Oats, Hay and Rest

 

 

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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/  (until August 15th)

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/  (until August 18th)

https://kristinastanley.com/2017/08/08/new-release-spiral-of-hooves-by-roland-clarke/  (until August 18th)

https://cryssabazos.com/2017/08/11/from-ostler-to-eventer-guest-post-by-roland-clarke-giveaway/  (until August 21st)

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?

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Bookmark design by Jonathan Temples. Photo by Nick Perry.

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

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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?

 In The Midst Of Life -a review

When I devised my point system, I wasn’t expecting a book to slip to the third star position. But I hope my review justifies this score.

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In The Midst Of Life (D.I. Angel Mystery #1)

by Roger Silverwood

Twenty years ago, a nurse in a hospital for the criminally insane was brutally and savagely murdered by a patient.

It later turned out that the patient had had his medication withheld by another nurse, who had been stealing and selling drugs for her own gain – and her subsequent disappearance triggers the beginning of a gruesome trail of enquiries.

Then the disgraced nurse’s sister arrives in Inspector Michael Angel’s office with news of a murder, and fears for her own safety.

With some mysterious clues – a dead woman wearing one stocking inside out, an American class ring, and two dead cats – and a lot of clever humour, Inspector Angel scrambles to find the killer in south Yorkshire.

Despite obstruction from the Chief Constable, the doggedly determined and charismatic Inspector Angel stubbornly ferrets out the suspects.

By relying on his eternally willing right hand man, and resorting to an unusual strategy, he manages to narrow the long list of suspects down.

But are his suspicions right?

And can he stop the killer before anyone else is cut down In the Midst of Life…?

‘In the Midst of Life’ is the first novel in the DI Michael Angel series.

*

The blurb for “In The Midst of Life” intrigued me, and the opening chapter hooked me. But as I read more this novel proved a disappointment. Maybe it was because I had just read three excellent crime novels.

Or maybe it was Inspector Angel. I found him irritating, although some readers have called him a strong character. I disliked his attitude towards his colleagues, which was more than racist in places. Maybe he is based on real cops, but I hope he’s in the minority.

I felt uneasy about his approach to solving crimes, not least the way that he reacted to some video evidence. He also seemed to be more concerned about petrol station robbers than the murder. Or was that the writer? Was there a subtle clue here that I missed?

The plot had me guessing until the resolution, but too much was revealed at once, and it didn’t read right. This wasn’t an Agatha Christie reveal that has this captivated reader flicking back for clues. I felt cheated when Angel revealed things that were never set up earlier.

I came away wondering if that was his main reason for not worrying about the murder. Or was that because the victim was a woman? But then Angel’s not a misogynist just a stereotype. And what’s with a police force with no women?

However, Roger Silverwood still needs some credit for not only writing one book and getting it published, but also a whole series. That takes something. Shame the plot fell short.

*

So did I learn anything from reading “In The Midst Of Life”? Well, I realised that I must avoid putting off readers with my protagonist’s attitude. Researching the modern police force is essential, so I’m glad to be in touch with two North Wales police officers – one of them female. Finally, the plot resolution must tie into previous events, even if there are red herrings and hidden clues.

 

 

 

 

Bad Moon Rising – a review

I’ve been sticking with the crime fiction for my reading, although my next review is of a darker offering. But I was engrossed once again, not least because the forensics in this was so well researched and described.

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Bad Moon Rising (D.I. Paolo Storey #1)

by Frances di Plino (Goodreads Author)

*** SEMI-FINALIST in the KINDLE BOOK REVIEW 2012 competition ***
*** FINALIST for THE PEOPLE’S BOOK PRIZE 2014***

One more soul is safe.

Brought up believing sex is the devil’s work, a killer only finds release once he has saved his victims’ souls. Abiding by his vision, he marks them as his. A gift to guide his chosen ones on the rightful path to redemption.

Detective Inspector Paolo Storey is out to stop him, but Paolo has problems of his own. Hunting down the killer as the death toll rises, the lines soon blur between Paolo’s personal and professional lives.

For anyone that likes their crime fiction dark and gritty, then I recommend “Bad Moon Rising” by Frances di Plino. The killer is believably twisted by his religious calling, and his identity is cunningly hidden from Detective Inspector Paolo Storey, his colleagues and the reader.

Frances di Plino has crafted a memorable detective, complex and tragic like some of the finest flawed characters. When I finished the novel, I wanted to know more about him and where his life was going. I must read the next book in the series.

The depth of characterisation doesn’t end with the protagonist and antagonist. Even the minor characters are well portrayed, and stand out in their own right. There is also a strong sense of the complex workings of all aspects of the police, including forensics, but told believably.

The personal interactions weave around the investigation, especially with Paolo Storey, whose own attitudes often drive the action. This takes the story to another level, where all the elements are working seamlessly to create a relentless story…a dark tale that seeps into unexpected crannies.

The twist was unusual, but that is the sign of a clever author. Find a new angle and make it work. I’m intrigued what Someday Never Comes (D.I. Paolo Storey, #2)  will add to this excellent series opener.

What earns Stars?

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

 

Writing book reviews makes me insecure when it comes to awarding stars. Hence this post on the official Insecure Writer’s Support Group day.

At one point, in the dim past, it seemed simple: if it was a book that I would re-read, then it earned five stars, like J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. If it was a disappointment, then it earned three (or less). Nothing earned less, as one and two star books didn’t get past the initial blurb-opening-cover test – although I admit to a few mistakes.

Anyway, here’s my latest guide to the Stars based on reviewing as a fellow writer and as a reader.

One Star: The author managed the awesome feat of publishing a book.

Two Stars: Published and with almost no formatting/proof-reading/typo/spelling errors etcetera.

Three Stars: Published, error-free-ish, and with a logical, understandable plotline. Okay read.

Four Stars: As three, plus engaging story, characters, setting, and well-crafted sub-plots. Recommended read.

Five Stars: Not just a recommended read, but a book that demonstrates the craft of writing. Enjoyable and inspirational.

Although this star system avoids judging books against each other, which I hate doing, there is one major problem with this rating method. My review tomorrow demonstrates that failing. What score should I give a book that deserves five stars, is a ‘read-again’ book, and demands that I work through it looking for the clever techniques that the writer used. Do I need to have a Six Star grade?

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I remember doing that when I got to the end of Agatha Christie’s The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. I needed to know how she had got away with Rule 1 of the 10 Rules of Golden Age Detective Fiction, producing a clever twist ending that worked. Of course, that rule is now broken in many instances, as are many others.

Anyway, I’m not sure how I will apply my Stars grading to non-fiction, but what are your measures of a fiction book’s qualities? Do you avoid giving five stars? Do you want to give five stars to most books that you choose to read? Have you ever given a book one star, even if it was mine?

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The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. We post our thoughts on our own blogs. We talk about our doubts and the fears we have conquered. We discuss our struggles and triumphs. We offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling.

Please visit others in the group and connect with my fellow writers.

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter hashtag is #IWSG

And be sure to check out our Facebook group –https://www.facebook.com/groups/IWSG13/

The awesome co-hosts for the June 1st posting of the IWSG are  Murees Dupe, Alexia Chamberlynn, Chemist Ken, and Heather Gardner. 

 

A Day Late and Dollars Short

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This should have been posted yesterday, but I forgot what day it was. In fact, on Sunday I still thought it was Saturday. So, I lost a day somewhere.

If you find that missing day, please let me have it back. I’m missing it terribly. 😉

As for the mislaid dollars, well my brother did give me some money. However, his version of money is limited – by some camel with a needle aversion. I can’t really complain as I got enough to cover Christmas, or whatever holiday we choose to celebrate in wet and windy Wales.

As I warned my not-so-wise sibling, the price of everything is going up, and January will probably bring bigger price-hikes. Meridian, the place we are trying to move to, just got voted the Best Place to Live in America,  by 24/7 Wall St., an online financial news corporation. Already, suitable wheelchair-accessible houses are selling within 48 hours of going on the market. And the price will have a knock-on effect in the Treasure Valley area.

His excuses for not advancing the money to buy, are getting lamer every time we talk. The property to finance this has sold, for a considerable amount – millions – and my share covers my requests, and more. But he can always justify dragging his knuckles.

Maybe, after Christmas, there might be real news – or NOT.

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There are also things missing on the writing front. Not exactly days – although the timeline of the story is a challenge – nor dollars, or pounds; could do with the Royalties though. Instead, having been a 2015 NaNoWriMo winner, the wheels are spinning.

I was working to an outline, but then I killed off a second character. Now, my detectives are all over the place, searching for evidence and scenes. Which means that the outline has to be re-thought before the Chief Constable closes down the investigation, and I’m left with a cold case. Or should that be a cold novel?

So great is my stressed-out confusion, that I’ve even re-installed Scrivener, believing that I missed a trick or two by abandoning it. Well, it did lose another novel – but I had an RTF backup for that.

Rant over. Off to plot another brutal murder – MUAHAHAHAHA.

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http://epicpix.com/brutus-is-at-it-again/