#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

The Cowgirl Jumped Over the Moon – a review

Engrossed in promoting my equestrian thriller, escaping to read about another horse world was strange and yet satisfying. This is my review:

Cowgirl_25613310

The Cowgirl Jumped Over the Moon

by Linda Ballou (Goodreads Author)

Gemcie and her Irish Hunter, Marshal, are about to capture the World Cup when a nasty fall dashes their chances. While she is mending, her arch rival seizes this opportunity to catch a ride on Marshal, and to seduce her young husband. Confused and dazed by her new circumstances, Gemcie heads for the high Sierras hoping the majestic spires that captured the heart of the father she never met will provide the answers she seeks. She finds strength and solace riding solo on the John Muir Trail, but a bear attack ends her time of introspection and places her in the care of a solitary cowboy manning a fire lookout. Brady, who seems to love animals more than people, shows her love and gives her the courage to get back in the saddle. Haunted by images of Marshal being abused by his owners, Gemcie returns to rescue him and fly high with him once more. Ballou’s prose gallops ahead at breakneck speed as she takes you along on this wild ride.

Review 5*

From the opening hook, Linda Ballou’s The Cowgirl Jumped Over the Moon paints a rich picture of not just the show jumping world that Gemcie had earned her place in through hard work and dedication. The accident that dashes the ambitions of Gemcie and her Irish Hunter, Marshal, leads to other events that unravel her life, create new sub plots and take Gemcie into another world dominated by the high Sierras and a different style of riding – western.

The language continues to evoke images and sensations, whether in the actions or the descriptions. We meet new characters, including horses, and, in the mountains, we meet Brady. His portrayal triggers questions for Gemcie and, for this reader, but the challenge is a crucial peak in the novel, handled well. She might baulk at the challenges in the high Sierras, at first, but she is drawn on as the reader is by the plotlines.

However, although I liked how the story unfolded and the descriptive richness, two elements threw me from my ride-read. In Ballou’s defence, these are style issues, I suspect. First, I had problems with the transitions in scenes that changed from one paragraph to another – I am used to a scene break. The other area was Point of View – POVs. At first, I thought the story was head-hopping too much from one character to another then back. But I began to sense that this was ‘limited omniscient POV’ which I am less familiar with, but I accepted it and read on absorbed by the story.

Through the author’s extensive expertise, the novel resonates with accuracy, from descriptions of the wilderness to the various riding elements. Ballou works even vaulting into Gemcie’s recovery, as well as trekking and jumping, and in the ‘author’s note,’ we discover why this feels so right.

Ballou also neatly weaves the various characters and themes into the satisfying ending. Most of the characters feed into the climax as does the power of love and nature. The natural world is described with words that unleash all the senses, and this reader kept nodding at the importance of respecting nature as Brady does – a respect that Gemcie learns, marking her growth.

A satisfying and enjoyable read that I recommend. I await the sequel hinted at in the author’s final comments.

Story – five stars

Setting/World-building – five stars

Structure – five stars

Readability – five stars

Editing – five stars

Style – four ½ stars

 

Traitor’s Knot – a review

As anyone knows that has read my guest post ‘From Ostler to Eventer’ on Cryssa Bazos’s website, I found a strong connection to this book through horses. But there was so much more, so, read on for my review.

Traitor's Knot

Traitor’s Knot

by Cryssa Bazos (Goodreads Author)

England 1650: Civil War has given way to an uneasy peace in the year since Parliament executed King Charles I.

Royalist officer James Hart refuses to accept the tyranny of the new government, and to raise funds for the restoration of the king’s son, he takes to the road as a highwayman.

Elizabeth Seton has long been shunned for being a traitor’s daughter. In the midst of the new order, she risks her life by sheltering fugitives from Parliament in a garrison town. But her attempts to rebuild her life are threatened, first by her own sense of injustice, then by falling in love with the dashing Hart.

The lovers’ loyalty is tested through war, defeat and separation. James must fight his way back to the woman he loves, while Elizabeth will do anything to save him, even if it means sacrificing herself.

Review 5*

When I first read the reviews, I added Traitor’s Knot to my Must-Read list. However, I was lucky enough to win a copy in a Giveaway – so many thanks, Cryssa Bazos.

Growing up in England, it was hard not to take sides over the English Civil War so this excellent novel stirred all the right passions and unleashed memories. As a child, I was a Royalist but then switched my loyalties to Parliament as I read more. Then I saw yet another side and wavered again. Therefore, I can feel how many of the characters in Traitor’s Knot struggled with their consciences, although through the author’s words the emotional and physical strife comes vividly alive.

From the first page, I was swept into the past, drawn in by the characters and the action. The setting of the Civil War era felt real and the characters’ behaviour seemed appropriate for the time. I am not a historical expert but nothing jarred and, in fact, there were moments where I nodded my head thinking, ‘That sounds right’. I am convinced that Cryssa Bazos did a great deal of intense research. As a retired equestrian journalist, everything horse-related was accurate and one horse was a character in himself.

The plot was cleverly crafted, with the characters being carefully drawn together as events weaved fate. This was never going to be a smooth ride for James Hart and Elizabeth Seton, and the author made sure of that at every stage. No surprise that I wrote, ‘Beware those Roundheads and their twisted ways’, especially after the opening. One stirred my old animosities and I was ready to make him suffer – that takes great writing.

But knots have ways too. The novel’s title is clever, and knots tie things up in so many ways -I even wanted a ‘knot garden’ and the author delivered. Throughout, there was clever plot development and world building – constructing fiction that felt historical. As a mystery writer, I enjoyed the twists and turns as the plot wove around and away from the obvious. Although I knew my English Civil War, so expected one inevitable outcome – no spoilers, there were unexpected turns of events and I could easily ignore what I knew from school. This was on another more realistic level than dry history text books.

The crafting of the climax was exceptional, building on the strands of the plot, weaving them together in an intricate knot. And the final denouement was so devious and edge of the seat thrilling that I was unable to put the book down even to get some work done.

I look forward to the next novel from Cryssa Bazos.

Story – five stars

Setting/World-building – five stars

Structure – five stars

Readability – five stars

Editing – five stars

 

Followers of Writing Wings will know that over the last month I have been fortunate to connect with Cryssa Bazos through the English Historical Fiction Authors Blog, and subsequently promoting my novel. Therefore, we have chatted and I may have an idea about what her next novel might be about. But I leave that for her to say.

Cryssa’s website, where there is more about her novel, highwaymen, and the 17th Century, is: https://cryssabazos.com