#IWSG – Writing Craft

I was about to pass on this month’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group post due to fallout from various health issues – the MonSter, known medically as multiple sclerosis being ongoing. There’s also a family medical crisis, which I pray is resolved painlessly.

However, the monthly question made me answer again, so please bear with my confused thoughts.

Okay, here goes.

Well, 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 March’s post might have been ‘farewell’.

Second, my thanks to all those whose encouraging comments ensure I scribble onwards. Apologies for failing to reply to every comment recently.

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.

August 4 question – What is your favorite writing craft book? Think of a book that every time you read it you learn something or you are inspired to write or try the new technique. And why?

Although part of me has quit writing, I can’t. But without my fingers co-operating here are my top two and links to old reviews I wrote – if WordPress allows me to.

Method Acting For Writers: Learn Deep Point Of View Using Emotional Layers by Lisa Hall-Wilson (Goodreads Author) https://rolandclarke.com/2018/10/25/method-acting-for-writers-a-review/


Writing Diverse Characters for Fiction, TV or Film by Lucy V. Hay https://rolandclarke.com/2019/07/19/writing-diverse-characters-for-fiction-tv-or-film-a-review/

Apologies, this won’t edit or post so that’s all until my next post – the WEP/IWSG Challenge in a couple of weeks.


The awesome co-hosts for the August 4 posting of the IWSG are PK Hrezo, Cathrina Constantine, PJ Colando, Kim Lajevardi, and Sandra Cox!

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:


Online Writing Resources ~ Part 2

On the IWSG Anthology blog his week, the second group of authors featured in the 2020 Insecure Writer’s Support Group anthology Voyagers:  The Third Ghost are sharing some favourite online writing resources beyond the IWSG.  From the Rosetta Stone to online archives discover what great resources our Voyager authors have found!   

And thanks once again to fellow Anthology author and blog-co-ordinator, Louise MacBeath Barbour for keeping us inspired.


A great line-up


On Monday, August 7th I will be surfing the internet to launch ‘Spiral of Hooves’ – the second and improved edition, now available for the first time in paperback.

I will drop by Goodreads throughout the day but be partying over on Facebook where I have gathered a great line-up of talented authors to discuss everything from eventing to highwaymen, from Africa to England, and from inspiration and research to writing tools and marketing.

There will be drinks, cake, biscuits (or cookies) and everyone is welcome from readers, riders, writers, to horses and pets. Please feel free to invite your friends. And have fun. There will be prizes including a signed copy of ‘Spiral of Hooves’.

The novel is available as a paperback and on Kindle at Amazon.


The Launch Party starts at 0900 MDT (0800 PDT – 1100 EDT – 1600 BST – 1700 CEST) on Facebook and the schedule opens with my welcome to the ‘Spiral of Hooves’ launch and then I will chat about my writing life and horses.


1000 MDT (1700 BST) – Jane Bwye, has a lifetime of amazing adventures, in Kenya and other countries, and as a dressage judge, horsewoman, and author of ‘Breath of Africa’, ‘Grass Shoots’, and ‘I Lift Up My Eyes’. Visit her at https://jbwye.com/ and learn much more. Jane knows the world behind ‘Spiral of Hooves’, including many of the horse events described, and at the launch party, she will have some fascinating tales to share.


1100 MDT – Roland Clarke is back to discuss settings and reality, and to introduce his next guest and friend.

Shaman's Drum

1130 MDT (1930 CEST) – Ailsa Abraham is a lady of many talents and careers, including shaman and author of many books including ‘Shaman’s Drum’, ‘Alchemy, and ‘Attention to Death.’ Visit her at https://ailsaabraham.com/ and delve deeper into her writing and her adventurous life in France and at the Bingerbread Cottage. At the launch party, Ailsa will lead you into her world of mystery and beyond, lifting the veil to other worlds.


1200 MDT – Roland Clarke will return to the party and to the mysterious appearances driving our imaginations.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00067]

1400 MDT (1600 EDT) – Donna Beckley Galanti is an author and writing coach. She is the author of the paranormal suspense Element Trilogy and the children’s fantasy adventure Joshua and The Lightning Road series. Visit her at www.elementtrilogy.com and www.donnagalanti.com and then check out her 4 Proven Steps to Connect with Readers Right Now (Before Your Book Even Comes Out!) www.createyourawesomecommunity.com. At the launch party, Donna will chat about her wealth of experiences from writing to inspiring other writers and readers.


1500 MDT – Roland Clarke will be back – if he has left – and he will discuss how he sculpts his ideas into readable draft novels, what is in his scribbling pipeline and the crafting tools he uses.


1600 MDT (1500 PDT) – Kristina Stanley is the best-selling author of the Stone Mountain Mystery series based on her experience at Panorama Mountain Village, B.C. as the director of human resources, security and guest services. The series comprises Descent, Blaze and Avalanche. Her latest novel, Look the Other Way, is a suspense thriller based on her experience sailing in the Caribbean.  Visit her at https://kristinastanley.com/ and at https://fictionary.co/ an indispensable writer’s tool. At the launch party, Kristina will discuss research and real life inspiration.


1700 MDT – Roland Clarke will move from this world to an alternate timeline, before introducing his last guest, whose historical novel is his current engrossing read. Yes, Roland reads historical fiction and enjoys escaping to other ages.

Traitor's Knot1800 MDT (2000 EDT) – Cryssa Bazos is published by Endeavour Press, and her debut novel ‘Traitor’s Knot’, is a sweeping tale of love and conflicted loyalties set against the turmoil of the English Civil War. A member of the Romantic Novelist Association, the Historical Novel Society, and the Battle of Worcester Society, her articles and short stories have appeared in Canada and the UK. She is a co-editor and contributor of the English Historical Fiction Authors site and blogs at https://cryssabazos.com/.  At the launch party, she will talk about combining two of her fascinations: the 17th century and highwaymen.


Highwaymen must mean horses. So that sets Roland Clarke up for the final fences at 1900 MDT until 2100 MDT – a chance for you to discuss any burning topics and attempt to win a final prize.

Don’t miss the ‘Spiral of Hooves Online Re-launch’ Party on Monday, August 7th.


Followers to Flyers: discovering what works


This is my contribution to the first ever Online Marketing Symposium!

One month into my debut novel release and the word success is not on my lips, yet. But I remain optimistic because there are still promotions in the pipeline. ‘Spiral of Hooves’ was released on December 9th with an online party on Facebook, which was well attended. However, there was a slight delay, of a few hours, with the book appearing on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Since then it has been promoted to my followers and friends in a low key way on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and here. But I have not spammed cyber-space. Apologies if I have been in your faces for the last few weeks. I still need to learn the secret of keeping my followers happy. Treats?

The most useful marketing tools, so far, have been the two five star reviews that have appeared on Amazon. One has even been re-used, by the reviewer, to garner additional coverage on Facebook and an online equestrian site. There are some other reviews in the wings as the novel went out to some of my journalist friends, contacts from when I covered equestrian sports. As the novel is a thriller set against the sport of eventing, the forthcoming coverage in the sports main UK magazine, Eventing, could be key to the spring campaign. Use your contacts but don’t lose their friendship.

Cover credit: Danielle Sands

Cover credit: Danielle Sands

I have also sent the novel to some rider friends, including an Olympic rider, in order to get some useful quotes, and to spread the good news about the book being out. As one journalist friend said, ‘getting the word out in the lorry park will boost sales”. With that end I intend to produce some A5 flyers quoting the reviews and the name riders, and linking to my website and where to purchase a copy. Unable to hand these out at shows myself, being wheelchair-bound, I have some good friends that will get them in the right places. Despite being stumped from pressing the flesh in person, flyers might help spread the word at the grassroots. I have no previous experience of using flyers to promote books, so I will be interested to see the results for ‘Spiral of Hooves’. Later today I will check out the other blogs and see how others have fared with similar marketing techniques.

However, when I was in the film industry we used flyers quite often, although these were usually A4 glossy hand-outs that we used at film and TV conventions, including Cannes. We attracted interest, but not as much as we needed to fund a movie. Some were used for selling short films but it is hard to say how successful the leaflets were. All the sales were via a Distributor so our production company was last in line, having paid everybody else. Flyers do work for some producers and, from my observations, it was the hook plus pitch, the cover and elements like cast that were key selling points. But the flyers mustn’t have too much information. And that has to apply with book flyers as well. What are your thoughts on flyers? No better than random advertising? Destined for the recycle bin? Another useful tool in spreading the word?

For links to other participating Blogs and information on the first ever Online Marketing Symposium! please visit here.

 what-works-jan-20 copy

Writing Tips


For Post 7 in the Indie Block Party the topic is: Share your most helpful writing tips and advice. What do you know now that you wished you had known when you started writing?

I always say that I wish that I had known that completing my first novel overnight wasn’t guaranteed or required. It’s been 13+ years and publication is just a few months away.

So for all you wannabe writers out there, with that one book crying out to be written, I need to say that it can take a lot of sweat and patience, plus discarded ideas and words, especially if all criticism is taken on board. But it’s all worth it. There are amazing moments especially when words flow and visions come to life on the page. Just give yourself time and don’t rush the creative process.

Tip 1: Learn the craft well. Writing is a craft that we all spend years perfecting, in fact for a lifetime. As wiser people than I have said, the best writers are always learning and consciously improving. Never stop studying your craft.

Tip 2: Be There. These words are posted beside my computer to remind me to live in my writing. Feel your surroundings as your characters do. Immerse yourself in the same way that you want the reader to be captivated. Leave the objective, critical, internal nit-picker locked away until the editing stage. Starve him somehow so he’ll work harder later.

Tip 3: Why? Posted on my wall under ‘Be There’. As a journalist I was often told to use the five Ws in the first sentence of the newspaper story, even if it was an outdated technique by then.  Who, What, When, Where and Why i.e. who is it about? What happened? When did it take place? Where did it take place? Why did it happen?  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_Ws

For me this has been simplified to Why? – in the sense of Why is this happening? Why is the character doing this? Why am I changing scenes? Why am I using these words. Not all the questions but the best ones start with ‘why’.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tip 4: As they say in acting – Is your character always in character? Is your character always in the moment? Best explained at: http://writersinthestorm.wordpress.com/2013/08/28/small-actions-deeper-character-better-scenes/

Tip 5: Write that first draft as fast and furiously as the inner muse unleashes the words that she wants to inspire you with. Again don’t let the internal editor hold you back.

Tip 6: Take regular breaks, walk around the house… or in my case wheel myself around. When we move to our bespoke home it will be far easier to go outside, without changing wheelchairs and lifting them around corners. So my advice is mix writing with gardening perhaps, anything to move around as well as write.

Tip 7. Rewards: Not exactly the last one but the point at which the experts move into the wings. I could only add that beyond my writing I know that I will be rewarded with something I enjoy. For some of you that might be coffee, a muffin, chocolate or a shower, but for me it is escaping into another world playing some MMORPG.


Have I done enough to go now, please?

Okay, guess not.

Here a few links to interesting articles that I have read in the last few days.




There are various sites I use including:




And as a crime writer:



Finally a site that I have just discovered and started subscribing to:


And for other invaluable hints, why not visit the other Indie Block Party participants:


Time Exchange

English: timeline example

English: timeline example (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Does your favourite book capture a sense of time? Does time play out slowly or race along? How does an experienced writer catch such an intangible element as time in words?

Pacing is a key element to crafting a novel and wiser people have addressed it much better than I can in this beginner’s blog. However, I can address the lessons that I have learnt in my sporadic journey.

When I first started writing my first novel ‘Spiral of Hooves’, I resorted to simply inserting the date at the beginning of each scene or chapter. But although that works if the writer builds more subtle temporal clues onto this, I think for me it became a crutch. Although I had an initial timeline to guide me, I made the mistake of straying too far from it in order to make incidents occur in sequence. So when I was asked recently by my editor to check my timeline, I realised it was hopelessly out of date. Fortunately the juggling needed to bring scenes and chapters into line with the correct timeline was not too complicated, and the novel benefited.

As for the actual time scale of the story, that went from two years in the initial draft to nine months in the final one, which tightened the pace considerably. Faster pacing seems to make sense for a mystery, although I was never aiming for a thriller-type race against time.

Of course pacing is more than just saying: ‘Next morning’ or ‘Two hours later’ and I have tried to vary what happens in scenes and the words I have used. For instance, over the drafts I made better use of the seasonal changes in weather, vegetation and animal life. Keeping dialogue leisurely or snappy depending on the mood has helped I hope, although that will be up to my readers to decide. Have I been too overt by resorting to characters mentioning how many days or hours before a specific event or deadline?  Hopefully not and the readers will be caught up in the story.

Using beta readers, after about the third draft, has helped assess whether the timeline and pacing worked. Adding an editor into the mix has been invaluable – many thanks Yen, you’ve been great to work with. However, I have had to adapt a few things to an American readership, and explain some of the equestrian terminology. As ‘Spiral of Hooves’ enters the final furlong, I feel that the novel has evolved thanks to the input and the lessons learned. What occurs in the time before publication will be another blog tale.

Animated sequence of a horse pacing. Photos ta...

Animated sequence of a horse pacing. Photos taken by Eadweard Muybridge (died 1904), first published in 1887 at Philadelphia (Animal Locomotion). Animation by Waugsberg, 2006-10-8. (The sequence is set to motion using frames of Human and Animal Locomotion, plate 591, “Pronto” pacing) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For other drafted novels, I have tried to keep a closer eye on the timeline as I work on the plot. However, when I get round to editing them I need to take care that I keep the timeline updated. I also need to evolve the date/day references into more subtle and clever ways of showing the passage of time that work with the pace of the plot.

I’ve just outlined the sequel to ‘Spiral of Hooves’, which has the working title of ‘Tortuous Terrain’. Its timeline was complicated to plot due its background against two different equestrian competitions in the USA. Hopefully, as I write the first draft I can find the right words to capture time as well as the setting and characters. There’s an historical mystery in the wings too, set in both 1812 and the present day – ‘Seeking A Knife’. That presents an interesting challenge, but sometime in the future.

As for the blog title ‘Time Exchange’ that was Inspiration Monday – http://bekindrewrite.com/2013/07/15/inspiration-monday-look-at-me-now/. Not the requirement, but the title seemed to fit this piece: an exchange of experiences from me to you.

Now it’s your turn: what do you find gives inspiring writing a sense of time?