A SPANISH EPIPHANY

While most of us are taking down the Christmas decorations, here in Spain they are still celebrating. Sunday 6th is the Epiphany when the Magi or 3 Kings arrived to worship the baby Jesus and it’s the night before this that little Spaniards get their paws on the seasonal presents.

In towns all over Spain, they re-enact the scene and it changes a little each year. We live between two small towns so it’s sometimes difficult to decide which fiesta to attend, but we decided to make for the sea this year – we’ll go to the inland one next year.

I feel a bit guilty about this pic but I couldn’t resist it – not so easy to get on your donkey in a long cloak.

 

The inn on the beach was full, but the angel was there to watch over them, while the shepherds took shelter next to the bushes.

Since I was racing around trying to get the shots, I didn’t see the 3 Kings, who’d trekked across the beach to meet Herod, but this year the entertainment did not feature any belly dancing (and I don’t blame them, their goosebumps were the size of molehills the other year).

They were replaced by two juggling uni-cyclists and a fire-eating stilt walker.

The lovely thing about all the fiestas is the whole family takes part, and no one worries about being brained by the little hard-boiled sweets the Kings fling out of their chariot – one town ordered 6 tons of them this year after running out last year when they only ordered 4 tons). They rain down in handfuls of confetti-like killer hailstones and I failed to take an in-focus shot of the children racing in all directions gathering as many as they could. I groveled for a couple so I could share them with you.

The procession winds its way around the town, up and down the narrow streets as it gets dark.

Yes, it’s a real baby! I’m told it’s the most recently born in the village. This year he or she was very well behaved, not even squawking when they turned the floodlights on full blast and let the fireworks off. In total 3 sets of fireworks.

One year when the 3 Kings arrived the baby had been whipped away, possibly to be fed or have its nappy changed.

The same can’t be said for the camel though, it was definitely spoiling for a fight. I am terribly curious as to what was in the sack labeled ‘Produce of Brazil.’

Finally, the Kings took over the stable area, as the Holy Family made a quick exit at the rear, and settled down to dish out the presents.

It was all a bit much for this little one, would they ever call out her name to get a present? Sadly her parents were probably well organized and delivered her present early, so it’s right at the back of the van and will be one of the last to come out.

Just a reminder that if you would like a copy of the first in the Amie series – Amie: African Adventure, then all you have to do is sign up to my newsletter and I’ll be posting the link again in my next issue at the end of the month. http://eepurl.com/c-GqWr

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Amie reluctantly accompanies her husband when his work takes him to Africa, but a civil war breaks out and when the last plane evacuating all the foreigners takes off, she is left behind to survive any way she can.Amie Back Story v2.1

And you also get the Amie backstories for free, serialized each month. Some of the characters you can meet appear in important roles in book 5 which is a work in progress.

Till next time, take care.

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IT’S 2018!! SO …?

Firstly, I want to wish you all a fantastic 2018 with everything you would wish for – you can fill aspirations and resolutions in here ………… and that all those things you hope for yourself, your friends and your family in the coming 12 months will come true.

fireworks 2
PIC BY SEMNOZ

If you think about it, it’s all a bit of a daft hype isn’t it? The date changes and we all rush around starving ourselves to death, taking a deep breath and checking out the bank balance, or tapping away feverishly on the keyboard to complete that first/next book.

And all this because the date has changed and it’s not as if every culture even had the same timing either.

Standard_World_Time_Zones

Did you know over 200 years ago they were not afraid to mess with the British calendar?

The year 1752 began on January 1 (no great surprise there) but to align it to the one used on the continent they dropped the Julian calendar and adopted the Gregorian calendar which meant losing 11 days in the September – so Wednesday 2 September was followed by Thursday 14 September that year which came in at only 355 days.

Would I have been cross if my birthday fell in one of those 11 days – no birthday party and no presents – though I guess I could take a year off my age, because if the date of the day I was born on didn’t happen that year …?

Just for interest (I came across all this delightful information as I was changing over paper diaries) in the era for:

Byzantine the year begins on September 14 ushering in 6527

The Roman era will start on January 14 for the year 2771

While the Nabonasser year (please don’t ask) 2767 will commence on April 19th

The Japanese share January 1st with most of us, but they have already reached year 2678.

Finally, the Islamic New Year of 1440 will dawn on September 12th.

So, do not panic if you’ve broken or failed to achieve your New Year Resolutions by the middle of January 2018, you now have lots more dates to start all over again.

calendar

As usual, being so serious and level-headed I’m setting sensible, realistic goals for 2018.

Writing:- at least 5 words a day

House cleaning:- at least twice during 2018

Marketing:- 5 mins a day

Checking sales stats:- down to 549 times a day

Reading:- only one book a week

Leaving pc to do other things:- 20 minutes a day (that will include dressing, showering, eating, talking to DH etc, etc)

Talking: communicate with one other real, live human being who neither reads nor writes, once a month (that will be a tough one).

So, it’s none of this trekking off to the gym, walking up mountains, trying to touch my toes nonsense for me.

I’m already quite relaxed about my resolutions for 2018, and if I get a film contract, or a TV series or complete another book (Amie 5) it will be a bonus and I can reward myself with more cherry liquor chocolates.

That reminds me, I must check out the symptoms for chocolate poisoning. I’m knee deep in them here, not that I’m complaining – sheer bliss as the coffee jar is full as well.

WRS PRINT COPY

 

Final word, the paperback copies for The very Worst Riding School in the World have arrived.

That is part 1 and 2 – limited edition and never to be on open sale, but you might win one in a competition I’m having soon for my newsletter subscribers only. So if you would like to sign up, I’d love to have you.

http://eepurl.com/c-GqWr

That’s DH being camera shy again.

Till next time, take care.

 

I JUST CAN’T GET IT LARGER!

How about a Christmas present for me? It won’t cost you more than a moment and very little effort. I’m asking all you FABULOUS people out there for a re-blog of this post (flatter them p 148 of How to Win Friends and Influence People).

You see I have been trying to build up my email list like, well forever. Everyone I know has thousands and thousands and thousands of names and I’ve struggled to reach even a limited number – (you may sigh here).  Now I know the fake news going around that the Big A is about to go bust is nonsense and that we will only be able to sell our books all by ourselves, but I do see it’s a very good idea to have a healthy mail list a little larger than your friends and family – and I have a very small family. I’m fed up with sending dozens of copies of my newsletter to DH and myself over and over again.  He’s now threatening to unsubscribe!

I am sending out my Christmas newsletter on Saturday, December 23rd and my subscribers will get a free copy of:

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Amie African Adventure which has done really well and won lots of awards from individual readers and international awards and 173 reviews (unless some have gone AWOL while I type this!)

And that’s not all. Subscribers will be able to download Part 2 of The very Worst Riding School in the World – which is only available from my newsletter and will NEVER be on general sale.

WRS Kindle Cover book 2 (1)

Part 1 is available free on the Big A and wide and is also free so you can grab that short read if you have got this far.

https://www.books2read.com/u/bw8May

And that’s not all!!  (Amazing isn’t it?)

There are now 12 chapters of the Amie back stories and these build up month by month to download for free.

Amie Back Story v2.1

Sam, Amie’s spoilt brat of a sister, is taking her first overseas holiday with boyfriend Gerri and they are getting into all sorts of trouble in Spain – he’s landed in jail and she’s spent several hours in the lift between floors. The other character who features is Ben, who was Amie’s cameraman in book 1, she meets up with him in book 2 and he plays a huge part in book 5 which is still in progress.  DH has designed this lovely cover for the backstories.

Oh, and before I forget there is also a bit of rubbish blurb from me and if you would like me to feature your book, then let me know by this Friday morning (it takes me hours to sort out the techie stuff on MailChimp).  I’m not sure whose twisted mind designed it all but if you know who it is, advise them to steer clear.  So I think my newsletter is really good value and it only goes out once a month, twice at most. OK, I’ve finished groveling now and it only remains to wish you all a Wonderful Christmas with friends and family or a good book (preferably mine 🙂 )  and a Happy, Healthy and Brilliant 2018.  With love from Lucinda.

 

FRANCE AND A FAREWELL

TRAVEL STUFF

So there we were in Carcassonne, and we’d ‘done’ the castle what was next? Back at the B & B we discovered that our landlady had left a bottle of wine in our room, which was a nice touch, I guess she saw the birthday cards on the dresser.

Sunday we decided to visit the cathedral, but we should have gone earlier as a service was about to begin and the place was packed. We noticed no less than 3 beggars sitting outside but did not see anyone give them anything.

Coffee in the square followed, but all the shops were shut which surprised me, I remember them being open on Sundays in France. After a cup of very mediocre coffee at an exorbitant price, we wandered down to the canal to book our boat trip. (And I know Val has been waiting for this).

Carcassonne lies on the Canal du Midi which is the 240 kilometre long canal that joins the Mediterranean Sea with the Atlantic Ocean, considered at the time to be one of the greatest construction works of the 17th century. It was one of my favourite kings, Louise XIV who got things moving. The canal was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1996.

Now for those techie people, I mined these facts off Google. The total rise is 57.18 metres, and the summit level is 189.43 metres. It’s 2 metres deep and 20 metres wide on the surface but only 10 metres on the canal bed. I guess that means it’s best to stay in the middle?

HISTORY

Ex Edward VIII now the Duke of Windsor, only came home again to Britain after he passed on when the Royals attended his funeral.

 

grave of Edward VIII

He died in Paris, but before we say goodbye to him a bit of trivia. Edward VIII is the fourth longest-lived British Monarch, a total of 28,463 days. Well, of course, I had to get my calculator out to find out just how old he was when he died, and that’s your homework for this week!

By now his brother sat on the throne, not all the time you understand, there were times when he got up and walked around for a while. He didn’t want to be king, for a start he stuttered badly and that’s not good as kings are supposed to give very long speeches.

PIC of FUNERAL from the BBC.

EMBARRASSING NATURAL BREAK

Apart from DH (and he has a tendency to grunt when shown), there is no one to share this with except you, a lovely review I got from Book Viral for Amie African Adventure.

A powerful and riveting adventure set against a background of violent upheaval, Amie African Adventure proves a masterfully penned novel with just the right mix of suspense and plot. Matching storytelling grace with a story truly worth the telling, Clarke’s novel is explosively authentic and she’s not an author to skip on social commentary. In fact, far from it; but she makes her points without too much breast-beating, with a tender regard for her characters that gives her storytelling a natural gravitas thoroughly suited to unfolding events. We feel Amie’s angst and her character is carefully observed, Clarke’s dialogue is timely and authentic whilst tension and suspense are always to the fore as she navigates the complexities of her plot. It’s the necessity of circumstances which dictate the choices Amie makes and readers will react with varying degrees of outrage, anger and concern as they hope for a better future for her. Most importantly, it all makes for an enthralling read that keeps the pages turning at a feverish pace whilst setting the tone for an exciting new series.

For readers who appreciate a well written, intelligent and engrossing adventure story Amie African Adventure proves a must read and is recommended without reservation.

Buy link myBook.to/Amie1

Till next week, take care.

MONSTERS AND MONARCHS

ALL AMIE BOOKS OCT 2017Now on the first Monday of the month, I usually write about a book thing rather than my travels – such as they are. Right now I’m in the “Shall I, shan’t I?” stage regarding my next book. Do other writers suffer a sort of empty nest syndrome after launching their latest offering out into the world to meet the general public? (Not that Amie has gone anywhere she’s still lurking in the shadows!)

This time after the flurry of all the screaming and shrieking about the launch – delicately of course – I sat back and thought ‘what now?’ I was physically and emotionally drained. At that point, I heard a little voice from under the bed crying out to me. Don’t laugh! I’m a very sensitive person and I have these flashes occasionally. It was Horatio, begging to be let out.

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Back in the 1980s, I wrote several short stories for children which went out on the South African Broadcasting Service. They asked for more Horatio tales, but I had a miserly thought that instead of receiving a few Rand for every flighting I could add a few extra stories and have a whole book. Of course, this would sell millions overnight and I’d be off on my mega yacht in no time at all. I submitted a different series of stories about a witch to the SABC, completed Horatio and gave the manuscript to my then agent. I even produced what I now know is called swag to go with it.

I understand she tried Penguin in London who wrinkled their noses and that was that under the bed it went in South Africa, through 10 house moves, then packed into a cardboard box and flown to Spain and thrown under yet another bed, along with all those awards I shall never look at again.

So in my indecisive mood I decided to take action – not an easy feat getting under our bed the hydraulic lift thingie doesn’t work too well and I nearly sliced off an arm hoisting it out. Would you believe the two copies I have are typewritten on real, old-fashioned paper!

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Yes, that’s how long ago I wrote it. So now I’m labouring away, got an illustrator lined up and soon I will pluck up the courage to tell DH that the next offering will have pictures in it! I must just tell myself that I will not have a nervous breakdown trying to get it out for Xmas, or I’ll aim for Christmas 2018.

Since I’m already out there in 3 genres, what’s one more? I’m probably schizophrenic as it is, and it gives Amie a break for a couple of months.

HISTORY

Not only was Edward or David as he was called – they like things to be very complicated, downgraded to a Duke, the British royal family refused to be friends with him. He had broken the unwritten rules by saying he didn’t want to be a king anymore.

EDWARD viii

That was not on. If you are born a king or queen then you become a king or queen and you rule whether you like it or not and you stay ruling until you go to the big throne room in the sky.

The House of Windsor does not do this abdication thing and let the youngsters take over and have a go. In the UK the Heir Apparent might wait for years and years and years.

But there was no stopping Edward from making history and after a lot of fuss, his younger brother had to step in and take over.

THE BOASTING BIT

AMIE 1 AWARDS 18 OCT 2017

Just have to share with you that October was a great month with two really unexpected awards. Amie African Adventure was a Finalist in the Book Excellence Awards in the Adventure category and a Finalist in the IAN awards in Literary Fiction.

And, Walking over Eggshells was a Finalist for First Non-Fiction in the IAN Awards, so I am very thrilled.

Till next week, take care.

WANDERINGS AND WALLACE

TRAVEL BIT

We walked around Carcassone castle and were very impressed with how well the building had stood up for the last 800 years, I mean even the walls were nice and clean.

DH remarked several times that they don’t erect edifices like they used to, to last for centuries. I detected the odd pitying glance from the passers-by, which was puzzling. We sat and watched the movie on its history and learned that all the people living in and around the castle had been ordered to go and relocate on the other side of the river.

Next, the Black Prince came along and set light to the Bastide as they call it, and that didn’t do it much good either.

The locals were quick to grab what stones were left to build their own houses and I understand they didn’t leave much of it.

So what did we see? I’ll tell you next week.

SHOCKING HISTORY

Now, on one hand asking Wallace Simpson to marry him might have reassured many people that Edward VIII was not gay as had been thought by some. But there was an even bigger problem. She had married and divorced twice before and both her ex-husbands were alive and well.

Prinz Harrys Urgroßonkel Herzog von Windsor traf Hitler

This would never do. The King was the head of the Church of England they didn’t allow such things. The answer was to marry and shove off, or find a better match. Some historians tell us that the lady in question wasn’t all that fussed about marrying Edward, but she had told everyone that she would re-furnish Balmoral Castle and get rid of all that nasty tartan that Queen Victoria had installed.

BALMORAL

THE NATURAL BREAK

That’s what they say to pretend they are not advertising yes?

I thought I would do something a little different and paste in the beginning of one of my books over the next few weeks. I’ll start with book 1 of the Amie adventure/spy series African Adventure.

They came for her soon after the first rays of the sun began to pour over the far distant hills, spilling down the slopes onto the earth below. At first the gentle beams warmed the air, but as the sun rose higher in the sky, it produced a scorching heat, which beat down on the land with relentless energy.

She heard them approach, their footsteps echoing loudly on the bare concrete floors. As the marching feet drew closer, she curled up as small as she could, and tried to breathe slowly to stop her heart racing. No, please, not again, she whispered to herself. She couldn’t take much more. What did they want? Would they beat her again? What did they expect her to say?AMIE 1 NEW COVER KINDLE HIGHER RES

There was nothing she could tell them, she was keeping no secrets. She knew she couldn’t take any more pain; every little bit of her body ached. How many films had she seen where people were kicked or beaten up? She’d never understood real pain, the real agony even a single punch could inflict on the body. Now all she wanted was to die, to escape the torture and slide away into oblivion.

The large fat one was the first to appear on the other side of the door. She knew he was important, because the gold braid, medals, ribbons, and badges on his uniform told everyone he was a powerful man, a man it would be very dangerous to cross. He was accompanied by three other warders, also in uniform, but with fewer decorations.

They unlocked the old, rusty cell door and the skinny one walked over and dragged her to her feet. He pushed her away from him, swung her round and bound her wrists together behind her back, with a long strip of dirty cotton material. She winced as he pulled roughly on the cloth and then propelled her towards the door. The others stood back as they shoved her into the corridor and up the steps to the ground floor.

She thought they were going to turn left towards the room where they made her sit for hours and hours on a small chair. They’d shouted and screamed at her and got annoyed when she couldn’t answer their questions. This made them angry so they hit her again.

She’d lost track of the time she’d been here, was it a few days, or several weeks? As she drifted in and out of consciousness, she had lost all sense of reality. Her former life was a blur, and it was too late to mark the cell walls to record how long they’d kept her imprisoned.

This time, however, they didn’t turn left. They turned right at the top of the steps and pulled her down a long corridor towards an opening at the far end. She could see the bright sunlight reflecting off the dirty white walls. For a brief moment, she had a sudden feeling of euphoria. They were going to let her go!

myBook.to/Amie1

audio   https://www.amazon.com/Amie-African-Adventure/dp/B0725CYNYG

Till next week, take care.

 

CASTLE AND KINGS

CARCASSONE CASTLE

As we walked (well DH walked, I staggered) over the dry, grassy moat and the bridge to buy our entry tickets, I thought the castle was in a remarkably good condition considering it had been assembled in the XII century. It was built by the Trencavel family who added a bit more to it in the following century. Showing off how rich they were no doubt.

An interesting family they turned a blind eye to the Cathars, who’d developed their own version of religion and so the Pope of the day declared a crusade under Simon de Montford who laid siege to the city.

After all that was over, the town was declared French and they thought the castle would be very useful in manning the Franco/Spanish border. Which turned not to be such a good idea as someone went and moved the border further south. Now, Carcassone was several miles inside France. After all that effort!!

HISTORY NONSENSE

Now while George had 5 sons, one as I’ve said was locked away so you’ve probably heard about the two eldest Edward and George – though Edward was called David, just to be confusing.

EDWARD viii

  • File:Bundesarchiv Bild 102-13538, Edward Herzog von Windsor.jpg

He’d only been king a few months (his father George V had died in the meantime, so it was Ok for him to become king) when he asked a lady called Mrs Wallace Simpson to marry him and this shocked the whole nation.

THE EMBARRASSING BIT

Yes, here is where I mention my books, though I have far more fun writing about the other stuff on my blog.

I have 8 out so far, in 3 different genres which only goes to prove I’m a bit schizophrenic I guess. Memoirs x 3 – Humour x 1 – Adventure/thriller/spy x 4.

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

Worst Riding School - 2

 

Don’t forget my reader magnet which you can snaffle for free – short read myBook.to/WRS embarrassingly all true.  All books are wide except for the Amie series.   Until next week take care.