The very Worst Riding School in the World by Lucinda E Clarke

This was such a surprise from a very supportive lady – a huge thank you 🙂

T. R. Robinson Publications

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Anyone who has read or followed (blog and social media) this author will be well acquainted with her excellent writing style and sense of humour. This introductory memoir is no exception.

The synopsis sets out the background:

Who would be stupid enough to open and run a riding school when they are terrified of horses, can’t ride, without insurance or capital, and with not the faintest idea of how to care for horses. Add to that, two of the four horses are not fit for the knacker’s yard. Yes, that’s exactly what I did – like so many of my adventures I ‘fell’ into this one as well with hilarious results.

Describing the family background and her own lack of knowledge and experience Lucinda Clarke draws out the funny and serious sides of this escapade. Her sense of humour and self-depreciation are constantly in evidence as…

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MEET JEFFREY WALKER

The really fun part about all my guest blogs, is meeting so many authors who have lived in different parts of the world, had a huge variety of careers, survived a wide range of experiences and lived to tell their stories. And that is what we all have in common, we are writers and we’ve all accomplished the blood, sweat and tears part of writing our books and are eager to tell the world about them. 

This is the second soldier I’ve had as a guest, and he’s led a fascinating life, read on. 

JEFF WALKER

My name is Jeffrey Walker and I’m an American Midwesterner, born in what was once the Glass Container Capital of the World. I’m a retired military officer, and served in Bosnia and Afghanistan, planned the Kosovo air campaign and ran a State Department program in Baghdad. I’ve been shelled, rocketed and sniped by various groups, all with bad aim. I’ve lived in ten states and three foreign countries, managing to get degrees from Harvard and Georgetown University along the way. An attorney and professor, I taught legal history at Georgetown, law of war at the College of William & Mary and criminal and international law while an assistant dean at St. John’s University. I’ve contributed on National Public Radio and been a speaker at federal judicial conferences. I live in Virginia with my wife, I dote on her and my children but they are now spread across the United States. I’ve never been beaten at Whack-a-Mole.

It’s not surprising that Jeffrey has written a book that’s set against the background of the cruellest war in history.

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None of Us the Same tracks the experiences during and after the First World War of three main characters. Deirdre Brannigan, who adds new meaning to “headstrong,” is an Irish nurse from working-class Dublin, while affable Jack Oakley and complicated Will Parsons are childhood pals from St. John’s who enlist in the Newfoundland Regiment the day it’s formed in August, 1914. Deirdre joins a military nursing service after her father and brother hit the beach at Gallipoli. All three of their paths cross at Deirdre’s field hospital the first day of the Somme. Each of them suffers terrible and varied trauma from the war. The second half of the book returns to Newfoundland as they come to a reckoning with their self-pity, addictions, and emotional devastation. A big part of the healing process involves overlapping romantic and business relationships, not all of them entirely legal.

Also, follow Jeff on:

Twitter https://twitter.com/JkwalkerAuthor

Facebook at www.facebook.com/jeffreykwalker

Instagram @jkwalker.author

Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16863722.Jeffrey_K_Walker

His book None of Us the Same is available now in most countries on Amazon at https://amzn.to/2qvJSJm. It will be available through other retailers worldwide in June.

Jeffrey also sent me some explanations of the F@ck word (the naughty one) and I couldn’t resist adding a  little about it here. I know exactly where Jeffrey is coming from. When we were working against the clock setting up for concerts, everyone around us used the word all the time and I found myself using it too. It’s kind of catching! And as writers we all know there are a million adjectives out there so I wonder why it is so easy to use this one so often? Any ideas? 

My kids seem to think they invented the word f@ck in all its polygrammtical guises. I beg to differ, but until recently I’d kinda thought MY generation invented every day use of the word f#ck. I was woefully mistaken.

In fact, the first usage of the word f$ck in any kind of sexual sense appears to date to the early 14th century when a man from Chester in England is referred to in a writing as “Roger Fucke-by-the-Navele.” Which says something most hilarious about poor Roger’s sexual prowess, we may safely assume. The first use of the F-word in literature dates to a poem written by a Scotsman (not surprisingly) named William Dunbar: “Yit be his feiris he wald haue fukkit / Ye brek my hairt, my bony ane.” But since less than .0008% of the world’s population could even come close to understanding this, it’s kind of a “no harm, no foul” usage.

The first book of a fiction trilogy I’m writing came out last week, set during and after the First World War. Doing research for these books, I discovered that the F-Bomb, as in the carpet-bombing usage of the word f$ck in each phrase of every conversation, was probably invented by millions of English-speaking soldiers slogging around the trenches during the First World War. (I stand ready to be disproven by all you U.S. Civil War or Napoleonic War authors out there.)

It seems to have become something of a Word of Universal Usage among the Brits, Canadians, Aussies, Kiwis, Newfoundlanders, South Africans, and—belatedly—the Yanks. Its use even spilled over to the non-English speaking troops, including the Germans. By the end of the War, it was in the same league as “O.K.” in terms of worldwide currency.

I’ve spent much of the last 18 months in a deep dive into First World War soldier’s letters, memoirs, interviews, songs, cartoons, trench newspapers, poems, and novels. Much of this was consciously cleaned up by the former Tommies or doughboys or diggers for consumption back home in decent society.

Thank you Jeffrey and the best of luck with your new book.

MEALS AND MARIE BISCUITS

Now why did I ever think it was clever to alliterate all these headings, can you imagine how long it takes me to think them up? That’s right about 10 seconds.

THE TRAVEL STORY

Now I loved travelling around the Far East I really did, but, there comes a time when you just long for a good roast, or maybe an Italian and you feel if you ever look at another noodle you’ll slit your wrists. So, you can imagine our delight when we found this place in Penang, left over no doubt from the days of the British Empire.

We would never have found it but for a kind friend who has a holiday apartment on the island and was worried we were not having a good time.

We spent much of that in the shopping mall, just as good as many I’ve been in, but before we flew out the next day we decided to dine in the hotel.

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At first we thought the restaurant was closed, but as we peered in through the door, a kitchen person appeared and kindly called the staff in, laid the one table for us and we ate in total splendour, in total isolation watched by a fascinated and assorted crowd of hotel employees. I tried to reassure myself it was only because we were using knives and forks as honestly I think DH and I eat the same as everyone else. However, it was time to leave the next morning for Singapore.

HISTORY – THE NEW VERSION

Prince Alfred, Bertie’s younger brother announced his intention to marry the Grand Duchess Marie Alexandrovna, the daughter of the Tzar of Russia. Bertie thought this a great idea as family members of his wife Alix had also married Russian royalty. Of course Queen Vic wasn’t keen but this time she didn’t get her own way

The wedding took place at the Winter Palace in St Petersburg, and to commemorate the occasion a small English bakery made the Marie biscuit with the Duchess’ name printed on the top.

But there was trouble when they got back to London, for the pompous Marie insisted on taking precedence over Alix, since her father the Tsar considered the Danish royal family quite inferior. Really, you’d think being royal was enough without being snobbish about the hierarchy of such posh families.

PROMO TIME

Of course the reason I write a weekly blog is not so you’ll buy my books (uncross fingers from behind back).

However if you like erotica, fairies, dragons and the wild west you won’t find any books written by me.

If you do like action adventure, biographies and memoirs and comedy you just might!

And this is the link to my author page on Amazon as I like to be helpful

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Lucinda-E-Clarke/e/B00FDWB914

My memoirs are wide and available on other channels.

Till next week take care.

MEET J B REYNOLDS

My guest this week proves another theory of mine – all great writers have had a myriad of different jobs – it’s all to do with the watching, observing, learning of people, places and things. He’s had a fascinating life. And, a little bird told me that his wife is helping him with his marketing – ah I wish …  isn’t that wonderful?

BJ Reynolds

Hi, I’m J.B. Reynolds and I live in rural Northland, New Zealand, where I raise children and chickens. (In case you’re wondering, chickens are easier—they also make less mess). I write humorous short fiction in which tragedy meets comedy and character reigns supreme. My first short story was published while I was a university student in the mid-nineties. Since my graduation and a return to serious writing in 2016, I’ve worked as a teacher, graphic designer, landscaper, ski and snowboard technician, film critic, librarian, apple picker, and baker of muffins and teacakes.

Nowadays, when not writing, I’m a husband, father, and high school teacher (not necessarily in that order). I enjoy sailing, cycling, and playing music, really loud, when my wife and kids aren’t at home, although now that I’ve hit forty I’ve begun to worry about cumulative hearing loss, so I’ve been dialling the volume back a little. (I blame it on my love of power tools and the rock and roll of my youth, although to be honest, there are few places in the world that are noisier than a high school classroom).

I also have a big garden where I like to get my fingernails dirty, and I love to eat the things that grow in it (the fruit and vegetables anyway—I’m not so keen on the insects).

As far as my writing goes, I’m currently working on my Crossing the Divide short story series. Melding tragedy with comedy and switching between settings in Central Otago, New Zealand, and Brisbane, Australia, each story in the series focuses on a different character and explores that character’s struggle to connect with the people in their lives.

The most recent book in the series, Square Pegs, is the story of an angry young man trying to find his way in the world. It came out at the major ebook stores in March. Here’s the blurb.

BJ Reynolds book pic

Tired, thirsty, and frustrated, Darryl wants only two things: a) a beer, and b) to be left alone by his troublesome neighbors. Fate, however, has other ideas.

Book 4 in the series will launch later this year. It’s the story of a young, foul-mouthed, opinionated mother-of-one and her friendship with a beautiful, elegant, upper-middle-class woman ten years her senior—also a mother-of-one. Both women live in small-town Central Otago and the story follows the events of a joint shopping expedition to a neighbouring town with their young children.

You can find out more about me and my writing at jbreynolds.net, or follow me on Facebook.

 

Thank you for being my guest this week JB  Reynolds – now are you also wondering what the initials stand for? Maybe he’ll tell us in the comments.

DRAGONS AND DISASTER

THE TRAVEL STORY

Penang was a nice place, but it was almost impossible to see much. Not from the top of the bus, that was too scary, but because of all the people, you could hardly put a pin between them (well a little more artistic licence here as one of the photos will show).

Altogether we spent 5 hours on that bus and the heat was unbearable as it wended its way down to Butan Ferringhi. Most places were incredibly filthy, the food stalls grungy, the public loos a disgrace and we were bombarded with rap and other raucous music and horrendous traffic jams.

We’d become so used to the row outside, people, car horns and delightful screaming children that I was slow to realize the dragon dancing in a house across the road. So apologies for the blurred pictures, I missed most of it.

HISTORY NONSENSE

Now those of you who are really switched on will have noticed that I’ve hopped back in time a little to tell you more about Bertie. (I’m not too fussed about precision if you’re not). At this point I wish to remind you of my disclaimer as to the accuracy of these lessons and should you fail any exam by quoting from my blogs I take no responsibility whatsoever.

Now just when you were thinking that Bertie was an absolute cad (an old British word for scumbag) you should know that when Lily Langtree became pregnant, Mr Langtree went bankrupt and left her and she was forced to retire from society.

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She moved into a small apartment and was astounded when Bertie – (by now called Teddy by most of his friends), knocked on the door.

He proved himself loyal and helped her begin her acting career by introducing her to all the right people. They had ceased to be lovers, but the Prince remained a good friend. That’s not probably quite as his wife Alix saw it however.

 

THE EMBARRASSING PROMO BIT

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I’ve not pushed my comedy book for a while and it’s worth a read, especially if you’re feeling a little depressed. I take you back in time to Fairyland, two hundred years on from that memorable ball, to tell you about Cinderella, now fat, blousy and very, very common. She’s had enough of King Charming and is planning on how to get a divorce. Add to this the elegant and prissie Snow White, married to King Harold who beds anything within reach, and Sleeping Beauty who is making up for lost time and terrorizing her wimpy husband King Augustus who can’t afford to feed the 28 children they’ve already produced. As if all that wasn’t bad enough enter the Green Giant who has been sent to cause a revolution among the happy peasants who are just that – happy.  http://amzn.to/2j26YUd

Till next week, take care.

MEET SALLY CRONIN

I’m really thrilled to have Sally as my guest this week. She is a tireless supporter of us Indie authors with lots of exposure (of the polite kind). She’s set up an online book store where she features authors and their books so it’s the very least I can do to return the favour. Do look out for her blogs, Smorgasbord – Variety is the Spice of Life they are always fun to read. How Sally finds the time to write books with all the time she spends helping other writers I’ve not the faintest idea, and moving from Spain to Ireland – I hope I’ve got that right Sally?

But that’s quite enough from me over to Sally, and we are all about to learn something very, very important.

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What’s in Name?

Sally Cronin has always been fascinated by names and their origins. Having met a number of people over the years who had been named after historical or famous people, she thought it would be interesting to write stories about men and women who then have to live up to the previous owners reputation. The twenty stories are about life, love, celebration and the overcoming of challenges by extraordinary people.

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In the first volume of What’s in a Name, we discover how Brian carries on the family high flying tradition with its origins in the caves of ancient man. How David fought gallantly in the First World War against the might of the enemy, and now stands with his comrades each year to pay tribute to those who did not return. Or how Grace finally achieved her dreams that filled her days in the orphanage.  All of the men and women in the stories bring a new dimension to their names that they can be proud of or be remembered for.

In a day and age where those in the spotlight name their children after football teams, capital cities or simply a colour, it will be interesting to see if the classical names of the past will survive.

Reviews and buy Link for What’s in a Name

Publisher’s website at reduced price of £1.95: http://www.moyhill.com/wian/index.html

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N6Y8BK1

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01N6Y8BK1

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin

All books available: https://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

Blog: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com

Sally’s other passion is healthy eating.

Size Matters: Especially when you weigh 150 kilos by Sally Cronin

Thirty years ago obesity was a rarity amongst children, and adults, and the related health problems were restricted to a small proportion of the population. Today, it is an epidemic and as we expand our waistbands we are forced into increasing our financial investment in health care for the resulting medical problems that can be life threatening.

There are a number of factors involved in obesity and not all of them are related to the amount of food that we consume. But it is directly related to the type of food we eat.

Our current obesity crisis has been fuelled by the ‘expert’ governmental advice that demonised fats in favour of a high carbohydrate diet thirty years ago. Whilst moderate wholegrain carbohydrate consumption has nutritional benefits for the body, the wholesale reduction in our diet of healthy fats has had a devastating impact on our health.

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Healthy fats have an essential role in the health of our major organs including our brain and heart, and play a part in maintaining a healthy cholesterol balance. Cholesterol is another naturally occurring substance in our bodies that has been treated with a shotgun approach to reduce its levels. Cholesterol is needed in many chemical reactions within the body including the production of hormones. Which makes it even more ironic, that pills are being prescribed to reduce cholesterol in men and women, at precisely the same time their hormones are already on the decline.

If you have a population with a diet that is predominantly carbohydrate, especially when it is refined white and often sugar laden such as white rice, packaged white bread, cakes, biscuits, pies and desserts, there is an immediate rise in the number of people who have diabetes. When blood sugar levels are high, any excess sugar is turned to fat, usually around the belly area

This white diet begins in the womb with the mother’s consumption of white carbohydrates and continues in sweetened formula and canned baby food. Once a child is eating solids and is given industrialised foods, chemically concocted from white flour, sugary cereals with artificial sweeteners, refined sugars and Tran’s fats, the reason for the steep rise in childhood obesity is identified.

After studying nutrition and the human body twenty years ago, I stopped eating all industrially produced foods and cooked from scratch. I ate a handful of wholegrain carbohydrates and eliminated sugar except for honey. I lost 70 kilos in 18 months and my key indicators such as Blood Pressure, Blood Sugar and Cholesterol all returned to normal levels.

Size Matters was based on my journal that I kept for those 18 months and also the programme that I designed to help me lose the weight. I went on to share that programme with over 2000 clients over the last 18 years, and have seen the results in others, as they lost the substantial amounts of weight.

The reality is that you can have some of the foods we all enjoy such as ice-cream, chocolate and Danish pastries. But it cannot be every day and for every meal. They have gone from being weekly treats to daily staples and that is one of the key elements in the rise in obesity levels.

The other element is that our activity levels have dropped from childhood to middle-age.  We used to walk to school, play for a couple of hours each day in the street or garden, play games at school three times a week and spend hours out in the sunshine and fresh air.  The amount of PE offered in school continues to fall and is now under two hours per week. Children are also easier to protect when they are behind a computer or in front of a television.

Families were lucky to have one car in the family, now there are usually two. Instead of walking to the shops every day for fresh produce we go in the car once or twice a week. Or we order online and bulk out the order with extras to reach the £50 needed for a free delivery. We take advantage of the buy two get one free and we abide by the use by dates throwing away food, buying more and eating it all before it goes off.

We are eating more food each day than ever before without any thought of how many calories we need daily or how much we are consuming. Little realising that one Danish pastry would require a six mile walk to work off.

Food is wonderful and I certainly do not deprive myself but something always pulls me back from too much indulgence. The memory of how I felt when I weighed 150 kilos could not climb stairs, take a bath, go on an airplane or was told that I would be dead by the age of 45 from a combination of lifestyle related diseases.

We are the ones who decide what we put in our mouths and we should not hand that responsibility over to the marketing department of a food company whose only interest is getting you to consume more food.

Size Matters and Sally Cronin’s other books are available through Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2/

Further reviews: Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin

Blog: Blog: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com

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RIDES AND RUMPLED SHEETS

THE TRAVEL PART

So we’d arrived in Penang. Now DH and I usually take the Hop on Hop off bus tour in a new city just to orientate ourselves and decide what we want to see. By this time we’d been to so many places it just wasn’t possible to plan in advance.

It seemed that half of China had discovered friends and family in Penang and rushed to spend Chinese New Year with them.

Initially we walked for miles and miles looking for the bus and quite by chance I noticed a shopping mall – a really nice, large, modern one.

Normally, like most men, any mention of shopping sends DH into a frenzy as he reaches for a bag of salt, a string of garlic and two sticks to hold up to ward off the evil eye. This time, even he was happy to take a break while we searched for information on the bus and where it might park up to let us on.

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We were in luck later in the day as we finally spied the Penang Hop on Hop off bus and sprinted after it as you do – well DH sprinted, my effort was more of a shuffle. Surprisingly we were not the only ones wanting to take a bus ride and I have vague memories of DH launching me into space over the heads of the waiting queue and on to the bus (a little poetic licence here). Time to meet another frustrated Formulae 1 driver and I took very few pictures as I refused to pry my fingers off the rail as I clung on for dear life.IMG_4256

Next day we decided we would continue our explorations on foot and returned on shaky legs back to the hotel which looked so much better in the dark – matching the delightful pictures on Booking.com.

HISTORY LESSON

When Bertie heard that his wife had been involved by being told about another indiscretion he was furious and challenged the husband to a duel. Of course to accept it, and win, would be a case of high treason. The irate husband was persuaded to to stop divorce proceedings – as if he had a choice!

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Did that stop Bertie? Not a bit of it, he hooked up with a wannabe actress called Lily Langtree and they were seen everywhere, but only when Alix was not around, if she was then Bertie was the perfect husband.  There was yet another scandal and once again the Prince was called into court to give evidence. Alix escaped by taking a Thompson’s fly cruise holiday over to visit her family in Denmark and Bertie was lost without her.

THE SHAMELESS ADVERTISING SECTION

I am announcing that all three of the Amie books are now available in Spanish. This is a brilliant opportunity for anyone learning Spanish to buy one each in English and also in Spanish and read them side by side. Think of that – I am not only entertaining you, but furthering your education at the same time. And you can choose either the ebook version or paperback. DH has spent many frustrating hours formatting in a language he can’t understand, so he would be very pleased if you would buy some as well.

www.amazon.com/dp/B01K7K4JHC

Till next week, take care.