#WEP – Write…Edit…Publish AUGUST Challenge

a wep change of heart final
This month, I am taking part in the #WEP August Challenge, part of WEP’s 2018 Challenges which the IWSG (Insecure Writers Support Group) have joined.

The WEP team had a GUEST POST on the IWSG website on August 6. Here is the link http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/2018/08/writing-together-with-wep-and-iswg.html

So, it’s now the correct day for the AUGUST challenge, CHANGE OF HEART. I confess that I posted nine days early – https://rolandclarke.com/2018/08/06/wep-change-of-heart/ – but I have since made a few minor edits so I’m re-posting.

I was also reminded to add some background to the piece. I’m attempting to avoid deadly spoilers here as, in a way, this piece must stand-alone – for instance, the identity of ‘I’ is gradually revealed in the piece.

However, this is an incident in the backstory of a central character in my WIP – SPOILER ahead. This is when my MC in the Snowdon Shadows series of police procedurals was a teenager. I am currently using this as a flashback within a framing story (‘Fevered’) set a year before the WIP entitled ‘Fates Maelstrom’.

Change of Heart

Copyright © Roland Clarke

Shadows in the moonlight flicker like my mind churning with every bleating sheep. What does Taid want? Does he know our secret?

My morning swim in our lake was invigorating, but after breakfast, he triggered the thoughts.

“We need to talk, Meinwen – this evening when your chores are done.”

I daren’t ask Mam what he wants – even if he’s her tad. Patience would be her answer. My siblings don’t act suspicious, but Taid has rules.

Where have I strayed?

My love is forbidden in his chapel eyes. But we kept it secret. Six weeks of passion on the beach had to end. But not with punishment.

He doesn’t know. We were careful – once the school buried the incident. Tad never dug – believed we were bullied for being different – two Goths.

It’s my parents – Tad and Mam. Their time apart, after the arguments about his work, has been hard. I chose to be with him. No, by the sea in Porthmadog – to be near Esyllt. My brothers came with mam and our sister, up here to the farm.

Is there a distance in their eyes? Am I the betrayer who stood with Tad? Am I being sent away?

I love them all. I can’t choose. But my family comes before Esyllt – it must. Or can our affair become more? Or are we doomed?

What does Taid want? A grandchild that lives by the rules. I don’t.

Are my tad and mam following his advice? Have they changed their minds? Are they getting back together – as we all want?


Cregennen Lakes © Ian King – http://snowdonia.info/

The porch door opens and Nain Gwyneth and Taid Hywel walk out, smiling as they hand me a cup of hot chocolate.

“Another beautiful evening,” says Nain as she sits on the couch and gestures for Taid to join her. “It’s good to have you home, cariad. How was your stay with your tad?”

“Awesome – well good.” I mustn’t be too happy as I want to be at their farm now. Well, I want everyone together. “I enjoy being here at Tyn-y-llyn – in the mountains…swimming in the lake—”

Taid takes my hands in his gnarled ones. “Your mam, our Glenys wants this to be your home. You want that?”

Leave my tad. Leave the sea…my friends – Esyllt. For a new life?

“If you want me here. But school? I was changing, though—”

Taid nods at Nain and smiles. “Your mam says that you’re going to sixth-form college – in Pwllheli. Why? We’d hoped you’d do agriculture at Glynllifon – then help your Ewythr Ivor here on the farm.”

I stare across the yard at the farmhouse where my mam’s brother is sleeping with his family. Do I want that life? I love it up here – but something is missing.

Esyllt? No, she is not my future – even if I feel the passion and the excitement…and the guilt.

“I need to keep my options open. I’m sixteen and I want to do AS and A levels in different subjects. I’m not ready to commit.”

They watch me…study me. What do they see? The guilt or vague potential?

“You’ve no idea what you want to do? You can’t be like your tad – look what he’s put our Glenys through?”

The cop-option. The one that tackling the bullies triggered – Esyllt’s suggestion. My tad’s secret desire. Or did he say it was too dangerous? I must evade this.

“I like swimming—” I stare into their eyes then glance towards the land. “And running across the fields. Okay, I can do that as a farmer. But I’d like to learn about the sport and leisure industries, whilst learning more skills – like more Welsh. It’s our language.”

They smile, and Nain reaches over and pats my knee. She takes my hands.

“If you go to Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor how will you get there – you can’t live there?”

I let the conversation move on – hoping that we are past the tough grilling.

“I’ve passed my moped test and it will only take an hour – better than cycling and quicker. That means I can stay here – please.”

They embrace me, and I think they are leaving as Nain goes inside. But Taid sits back down.

“There’s something else. We’ve heard disturbing rumours from your school…” He looks up, and I shiver. “About an incident, you were involved in. What is the truth?”

As I dread. The whispers have spread into Snowdonia. It’s over. First Tad – but he didn’t tan my ass, just lectured me about vigilantes. Seems my school didn’t like the Goth Patrol standing up against bullies.

“It was a buddy system to protect kids needing friends.”

I listen to the hunting owls and Taid’s breathing. Did the family hear more? Or just about the assault in the swimming pool? I could have been drowned, but my friends rescued me – with Esyllt.

“In the eyes of the Lord,” he says, staring up into the night sky. “We can’t be the judges. But our friends talk – about our reputation in the community, and yours. Is there someone else?”

Here it is – the sin is exposed. Unless I lie.

“Not that I know – just friends.”

Lies are hard, but so is facing the truth. It won’t just be Taid and Nain. What will the family do next?

“Who is Esyllt Jernigan?”

I close my eyes and pray for guidance.

“One of my friends – another Goth like me.”

He frowns, and I realise my mistake – my other rebellion.

“Goth is darkness, isn’t it? A sin, in some eyes. You…like this other girl?”

Do I confess my sin – that I’ve slept with another woman? Or do I deny our love and perjure myself in the eyes of God? Three denials like Saint Peter is a sin.

But I want a future. Esyllt was the future but so are my family. Are the chapel rules just? Are Taid and Nain correct?

Must I change what my heart feels?

“There’s this guy – Bran. He likes me.”



Comments are welcome as usual, but for the WEP Challenge, the following applies:

Word Count 991: MPA

(FCA welcome – if you want to send one, just let me know in the comments.)

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Lord of the Flies – a review


Today’s review post is of a book read for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (Book Club). I read William Golding’s 1954 novel Lord of the Flies in February, and this is my belated addition to the group’s discussion. This novel was chosen by club members for how the author used symbolism throughout the story.


Lord of the Flies


William Golding

At the dawn of the next world war, a plane crashes on an uncharted island, stranding a group of schoolboys. At first, with no adult supervision, their freedom is something to celebrate; this far from civilization the boys can do anything they want. Anything. They attempt to forge their own society, failing, however, in the face of terror, sin and evil. And as order collapses, as strange howls echo in the night, as terror begins its reign, the hope of adventure seems as far from reality as the hope of being rescued. Labelled a parable, an allegory, a myth, a morality tale, a parody, a political treatise, even a vision of the apocalypse, Lord of the Flies is perhaps our most memorable tale about “the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart.”

Review 4.5 stars

It’s hard to review a classic that has been around in many ways all my life from novel to screen. My first reaction was that it’s a gritty and a difficult read that may be literary in style, but the messages are there. The beast lives so why should kids be immune to its power? Yes, it could be written in other ways, – and it has been. But I understand the author’s intent (as does Stephen King).

In Lord of the Flies, symbolism is everywhere, from the moment a group of schoolboys are stranded on an uncharted island along an inevitable path to the heart-wrenching climax. As we meet the boys, each one is unique and typical of certain English schoolboys – like myself. Yet each one is an archetype that plays a specific role – none more so than Ralph, Piggy, Jack and Simon. Their distinct appearances add to their character and their roles as symbols.

The early scenes realistically show the boys forming groups, their personalities coming out in how they make friends – and in how they can quickly hurt the vulnerable people like Piggy. Tragic to see that bullying still exists today, although it is more often exposed – perhaps. (I was bullied but never like Piggy is.) However, at an early stage, it seemed that Piggy should be in charge, as the most grounded – the rational symbol of common sense…even if Ralph took that role in survivor’s eyes.

There were vivid images to establish the differences – from the choirboys like black-feathered creatures to the innocent, distracted young’uns. Sometimes, the imagery and description might feel heavily applied, but that can work if the reader lets the complexity carry their imagination to another level.

Golding paints images that show the multi-facets of symbols – like fire being the tool that nurtures society but also destroys. There is a cruel irony in the role that the signal fire plays and how the novel deals with the possibility of rescue.

Simon was crafted as both the hermit and the seer, just as the reader gets the sense that the beast is always real.

It’s hard writing this without spoilers just as it was hard to ignore the memories of Peter Brook’s film as I read, knowing what came next – and I know that the actors’ experiences mirrored the novel. Yet that inevitability as the story unfolds added to the fear that the writing engendered. There’s always that sense of the Lord of the Flies, aka the beast being unrelenting and still alive today. This might have been written in 1954 and a product of an era, and yet we live with the same underlying terrors.

Maybe our self-awareness, as portrayed most notably in Jack, has kept us from stumbling over a precipice and fuels progression as well as dangerous fascination. There is some dialogue at the end that hinted at adults not having the answer. Perhaps there is something in innocence after all.

So, a hard book to enjoy in the entertainment sense, but Golding as a master craftsman does incite a multitude of thoughts. That alone is worth four or more stars.

Story – four stars

Setting/World-building – four stars

Authenticity – five stars

Characters – five stars

Structure – five stars

Readability – four stars

Editing – four stars


Whale Song – a review

Time for another review and although some might class this novel as YA, it was much more.


Whale Song

by Cheryl Kaye Tardif 

A haunting story of love, tragedy, sacrifice and transformation that will change the way you view life…and death.

Thirteen years ago, Sarah Richardson’s life was shattered after the tragic assisted suicide of her mother. The shocking tragedy left a grief-stricken teen-aged Sarah with partial amnesia. Some things are easier to forget.

But now a familiar voice from her past sends Sarah, a talented mid-twenties ad exec, back to her past. A past that she had thought was long buried. Some things are meant to be buried.

Torn by nightmares and visions of a yellow-eyed wolf, yet aided by the creatures of the Earth and by the killer whales that call to her in the night, Sarah must face her fears and uncover the truth―even if it destroys her. Some things are meant to be remembered―at all cost.

This haunting tale of change and choice sensitively explores issues of the right to die, integrating the optimistic spiritualism of native myth and the hard realities of modern-day life.

This beautiful story, told in flashback, straddles the genres of mystery and family drama, and is set in the wilds of Canada — Vancouver Island, Victoria, Bamfield and Vancouver.

REVIEW *****

Although “Whale Song” is told in flashback, it never feels like that. Early on in my reading, I wrote that this was “a beautifully written coming-of-age novel and more”. The voice of Sarah Richardson grows with all the experiences that she faces and she reacts to events as anyone her age would, from bullying at school – a well-crafted case of reverse racism – to her first kiss, then the tragedy that rocks her life, the assisted suicide of her mother, and how that impacts on the years after her mother’s passing

Although my time spent on Vancouver Island was merely days, the author portrays a vivid picture of the place that is central to the novel. The descriptions are as evocative as her mother’s paintings, and the depiction of the Nootka indigenous people – or is that First People – was sensitive and colourful. I loved the characters of Goldie and her grandmother, as well as the role of the wolf, so integral to the plot, as integral as the captivating killer whales. The meaning of the book title makes total sense at the end.

This was a novel that I found hard to put down – but life intervenes, unfortunately. The theme of forgiveness resonates throughout the novel weaving into the different plots, from the bullying to the suicide. I might have been a victim of bullying but I empathised and understood this bully totally. Throughout the last few pages especially, I was weeping with joy and sadness. I was sad to reach the end, but I loved this so much I will read it again and recommend it totally.

The best book that I have read for ages.