Merle

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Celebrations

It was wonderful having my family with me for three whole weeks while we celebrated Roy’s life.
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And it is impossible not to smile and laugh when the young are around.
I’m getting used to being on my own, and have started to pick up the threads again.

 

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THIS BOOK is dedicated to Roy, who refused to use a kindle. He was a slow reader. He could take months to get through a normal sized book. At the beginning of 2017, he spent five weeks in hospital. I reminded him of my book, which had just come out in paperback form.
It was short, I told him, but it wasn’t an easy read. With some trepidation, I left it on his bedside table.
Ever since his first operation for cancer twenty-five years ago, Roy’s health steadily and inexorably deteriorated; until a particularly obstinate attack of adhesions – relating to that original operation – finally released him from suffering the day after our Golden Wedding Anniversary.
The past years have not been easy on me, either, as his wife and carer. Although the story is not our story, a great deal of emotion and angst went into the telling of it.
How would he react?
When I went to see him the following day, the book-mark had advanced a few chapters.
“I’m enjoying your book,” he said.
Roy was obviously engrossed, and for the first time ever, he seemed proud of my literary endeavours – even to pointing out to the nurses that his wife was an author. The book lay prominently on the table by his hospital bed. And then, several days later, he greeted me with the warmest kiss he had given me for a long time.
“I’ve finished your book,” he said.
He never was a good communicator.
A feeling of relief washed through me.
His fond greetings and farewells lasted until he was well enough to be discharged into the frantic world of a full home-from-hospital care package.

***

Others have reacted warmly to the book:

“…one of those rare gems that addresses real life emotions and hits compromise head on.”
“A brave and unique book, dealing with the subject of love, attraction and religious beliefs in more mature people.”
It affected one Amazon reviewer so much, he nearly couldn’t finish it: “I found this read very difficult at times as it reminded me of the toll illness extracted in my own family. But we have to face these things and deal with them…”
But then, he also said: “Take four men and one loving but unloved woman. Light the blue touch paper and stand – as close as it suits you, depending on whether you prefer a dash of passion or the quiet life.”

***

I’m still not sure I’ve got the blurb exactly right.

A raw story of hope and love, which addresses real life emotions and hits compromise head on.  “Do I do the right thing, or do I live while I still can?” Ann is faced with a dilemma as she grapples with her sense of duty towards her ailing husband, Robert. She finds consolation in nature while walking in the hills of Sussex, but wrestles with her conscience when she enjoys the attentions of a stranger, Duncan.  Peace of mind eludes her, until she returns full circle and discovers an age-old truth.

I LIFT UP MY EYES

is on sale TODAY @ $.99 / .99P

HURRY!

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Summer Sale

I’m delighted to announce:

CC sale

If you haven’t yet read mine, or want to send them to a friend, you can find my Amazon page HERE!

Happy reading.

You can also sign up to my NEWSLETTER.

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I CAN’T WRITE PROPER

This gallery contains 3 photos.

Originally posted on lucinda E Clarke:
I am feeling quite depressed at the moment. Why? Once upon a time, I thought I could write. Not as well as Tolstoy, or Shakespeare, but the average, everyday stuff. This is a good…

Gallery | 1 Comment

The Hitching Post

The Spiral of Hooves Tour

Welcome to this hitching post on The Spiral of Hooves Blog Tour celebrating the August 7th launch of the second edition of Roland Clarke’s equestrian mystery, “Spiral of Hooves”.

I just loved this book – it is so like a Dick Francis novel, but set in the eventing world instead of racing. I strongly advise you to comment on this blog, to have a chance of winning a free signed paperback copy!

Spiral of Hooves by [Clarke, Roland]

“Spiral of Hooves” is an enthralling mystery full of twists, turns, and suspense 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.

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?

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

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Roland Clarke is a retired equestrian journalist, photographer, and event organiser. Sadly, Multiple Sclerosis clipped his wings, and he was unable to meet deadlines or get to equestrian events easily. Recently, his wife Juanita and he moved with their two dogs, Quetzal & Treeky to Boise, Idaho having lived in Harlech, North Wales for over two years.

THE CROSS-EXAMINATION

How did “Spiral of Hooves” originate?

The novel arose from observations made during my years as an equestrian journalist, right back to my brief time at ‘The Field’. In my twenties, I had a rough idea for a story involving a Canadian and an English rider, but while watching a horse show in about 1998, the idea began to evolve. Although the first edition of “Spiral of Hooves” took me thirteen years to complete, I used my experience of the equestrian world to develop and refine the novel. The Second edition allowed me to address some of the questions raised by reviewers of the first release and correct some typos, I hope.

Why a Canadian? Aren’t you British?

I was born in England although my mother was Anglo-Chilean and my father was English. I spent a few years studying near Montreal, in the French part of Canada and that sowed the seeds of the novel before I even started on my equestrian career. A part of me dreamt of living in Canada, but I’ve ended up in the Idaho, USA – where the sequel to “Spiral of Hooves” will be set.

Is the sequel written? Does it involve more eventing?

“Tortuous Terrain” has yet to progress beyond draft one, but it has some of the characters from “Spiral of Hooves” so there is some eventing. However, the mystery to be solved by the main characters this time revolves around the threats to two sisters, one an endurance or trail rider and the other a barrel racer.

How much of your books is realistic?

I set “Spiral of Hooves” in the eventing world, so elements had to be realistic. All the shows are based on real events, so where possible, I tried to give a sense of the settings, using, for instance, some fences that I knew were on the cross-country courses. Some of the actions and reactions are based on interviews with riders, veterinary surgeons, breeders, etc. I had to ensure that my colleagues in the sport would recognise elements, and then accept that the fiction was possible. “Tortuous Terrain” requires more research as the setting is less familiar.

Have you ever met the characters in “Spiral of Hooves”?

Although none of the characters resemble anyone, I have interviewed five of the characters for my website if you want to meet them at https://rolandclarke.com/spiral-of-hooves/.

Is there a message in your novels that you want readers to grasp?

Don’t let outward appearances dictate your actions.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

I attempt to be an MS Warrior and keep writing. However, the toughest challenge is finding time to write when multiple sclerosis is draining my strength. Beyond that, I struggle with the editing, never quite sure how to improve my drafts. I’m better at plotting the original story.

Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?

I blog erratically at http://rolandclarke.com. Please drop by and say hello.

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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”.

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First Visit!

My apologies for the break in my “Charity” blog series, caused by the passing of my long-suffering husband. He was ready to go, he told me on the day of our Golden Wedding anniversary…

Life goes on, and I am beginning to pick up the threads again.

***

It is always good to hear from David Baldwin, and I’m delighted to give you the second in his series about his work in Kenya. Over to you, David!

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In my introductory blog I recounted how myself and daughter Susie started in 2009 our small, grass roots charity supporting an impoverished, marginalised community in NE Kenya – St Peter’s Life-Line, and the amazing circumstances in which we, and they, now find ourselves. My next blogs will fill the gaps between then and now, sharing with you the joys and sorrows of this tumultuous and wonderful journey.

With all the preliminaries of setting up our charity completed, our thoughts – and rising excitement – turned to our first visit in February 2010 to St Peter’s Primary School, Kajuki, and meeting up with Fr Joe – parish priest and founder of the school. For me it was the prospect of returning to the country of my birth and upbringing – of which I had the most loving memories.

The big wide smile of Fr Joe greeted us at Nairobi airport, and we set off for Kajuki, some four hours away. Having left the congestion, scruff and sprawl of Nairobi, we were soon driving through the Kenya of my childhood – the scatterings of smallholdings and huts set in vibrant greenery, contrasting vividly with the rich, red soil. Small herds of livestock by the roadside, being tended by children, makeshift wayside stalls, and the patient plod of many people by the roadside.

The final approach to St Peter’s was along the rutted, dusty roads of the rural Kenya that I remembered so well, and there before us, as we swung into the parish and school compound – was gathered the whole school of about 180 children – excitedly greeting us with songs, hands eagerly outstretched, flashing smiles and crowding round.

After the excitement had died down (it took a while!) we toured the school. It sits in a large, dusty compound  with St Peter’s parish church, presbytery and sisters’ house. It was very basic, built of stone and tin roofs – four classrooms with only gaps for doors and windows, the blackboard painted on a wall; the ‘kitchen’ was an open tin shack, in which the school’s meals were cooked over an open wooden fire in vast saucepans; the two dormitories, very crowded, wooden bunk beds, each sleeping four children; toilets were tin sheds covering the ‘squat’ long-drops – and very smelly; the ‘showers’ a small tin shack in which children washed themselves out of a bucket – which they filled from the river half a mile away. But… as we discovered and experienced, a high performing school academically, with healthy, cheerful, well fed children, being given a quality education.

The days of our visit were packed – getting to know the school, teachers, children – listening in on classes and participating. Getting out and about, visiting and getting to know the community and individual families.

We were very impressed with the way the school was run – the day was well structured, with qualified teachers and strict discipline. But what struck us most was the ambition of these kids. Their appetite for learning was insatiable, their effort to do so, unstoppable.

Our visits to various families was eye-opening, thought provoking, humbling and sometimes, downright heartbreaking! All living in the absolute depths of poverty in their humble, cramped, mud and wattle huts. This was the Kenya that I remembered 50 years ago!

There was Callista, a young mum of four, with severely crippled feet, who although was able to walk, was unable to carry loads, and she had to rely on her kids to carry the daily water from the river some mile away. Then, Jane – a St Peter’s pupil. She was born out of wedlock, and when her mum subsequently married another man, he refused to take on Jane, and she is being brought up by her elderly grandparents. It is not uncommon for grandparents to be struggling to bring up their young grandchildren – either through abandonment, or parents dying from Aids.

On that sad theme we visited Arabilla – 14 years old – both her parents had died, and she was singlehandedly bringing up her three younger siblings, having taken herself out of primary school. When they were old enough to fend for themselves on a daily basis, she took herself back to primary school, aged 19, to complete her education.

Coming to the end of our visit, and just when we thought we had our mission of supporting this one small primary school forming comfortably in our minds, Fr Joe broached the subject of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), the so called circumcision of women – of which I knew very little – but as I learned, has a profoundly damaging effect on the women of this deeply conservative tribal community, about which, and how we reacted, I will discuss in the next blog.

But we left Kajuki deeply satisfied, inspired, humbled, and fired-up to do whatever we possibly could to try and play our small part in bettering this struggling community’s prospects.

***

Thank you David, and I look forward to more instalments!

If anybody wishes to join this blog tour of African charities, please contact me, and I will be delighted to help increase your exposure.

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Celebrating Roy’s Life

roy memorial2

Roy is now at peace. He was ready to go, he told me, at 1.30 am on the day of our Golden Wedding Anniversary, 1st July, 2017.

He’d made it!

Much loved father and grandfather; friend of many.

To read more, you can subscribe to my Newsletter, HERE

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