigating the crime.

Her story begins with Fevered Fuse, originally a set of shorts entitled Fevered Few – ‘Fevered’ as in her amnesia. ‘Few’ to ‘Fuse’ was an easy switch when the shorts/incidents/cases became triggers for Sparkle in solving the central crime.

Books 2 and 3 – drafted – arose in the same organic/rabbit hole way. Ruined Retreat (Book 3) was inspired by a neighbour in our Welsh residential park suggesting a crime spree killing residents. We had all retired/retreated to Snowdonia, where there are numerous ruins/castles, so…

Seeking a Knife (Book 2) arose from an A-to-Z Challenge in which I chose to write on the War of 1812. Anyway, the rabbit warren led to a title which fits the historical/contemporary plot.  Don’t ask why, yet, but it does. All I can say is:

All Nine often used to come to me, I mean the Muses:

But I ignored them: my girl was in my arms.

Now I’ve left my sweetheart: and they’ve left me,

And I roll my eyes, seeking a knife or rope.

But Heaven is full of gods: You came to aid me:

Greetings, Boredom, mother of the Muse.

Epigram 27 * Venetian Epigrams (1790)
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (28 August 1749 – 22 March 1832)

Other titles are similar in creation. But blurbs…well, that’s where I prevaricate, rewrite, reject, revise, and rip my hair out. Like first lines, openings, and synopses, I can never be satisfied with my attempts.

Well, not until I must set them in whatever material an agent/publisher/reader wants – as in my IWSG Anthology short Feathered Fire.

**

The awesome co-hosts for this November 3 posting of the IWSG are Kim Lajevardi, Victoria Marie Lees, Joylene Nowell Butler, Erika Beebe, and Lee Lowery!

How can I be repetitive asking you to agree these guys are the best? Well, they are – especially as they all have concerns, fears, and insecurities. But they struggle on, so ticker-tape applause for all of them – plus toasts with the best brew available.

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!

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.

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 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!

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.

For more on the IWSG monthly post and links to other participants visit:

https://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/iwsg-sign-up.html

#IWSG – Expectations Dashed

Like for last month’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group post, I’m back grinding keys – well, mis-stabbing…hunt & peck fail. So once more, this post has been assembled over time- please bear with the jumble.

No change with progress on Fevered Fuse – and other writing. That- has ground to almost nothing. I did manage my bi-monthly WEP/IWSG Challenge flash – another Sparkle & Kama incident: https://rolandclarke.com/2021/04/21/wep-iwsg-april-challenge-freedom-morning/

Writing even briefly about my Welsh duo might ensure my mind stays focused on Fevered Fuse even if that’s all. There’s no sign of a co-author – not even a glimmer. Did I expect one to turn up? Yes – initially. But then I realised any talented writer has their own projects so why work on someone else’s dream/delusion.

1st Expectation Dashed.

Mind break I.

I’m back at the keyboard, attempting to address the main reason I’m here – the monthly IWSG post.

First, thanks to the Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh for all you do – and thanks for creating the Insecure Writer’s Support Group without whom my writing would be non-existent…and March’s post might have been ‘farewell’.

Second, my thanks to all those whose encouraging comments ensure I scribble onwards.

Anyway, don’t forget to visit real writers via the IWSG site, and for better answers to this month’s challenging question.

Insecure Writer’s Support Group

Although the question is optional, I’m again tempted to answer.

May 5 question – Has any of your readers ever responded to your writing in a way that you didn’t expect? If so, did it surprise you?

In general, my followers here have been more encouraging than expected. However, that’s never surprised me as many are writers themselves, so they understand the need for recognition and positive feedback.

Back when I released my first (and only) novel into the world, Spiral of Hooves, I expected mixed reviews as few authors can claim 100% 5* feedback. However, although I received some 5* reviews, one reader reacted in an unexpected way given the background to the book – a reaction echoed in a couple of other places.

For those unfamiliar with my background, I was an equestrian journalist and photographer as well as an event organiser. More of my equestrian career can be found in this dated interview just before I retired in 2010: http://horseytalk.net/HorseyInterviews/RolandClarke.html

Roland Clarke (Eventing Magazine) & Jane Perry (Horse & Hound) interviewing winners at Tweseldown Horse Trials. Photo: Nick Perry (H&H)

So, I knew ‘eventing’, the sport at the heart of my novel. Yet this reviewer said, ‘It’s missing an understanding of the horse world that makes someone who is immersed in it want to read the book.’

Guess what my reaction was.

Annoyed, yes – and frustrated. I also laughed as other reviewers from the horse world rated it worth at least four stars. I admit there were elements I knew might be controversial – like the foxhunting debate. But not the world I worked in, even if I was a poor rider. And I’d researched anything alien to my life, by reading and talking to experts.

2nd Expectation Dashed.

Mind break II.

At least, this was a minority opinion. Although, something discouraged people from buying the novel.

When those you interact with express their interest and say they ‘can’t wait until the book is out’, you expect a flood of readers – from riders to officials. Well, I did – vainly. Not even a trickle of sales or a smidgen of reviews. Same applied to family desperate for a copy.

3rd Expectation Dashed.

Suffice to say, I wrote a sequel, Tortuous Terrain, but one that may never appear – not that I’m expecting it to. It was enjoyable to write though.

Hilda Donahue and Tuff Stuff climb Cougar Rock at Tevis. Photo by Gore/Baylor Photographyhttps://eventingnation.com/hilda-donahue-tackles-the-tevis-cup/

Lessons learnt?

Maybe.

Research – Readers – Reviews – Reasons – Reactions – Recognition

***

The awesome co-hosts for the May 5 posting of the IWSG areErika Beebe,PJ Colando,Tonja Drecker,Sadira Stone, andCathrina Constantine!

How can I be repetitive asking you to agree these guys are the best? Especially as they all have concerns, fears, and insecurities. But they struggle on, so ticker-tape applause for all of them – plus toasts with the best brew available.

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!

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.

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 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!

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.

For more on the IWSG monthly post and links to other participants visit:

https://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/iwsg-sign-up.html

#IWSG – Inspiring Artwork

Today brings us closer to the release of the new IWSG anthology, Voyagers: The Third Ghost on May 5, 2020. I can’t wait to see what other contributors have penned.

Review copies have been ordered and the eBooks uploaded. These are the purchase links:

Amazon – Print https://www.amazon.com/dp/193984472X/ Kindle https://www.amazon.com/Voyagers-Third-Ghost-Yvonne-Ventresca-ebook/dp/B083C4WPR5/

Barnes & Noblehttps://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/voyagers-yvonne-ventresca/1135912991?ean=2940163430857

ITuneshttps://books.apple.com/ca/book/voyagers-the-third-ghost/id1493413956

Kobo – https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/voyagers-the-third-ghost

Today also sees ‘Flying Fur’, my post about the emergence of my tale. Read the post on the IWSG Anthology blog at https://iwsganthologies.blogspot.com/2020/02/in-spotlight-roland-clarke-author-of.html?showComment=1580912370761#c7777400888558189756

Posts from the other authors will appear in forthcomings weeks and months – as will other news on Voyagers: The Third Ghost.

I’m grateful the Ninja Captain himself, Alex J. Cavanaugh who created the Insecure Writer’s Support Group as they do such amazing things for writers, from the annual Anthology to the IWSG monthly blog post. Many thanks, Captain Alex.

And that IWSG day is here again – and so am I, less insecure after jumping that first Anthology hurdle.

Anyway, on to the monthly question which creates so many fascinating posts – apologies in advance for the slow visits on my part – I’m wading through January’s email backlog still.

February 5 question – Has a single photo or work of art ever inspired a story? What was it and did you finish it?

Although, inspiration comes from various directions including dreams, I’ll have to admit that photos and works of art do trigger my mind to create.

First off, I was a photographer so trained my eye to frame a picture and learnt to appreciate other photographers’ work.

Borde Hill Horse Trials publicity shot – Photo: Roland Clarke

While editing my debut novel, Spiral of Hooves, I thought about the sequel, provisionally called ‘Tortuous Terrain’, and again about crime in the horse world. But not the sport of eventing where I worked as a journalist and photographer.

I had considered Endurance but never photographed it, although there is a short scene in ‘Spiral of Hooves‘ foreshadowing the sequel’s sport. But it was this photo from the 100-mile Tevis Cup that inspired the main plot-line. However, another equestrian sport, Barrel Racing is also featured – and I have taken some photos of my step nieces competing in that.

My wife’s photo of Snowdon on this website’s header and above my desk is one of the inspirations behind my series Snowdon Shadows, police procedural stories featuring Sparkle Anwyl.

Which brings us to art and a decades-long appreciation for Dutch masterpieces. Although my initial appreciation was for 17th century works as my family owned a few, it was Van Gogh that capped the passion. So, Café Terrace at Night (1888) is special and will be the inspiration for the WEP/IWSG Challenge flash creation in two weeks. But I need to work on the new case for Sparkle and Kama, ‘Custody Chain’, even if Skadi wanted to meet Vincent at a Stadacona café in 1892.

**

The awesome co-hosts for the The awesome co-hosts for the February 5 posting of the IWSG are Lee Lowery, Ronel Janse van Vuuren, Jennifer Hawes, Cathrina Constantine, and Tyrean Martinson!

(Once again, you must agree these guys are the best. They all have commitments too – but they volunteer. Ticker-tape applause for all of them – plus toasts too.)

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!

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.

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 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!

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.

Equestrian Author Spotlight

Last year, I was interviewed by Carly Kade for her Equestrian Author Spotlight series.

Here is a link to that interview, published today:
https://www.carlykadecreative.com/blog/equestrian-author-spotlight-meet-roland-clarke?fbclid=IwAR0r0jy9ZCLNMiep-IC7OQV3TVIBPajPuSf_7tgUAL0x3_S-qdEPhpJCFro

I have made an update on the post in the comments as my Work in Progress – well, my novel WIP – has changed. Story of my life.

Joseph Barnaby – a review

Thursday_horizons

When my Kindle died recently, I had to revert to my pile of reconstituted trees and so today’s Thursday Creation Review is the most recent paperback I finished. Beyond that, I will be reviewing a book that I’m reading – drum-roll – on my new Kindle Fire 7.

That new acquisition was a problem as almost all my 500+ Kindle titles are on my UK account – and Amazon stopped me buying a new device from their UK site to send to my US address. So, the new Kindle is linked to my US account which has only a couple of dozen titles – enough for now, even if some are in my paperback collection.

Anyway, time for this review.

NOTE: book release on October 5th 2018.

 JosephBarnaby

Joseph Barnaby

by

Susan Roebuck (Goodreads Author)

Stand by your beliefs – even if it means going to the end of the Earth.

By standing up for his principles, horse farrier Joseph Barnaby lost everything. Now, when a personal vendetta goes too deep to fight, he escapes to the Portuguese island of Madeira where he finds work on a small farm only accessible by boat.

The balmy climate and never-ending supply of exotic fruit, vegetables, and honey make it sound like paradise. But, for Joseph, it’s the ideal place to hide from the world.

Not everyone is prepared to give up on life’s misfortunes. The local fishing village has its own surprises and the inhabitants of Quinta da Esperança have more grit in them than the pebbled beach that borders the property.

Review 4.6 stars

When I discovered that the main protagonist was “horse farrier Joseph Barnaby”, my ears pricked, and the Portuguese island of Madeira made this a Must Read. When I won this excellent novel in an Advance Giveaway from author Susan Roebuck – but with no obligation to write anything about Joseph Barnaby – the book moved to the top of my reading pile.

The exact reason why Joe Barnaby escapes his life with horses in England is carefully revealed in flashbacks that felt at moments like a Dick Francis mystery. In contrast, his new life working on a small farm near the fishing village of Quinta da Esperança became a wonderful romance with both the island and with a young deaf woman, Sofia – although there are obstacles thrown in their path, including Joe’s past.

For me, the romance worked, and I was swept along; plus, the horseracing mystery spurred my ‘detective’ skills. I began to suspect what might have happened as the clues were slipped out, and the resolution satisfied me – as did the romantic denouement.

I must admit that there were some minor moments where my equestrian brain questioned the odd bit of phrasing, but slight, and even as an equestrian journalist, I have made mistakes. I was interested in the way that Riding for the Disabled featured – having personal connections to that inspiring movement.

The settings were vividly described, and I was immersed in the story because of those descriptions – and through the wonderful cast.

There were some great characters, from the main protagonists of Joe and Sofia to the supporting cast, from memorable fishermen to the two principal antagonists. The latter were not as devious as the ones that challenge my brain in crime novels, but they displayed traits that kept the protagonists challenged. Sofia’s bees are characters themselves as well as an inspirational community. And I must mention Ed the donkey – just read and find out.

One woman was elusively mysterious, adding a clever thread to the story that wove through so many elements – I’m avoiding spoilers here. I want to say that there are a few clever threads, from the island’s past to the medical themes.

Sofia’s deafness seemed to be understood by the author and sensitively handled – adding to my engagement with the character. How others interacted with her was well contrasted, with some signing, others lip-reading, and those frustrated by her.

This novel was the perfect combination for me – horses and romance in a Portuguese setting. A strong 4.6 stars and a recommended quick read.

Story – four stars

Setting/World-building – four stars

Authenticity – four stars

Characters – five stars

Structure – five stars

Readability – five stars

Editing – five stars

Horsemanship – a review

Thursday_horizons

Horses will always have a place in my heart, so today’s Thursday Creation Review is special in many ways. When my freelance equestrian writer friend, Gina McKnight collated some quotes from horse people around the world, I was interested, especially as these were an extension to the interviews that she had done with them. And one of those interviews was with me – https://ginamc.blogspot.com/2014/02/roland-clarke.html. (My quote, though, is only in the book so you will have to buy it…)

Horsemanship

Horsemanship

by

Gina McKnight (Goodreads Author)

0.0  ·  Rating details ·  0 Ratings  ·  0 Reviews

Journey through country stables, city trails, working round pens, and shining arenas where you will find equestrian wisdom from around the world. “What does horsemanship mean to you?” The question asked of cowboys, horse trainers, clinicians, equine writers, eventers, bull riders, barrel racers, and more! As a freelance writer, Gina McKnight connects with amazing horsemen and horsewomen. They are the inspiration for this book. To read their entire interview, visit www.ginamc.blogspot.com. Thanks to each one for their contribution to this volume. Special thanks to Zorka for inspiration and motivation. Her charismatic character, along with her engaging art, continue to encourage and support our love for horses. A portion of the proceeds from this book will be donated to local horse rescues

Review 5 stars

This collection is more than a taster as it contains some profound quotes by equestrian people from around the world who were interviewed by Gina McKnight over the last few years.

I enjoyed reading the diverse interpretations of ‘horsemanship’ and was not surprised at the overlap. Trust and respect kept being mentioned as well as understanding the horse’s language.

“To me horsemanship means two-way communication between horse and rider based on mutual trust, respect and affection. It is more than physical communication, it is mental and emotional as well. Horsemanship leads to an intuitive connection so that communication requires no conscious thought.”

Lee Atterbury

Wisconsin, USA

Equestrian

Author of Big Fracking Mess

www.leeatterbury.com

 

Another theme in the ‘thoughts’ is how important it is to develop a special relationship on an equal basis. In fact, that seems to be the hidden message to many regardless of discipline or nationality.

“To me, horsemanship, is having the ability to establish and then develop a productive relationship with a horse, which subsequently leads to earning the horse’s trust and confidence in you.”

Bill Slader

Ohio, USA

Equine Photographer

www.billsladerphotography.com

 

I loved reading about all those subtle ways of asking a horse to flourish, not forcing them but forging a natural bond. These horse people understand that a rider must feel what is best for the horse. This is real teamwork – when human and horse are working together for fun or sport. We are reminded that the horse can be a trainer and a partner. And there is another crucial bond.

“The definition of horsemanship is basically the skill, art or practise of riding horses. What it means to me is love. Pure love. Love of a beast that is so big he can squash you like a grape…but he won’t…because he loves you, too.”

Karen Miscovich

Florida, USA

Optimal Horse Environment Horse Boarding at Picalata Farms

 

There are pages of horse wisdom here, and some of my favourite equestrian writers share their thoughts as well – why not, they are equestrians too.

“…It would make for better equine/human relationships if the human tried to think more like the horse when in the saddle instead of assuming the horse is thinking/feeling human thoughts and emotions.”

TK Lukas

Texas, USA

Equestrian

Author of Orphan Moon

www.tklukas.com

 

I have watched many proponents of horsemanship with their own techniques and yet, as this book shows so well, their approaches overlap – they seem to have become unified with the horse.

Glimpse that through this collection and at Gina McKnight’s site – www.gmcknight.com

HorseCoverRC