#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 – My Buried Secrets

After a busy month, it’s time for my IWSG monthly blog post. I’ll admit I’m not the usual Insecure though, distracted as I am with all the promotion surrounding the launch of Voyagers: The Third Ghost on May 5th. If you’ve missed that visit my post back on that day:

https://rolandclarke.com/2020/05/05/celebrate-voyagers-release-day/

A huge thank you to 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 friendly advice for all us vacillating writers. Many thanks, Captain Alex, for keeping me inspired to keep scribbling. Even at this difficult time.

Before I forget, I’m staying motivated and attempting to write another short story – an entry for 2020 IWSG Anthology Contest. It’s a challenging theme again – Dark Matter – so my old brain is attempting to re-awaken my SF leanings. More about the contest at:

https://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/the-2019-annual-iwsg-anthology-contest.html

Anyway, on to the monthly question which stumped me at first. Then the blocks fell away – or rather the chocks were pulled away.

June 3 question – Writers have secrets! What are one or two of yours, something readers would never know from your work?

Too many to mention. Or am I too overt? If my fiction is taken in isolation then two at least are secrets – and I’m not an alcoholic, even if I was a journalist.

But there’s my Gaming addiction. That’s a secret, invisible in my fiction, yes. As is my disability no thanks to a non-gaming MonSter. However, a sharp reader only has to visit this website and those secrets are trumpeted facts. I never hide those aspects of my life on here – nor my curious approach to writings.

My writing techniques are weird and somewhat capricious, but not secret.

However, a reader would need to dig much deeper for secrets that might contradict my ‘official’ image.

So, who suspects this retired equestrian journalist, whose debut was set against the horse world, is useless on a horse? Unlike my characters who are talented horse people in Spiral of Hooves – well, the main ones. Okay, I’ve ridden and like horses, but as a kid I kept falling off and as I grew up my ability on a horse hardly progressed. I feel safer on the ground.

Is that why I hate flying? Again, I’ve improved with age – although I took a few long-haul flights across the Atlantic when I was at college in Canada. But even though I know what all the scary noises are – like air brakes – I’m still irrational. Is that believable from someone who wrote a short story in the IWSG Anthology featuring one of the brave Soviet airwomen of World War II? Well, those women are one of my research obsessions – like other Women Heroes of that period.

However, there is a clue in Feathered Fire – the MC is afraid of flying.

Stay sensible, safe, and inspired, please

*

The awesome co-hosts  for the June 3 posting of the IWSG are Pat Garcia,J.Q. Rose,andNatalie Aguirre!

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 to say.

#IWSG – Trait Train

Created  and hosted by the Ninja Captain himself, Alex J. Cavanaugh, theInsecure Writer’s Support Groupmonthly blog post is here again – and so am I, insecure or maybe just ashamed.

Ashamed as my writing in June has been minimal: a few book reviews and my piece for the #JUNE #WEP/IWSG CHALLENGE – since the last IWSG monthly post. My excuse is that I’m still wading through a backlog of emails that fills up like sand.  Or is it my forays into Greece that distract?

Anyway, on to the question.

July 3 question: What personal traits have you written into your character(s)?

At first glance: none directly. My characters are somewhat different from me in terms of profession and in some cases gender. Those factors make their central distinguishing traits distinct from mine, although my protagonists tend to be tenacious – a trait in me that is stubborn if something needs to be done. Dogged.

Rose Gold Pendant –http://celticandwelshjewellery.co.uk/product/rose-gold-pendant-26/

I’m not my current MC, Sparkle Anwyl – even if Wales is where my heart is – but I admire the traits that make her a good detective. Her mind games like her mnemonics are a method I use to overcome the memory problems associated with multiple sclerosis. Mnemonics preceded Sparkle, but is it a trait?

No more than sneaking in horses where I can. That’s just a result of my last career move – equestrian journalist. Yes, I had to be dogged and focused for that. And Sparkle must stop her mind from pursuing rabbit holes. Focus.

I have snuck in a journalist or two. But careers are not traits, even if I use mine. I made Carly Tanner, the heroine of my equestrian mystery ‘Spiral of Hooves’ a staunch organic farming advocate. Organic food is a personal passion and drove an earlier career.

But maybe there is a trait there – a fervent commitment to a cause, whether green issues, horses, or justice. Fervour.

Even Norman, the protagonist of ‘Wyrm Bait’ – an unpublished gaming mystery – had a strange type of ‘dogged and focused fervour’ in the way he pursues the game objectives, the mystery girl from his game, and the antagonists. I suspect I wrote more of me into Norm than I would admit.

Now where did I bury that old wyrm-chewed manuscript?   

*

The awesome co-hosts for the July 3 posting of the IWSG are Erika Beebe, Natalie Aguirre, Jennifer Lane, MJ Fifield, Lisa Buie-Collard, and Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor!

(I so admire these guys as I know they have commitments too. Ticker-tape applause, please.)

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. 


#IWSG – What Life Crisis?

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

My headline is not exactly the question prompt for this month’s  Insecure Writer’s Support Group monthly blog post, but it’s what I have to keep saying to avoid a meltdown.

October 3 question – How do major life events affect your writing? Has writing ever helped you through something?

The real questions – well, two questions.

I can’t pretend that one critical life event didn’t impact my writing. When I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in January 2000, my career as an equestrian journalist began to wind in; not immediately, but as I lost the ability to do the job efficiently, retirement loomed. By 2005, I had quit writing reports and by 2010, my involvement with horse shows had ended.

However, writing fiction filled some of the gaps in my life, and my debut novel, Spiral of Hooves was mainly written after I retired. My ongoing health problems do make writing every day hard, but sometimes the writing can distract from having a chronic illness– well two as I also have blood cancer, chronic lymphoblastic leukaemia (CLL).

But MS doesn’t distract from noisy step-great-grand-kids as the disease makes me sensitive to noise (as well as other things like temperature). Maybe I can use the experience for a children’s story.

As I began writing with some seriousness in my teens, there are possibly other life events of relevance. One day, I might remember.

Our current crisis is financial and could lead to a house move/down-sizing. Again, writing is a distraction, although I envisage obstacles like having no computer for some days – but not for so long as the move from Wales to the US.

NaNoWriMo might be a fail though. At least, I can scribble things down, even if MS makes my handwriting illegible – plus, I have plenty of notepads.

My muse will help me through this crisis.

Awww - Roland and Juanita.

Do you juggle major life events and writing? Or do they feed each other?

**

The awesome co-hosts for the October 3 posting of the IWSG are Dolorah @ Book Lover,Christopher D. Votey, Tanya Miranda, and Chemist Ken!

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 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

 

 

#TheIWSG – What Publishing Path?

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

I’m using a lull in the chaos to write this month’s  Insecure Writer’s Support Group monthly blog post as the undisciplined step-great-grandkids are out raising hell in Walmart. My biggest concern is now my wife who fell badly yesterday (Sunday) because of one selfish kid and smashed her weak knee so she has to use one of my wheelchairs to get around. We will be glad when this extended month’s stay is over.

Anyway, on with this month’s question.

September 5 question – What publishing path are you considering/did you take, and why?

The future is a mystery as I’m unsure what path I will choose for my Snowdon Shadows mystery series. Is that why I’m evading the finish line by writing shorts about my heroine? Those tales may appear as a self-published collection or as freebies here. The first novel of the series – three drafted so far – I will offer to a few small presses when it is finished.

I’ve been down the small press path with my debut novel Spiral of Hooves, which was published as an e-book on Monday, December 9th, 2013, by Spectacle Publishing Media Group. When SPMG changed hands and I got the right back, I released a paperback revised edition on August 7th, 2017 – self-published via CreateSpace. Neither release garnered much attention, so I have little to base any future publications on, except—

  • The small press put me in touch with fellow authors and they were supportive; self-publishing was a lonelier path.
  • Self-publishing allowed me to choose more about the release like format and cover. And that meant assembling my own team.
  • Publicity with the small press was a mix of them and me – their suggestions and my workload.
  • Self-publishing was costlier overall – in theory, the profit margins were greater, but I never sold the copies needed to cover my costs.

Perhaps, I am writing for my pleasure alone, so publishing is not important?

Or I have a blockbuster rather than a money-pit.

What’s in your wallet/on your publishing schedule?

Roland_PBookV1

Cover design by Jonathan Temples. Cover photo by Nick Perry

**

The awesome co-hosts for the September 5 posting of the IWSG are Toi Thomas, T. Powell Coltrin, M.J. Fifield, and Tara Tyler!

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 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

 

Oats, Hay and Rest

 

 

2x6_bookmark

Bookmark design by Jonathan Temples. Photo by Nick Perry.

 

I’m back home at Writing Wings for this final hitching post on ‘The Spiral of Hooves Blog Tour’. After a journey that has taken me to France, the USA, England, and Canada, the mare that I borrowed from Carly Tanner is ready for her oats and hay, while I bring this celebration of my novel’s August launch to a fitting close.

First, I must thank my fellow writers and bloggers who did so much to help me – Ailsa Abraham, Donna Galanti, Jane Bwye, Kristina Stanley and Cryssa Bazos – you are all amazing, as are those people that have given their support in other ways from sharing their knowledge at events to sharing their reactions to my novel.

There are still chances to win one of the signed copies of Spiral of Hooves that I am offering prospective readers. Giveaways are running at the following blog hitching posts where more is revealed about the book and about me. There is nothing to stop you entering at each site:

https://ailsaabraham.com/2017/08/05/the-spiral-of-hooves-tour/  (CLOSED – Winner: Sue Barnard)

http://www.elementtrilogy.com/the-spiral-of-hooves-blog-tour-signed-book-giveaway/  (CLOSED – Winner: Laura Thomas)

https://jbwye.com/2017/08/08/the-hitching-post/  (CLOSED – Winner: Jane Bwye)

https://kristinastanley.com/2017/08/08/new-release-spiral-of-hooves-by-roland-clarke/  (CLOSED – Winner: Kate Collier)

https://cryssabazos.com/2017/08/11/from-ostler-to-eventer-guest-post-by-roland-clarke-giveaway/  (CLOSED – Winner: Char Newcomb)

The last ‘hitching post’ is this one, so make a comment below, and you will be entered in the Writing Wings draw for Spiral of Hooves. This giveaway runs until August 31st to give you all more time.

But as they say in those TV promo ads – ‘that’s not all’. There is also a giveaway on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35838755-spiral-of-hooves and that runs until September 7th.

There is a bonus as every signed book has a bookmark in it. Do you think I should give away a signed bookmark to all you ‘hitching post’ responders? Let me know while I’m feeling generous.

Just in case you are new to this blog, here are the refined details about Spiral of Hooves, without the legal small print – there isn’t any that I recall.

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?

What is Spiral of Hooves in brief?

An enthralling mystery full of twists, turns, and suspense, Spiral of Hooves is set against the competitive equestrian world of eventing. Characters are thrown together from different countries by their ambitions, ideals and desires, and by their passion for horses. Relationships are tested, and challenges surmounted as the mystery builds.

A thriller set in the high-stress, competitive environment of the horse riding life. Clarke mixes the excitement of the equestrian community with murder, romance, and friendships that are not what they seem. Clarke’s prose evokes vivid imagery, and the plot keeps you guessing. A thoroughly enjoyable read.” Kristina Stanley, Best-selling Author of the Stone Mountain Mystery Series

Spiral of Hooves is available from Amazon on Kindle and for the first time in paperback https://bookgoodies.com/a/B073W3CLDV

Although nobody in the novel resembles anyone in my working career, I have interviewed five of the characters here at Writing Wings if you want to meet them at https://rolandclarke.com/spiral-of-hooves/. I suspect that my devious mind wanted to challenge you when I chatted with them

Don’t forget to please make a comment below if you would like to be entered in the Giveaway for a signed copy of the Second Edition of Spiral of Hooves.

Let me know what you think about signed bookmarks.  

Are my characters as devious as me?

2x6_bookmark

Bookmark design by Jonathan Temples. Photo by Nick Perry.