IN THE FIRING LINE

For years I’ve been a victim of scribbling mania. It’s a disease that can start in early childhood and stays with you until you are no longer compos mentis and unable to hold a pen or identify the letters on a keyboard.

I am one of the lucky ones who managed to support a family by utilizing this malady and would jump out of bed crying “Yeah, it’s Monday!” On the other hand, public holidays would throw me into a deep depression as I couldn’t get more work done or filming venues were closed.

few of the videos I made

Yes, I’ve been a lifelong sufferer.

It was not all plain sailing. Often clients would say “This is brilliant … but …” and I knew that the criticism was coming. It was all a learning curve and hopefully, as the years went by, I improved, the negatives declined and I learned to understand that all people don’t like all literature, films, plays and even the adverts I composed and produced.

When I retired, I stupidly thought I was over this disease, but the symptoms got worse. My fingers would wander towards the keyboard, the ideas whirl round and round in my head screaming to be let out, I got jumpy if I couldn’t plant words on the screen.

I tried to cure the agony by writing a monthly column in a local magazine but it wasn’t enough to get my fix. I turned to writing novels and memoirs and 12 books later, the symptoms have not abated in the slightest, even though I am wearing myself to a frazzle.

Not everyone raved about my talent, or lack of it, but I’d been blooded in the media and do not take a one-star review to heart. I even do my best to cheer up other authors who are devastated by criticism. “Put your head above the parapet as a professional and expect to be shot down by someone, somewhere who does not connect with your literary work. It’s nothing personal.”

But, it seems today, it is.

woman typing writing programming

A few weeks ago, my monthly column raised a storm. It was a satirical piece with politics at the centre. Now, I’ve been writing on this subject 12 times a year for almost 10 years, but this one struck the wrong chord with a few readers.

They tracked me down on Facebook and wrote the most horrendous things that were personal, cruel comments, suggestions as to what I should do, or what should happen to me for having the temerity to put such words on paper. At the least I should be fired.

They wrote to the editor – who refused to let me see the emails as they were just too hurtful – and threatened to close the publication down by lobbying the advertisers who pay for the magazine. (I don’t get paid, I do it to help alleviate my addiction).

standing man wearing gray hoodie in front of magazine in rack
Photo by Bagus Pangestu on Pexels.com

None of these readers saw the humour or the satire in the piece which was so over the top it bore no relation to the truth.

I can take criticism, I really can, but was shook me was the level of intense hatred, vitriolic comments, the depth of fury and aggression.

What has happened to ‘Live and let Live?’ What caused these people to express their feelings in such a vicious way? They even threatened to report it to the police as a hate crime.

adult alone boy building

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The very least they demanded was a grovelling apology from both me and the editor.

In the next issue I wrote that I was sorry my article had upset anyone, it was never intended to do so, and mentioned some world issues such as FGM, poverty, climate change, pollution and dictatorships that are real world problems.

I was all for giving up the column but both DH and the editor begged me not to. That way the vindictive people would win, although if they had had their way, I would no longer be able to write anything.

However, I am now off the political scene – a bit of a relief as it was getting tiresome and  I will now satirise life in general.

On the upside, there have been lots of supportive emails, phone calls and messages to both me and the editor which has restored my faith in human nature. But it worries me that we live in a world that has so much underlying hate waiting to leap out at the slightest provocation. Has it always been this way? What do you think?

On a more cheerful note:- Next week, the first of my Great Reads of 2018. Don’t miss it.

Till then, take care

Lucinda

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A CASTLE AND A CHILD

TRAVEL – PRAGUE

More pictures of St Vitus cathedral as I took rather a lot of them and it would be a shame not to share them.

They started to build it in 1344, so as you can see, it’s quite new! I can truthfully say this as it was finally finished in 1929 in time for the St Wenceslas jubilee. The style is Gothic, which is very popular for large churches as they look big and important. Even today you can look in awe and wonder how they built them without modern cranes and machinery.

HISTORY – ISABELLA OF SPAIN

Ferdinand is trying to reach Princess Isabella to marry her. Eventually, very late the small party of merchants arrive outside the castle of the Count of Trevino. It’s well guarded as the Count is ready for an attack, it’s also well known that he supports Isabella and will give sanctuary to Ferdinand.

Osama castle

(I’m not absolutely sure this is the right castle, but I like the picture and you get the general idea).

The merchant’s party are tired and with no money to buy a meal, they are hungry and thirsty too.  They shout for the drawbridge to be let down, but seeing a party of rough travellers, one of the soldiers pushes a boulder off the top of the battlements.  Ferdinand is almost crushed to death. Obviously, he wasn’t expected.

I told you this was exciting, didn’t I?

AFRICA FACTS

As this bounces out through space and into inboxes, I will be in Miami for the Reader’s Favorite Awards. The book that has won the gold medal is the second book in the Amie in Africa series “Amie and the Child of Africa.”

I got the idea for the story from a news item. On the night of 14-15 April 2014 Boko Haram a fundamentalist group abducted 276 schoolgirls from their school in Chibok in Borno State, Nigeria. As far as I know not all the girls have been reunited with their families.

In the first book, Amie loses Angelina the little orphan she adopts when the civil war breaks out and so I put the two ideas together. A fast page turning tale with lots of adventure – pure escapism – pun intended.

Till next time, take care.

Lucinda

MEET MARK MOREY

I’ve lost count of the number of guests I’ve had on my blog, and I have not read all the books featured, but this week is different.

My guest is Mark Morey and I have read two of his books and thoroughly enjoyed them and the third, the one set in Japan is on my kindle and second in the queue to be read and I’m really looking forward to it.

I enjoy his stories as they are set in different countries and the first one that caught my eye was No Darkness as it was set in Zimbabwe.  But Let Mark tell you his own story.

MARK MOREY HEADSHOT

I hadn’t thought of writing fiction until I went to the local library to borrow a book, but couldn’t find anything which interested me.  By that stage I was tired of writing dry, technical dissertations, so I set myself the task of writing something more interesting.  It had to have interesting characters, and it had to have an interesting and unusual setting.  I thought authors better than me have written about many aspects of past and contemporary Western life, so I should tell a story far from that.

morey5-300dpi-3125x4167

My most recent novels please me the most.  No Darkness is set in my wife’s country of Zimbabwe, where we were married and had our honeymoon, and which has been through terrible times since then.  She and her people are the most wonderful people on this planet, and those good people don’t deserve what they’ve been through.  Nobody deserves what they have been through, but particularly not the people of Zimbabwe.  I have an insight into African culture and memories of my time there, which helped to write this story.  I hope those who read No Darkness will understand more about the tragedy of modern-day Africa.

morey5-300dpi-3125x4167 (1)

 

I like contemporary French music.  One of my favourite albums has a song ‘Dans Nos Souvenirs’ or In Our Memories.  I didn’t understand what it was about, until eventually I came across the Armenian Genocide of 1915.  I was quite shocked that I had never even heard of the first genocide, and I was sure that others would be the same.  Indeed, reviews have shown this is the case.  In Our Memories is currently under consideration for the UK school curriculum.

cover

 

The Syrian Civil War is complicated, and I set myself the task of writing Blood Never Sleeps about the rise and defeat of Islamic State in Syria.  For this I got the help of Syrian Kurds, who have translated my novel into Kurmanji Kurdish for use in their schools.  For Westerners, the stoicism of Kurds and Arabs under stress may seem a little distant at times, but this is how they are.  Even in battle, living or dying is in God’s hands, and if you die for a good cause then you will be a martyr.  But there is more to Blood Never Sleeps than battles and war.  These Kurds are aiming not for women’s equality, but for the total dismantling of the patriarchy.  I do thank Komutan Rodja Felat for allowing me to use her and her words in my story.  Also a big thank-you to ‘Clara Raqqah’!

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My country of Australia was shaped by the Pacific War against Japan.  My father and my uncle fought in this conflict, while my mother was terrified the Japanese would invade Australia and brutalise her.  At the time it seemed Japan would, but ultimately that was not their plan.  But how did a small nation decide to go to war against the rest of the world; a war they could never win?  After reading a crime novella set in pre-war Tokyo I was fascinated by the setting.  So Ketsumeidan opens in Asakusa, Tokyo in the year 1932, where forces seem determined to drag Japan to war.  I have been to Japan, and when I was younger I lived in Hong Kong and in Korea for a time, so I do understand the Asian way of thinking to a degree.  I have a friend who was born and raised in Japan, who helped me with aspects of Japanese culture.  Finally, a geisha helped me to get my geisha character right.  Ketsumeidan is the most truthful of these four novels.  Almost everything in Ketsumeidan actually happened, and wherever possible I used actual words of the people involved.  A letter by Shumei Okawa, the police interviews with Sada Abe, or the sad story of Chang Jiazhi (her real name was Zheng Pingru).  Zheng even had a Kenpeitai lieutenant as a friend.  It seemed like all the pieces were there waiting to be written, and all it needed was three, strong characters to bring this story to fruition.  For Australians and Americans, the war against Japan is well-known but not necessarily understood; while those in other parts of the world might be surprised that this brutal conflict was being fought two years before Hitler invaded Poland.  But Ketsumeidan is not about war and battles, rather individuals going against the flow because it was still possible that war wasn’t inevitable, and then when war happened; those who truly loved their country had to stop it from destroying itself.

All Mark’s books are available in e-book and print on demand paperback, from Amazon, Apple iBooks and other online retailers.

https://www.amazon.com/Mark-Morey/e/B00I3U8V2S/

Thank you Mark for being my guest this week. I hope lots of readers will check out your books and enjoy them.

 

 

 

I MUST BE ON A WATCH LIST BY NOW

I got the following email this week:

 

My nickname in darknet is ryley58.
I hacked this mailbox more than six months ago,
through it I infected your operating system with a virus (trojan) created by me and have been monitoring you for a long time.

So, your password from lucindaeclarke@gmail.com is …..

Even if you changed the password after that – it does not matter, my virus intercepted all the caching data on your computer and automatically saved access for me.

I have access to all your accounts, social networks, email, browsing history.
Accordingly, I have the data of all your contacts, files from your computer, photos and videos.

I was most struck by the intimate content sites that you occasionally visit.
You have a very wild imagination, I tell you!

During your pastime and entertainment there, I took screenshot through the camera of your device, synchronizing with what you are watching.
Oh my god! You are so funny and excited!

I think that you do not want all your contacts to get these files, right?
If you are of the same opinion, then I think that $859 is quite a fair price to destroy the dirt I created.

Send the above amount on my BTC wallet (bitcoin): 1NXNt72qfMhPZDffUEqryCYpEUzyR6LmgH
As soon as the above amount is received, I guarantee that the data will be deleted, I do not need it.

Otherwise, these files and history of visiting sites will get all your contacts from your device.
Also, I’ll send to everyone your contact access to your email and access logs, I have carefully saved it!

Since reading this letter you have 48 hours!
After your reading this message, I’ll receive an automatic notification that you have seen the letter.

I hope I taught you a good lesson.
Do not be so nonchalant, please visit only to proven resources, and don’t enter your passwords anywhere!
Good luck!

But it gave me food for thought – I had checked out a site which I guess could have been called porn but it was in connection with my story about Ben and his circumcision ceremony – honestly!

Like many other writers I’m probably on a watch list by now as I merrily google guns, explosives, torture techniques and similar stuff. I was warned by the team at Quora that my question about the distance you could throw certain kinds of bombs was inappropriate.  I guess they have a point  but it was information I couldn’t find on Google and several helpful people told me what I needed to know before the post was pulled.

And recently I needed to gather information about embassies and consulates and how they worked for Amie Savage Safari. Now put those altogether and I’m really a shady character.

This is maybe why I always get pulled over at the airport for that extra frisking. It can’t be my stunning looks or legs which start at my armpits, as I’m  old and wrinkly, and if the clefts in my face get any deeper they will make excellent smuggling hidey-holes.

Writing can be a minefield but we need vital and correct information for our books – the experts out there are ready to pounce and review our mistakes in CAPITAL LETTERS for the whole world to read.

Not one but 2 new books out in the Amie Backstory series – Samantha and Ben. Both available wide and both only $/£ 0.99.

Sam is a light, fluffy, cozy, comedy set in Benidorm, Spain and Ben is more serious – he is about to enter manhood in his rural African village where things don’t go to plan.

This is the link for Sam https://www.books2read.com/u/3J8B7e  

I’m still hoping to publish Amie Savage Safari before I go to Miami but it has to be just right and I’m a picky Virgo.

Take care

Lucinda

QUICK EXTRA

As my part in a group competition, it’s my day for sharing information. I am too daft to reproduce the page as it should be, but you can win books and a gift card for $50 to spend on anything you like on Amazon.

Do remember, if you click on a name to subscribe to an author – after the competition you can always unsubscribe again (I guess I shouldn’t tell you that!) – but of course you may be blown away by the brilliance of that authors; blog, web site, books etc that you are happy to hear from them 🙂

Here is the link to click which will take you to the entry page and tell you which books you can win.

https://www.greatbooksgreatdeals.com/blog/great-books-great-deals

Of course my book is there – Unhappily Ever After – currently on sale @$/£0.99 until the end of October. Hint, the paperback copy would make an excellent Christmas present.

https://www.books2read.com/u/3nYQJP

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Till next time, take care

Lucinda

MEET PENNY LUKER

I’m thrilled to welcome my guest this week as this will be one of the most colourful blog posts ever. Penny writes children’s books and the covers are so bright and attractive they jump out at you. And, yes, despite I’m a wrinkly, I’ve read several of them and loved them. Time to meet Penny.

Penny headshot

I think I’ve been a writer all of my life. When I left my job I flicked through years of diaries and found numerous (rather bad) poems on spare pages. Since leaving my paid work, I’ve taken numerous poetry and writing courses and I’ve discovered that writing is a skill where you keep on improving. Nature’s Gold and Autumn Gold are mixed anthologies with a variety of themes but my latest book, The Shadows of Love is an anthology based on the theme of love. It’s not sugar sweet love poems though!

Penny has written 3 poetry books:

mybook.to/AutumnGold     mybook.to/NatureGold    mybook.to/shadowsoflove

One of the most wonderful events in my life has been having grandchildren. I have four and have written a children’s book for each child. The Green Book and Tiny Tyrannosaurus explore family life. They touch on topics such as being greedy and stranger danger, with a sprinkle of added magic. Pablo the Storytelling Bear, tells stories of a wild polar bear and one that lives in the zoo. Following the wild bear allows the reader to become aware of the problems that wild life have to cope with in a changing environment, while the one in the zoo has magic and conversations with other animals. I feel it’s important that children’s books are fun. Desdemona the dragon without any friends, deals with loneliness and how sometimes we don’t see potential friends, because they are different from us. Children love making the sounds that go along with the story. It’s my one and only picture book and I did all the illustrations. It was such fun to do and I learned how to use Photoshop at a beginners level.

mybook.to/GreenBook                                        mybook.to/Tiny  

 

mybook.to/Desdemona                                     mybook.to/PabloSTBear

I attend a weekly writers’ group, The Winsford Writers, and so produce heaps of short stories. There’s another book on the way. Pebble on the Beach and The Mermaid were both published a few years ago. They are anthologies with mixed genres, but next I’m thinking of doing ghost short stories.

Short Stories

mybook.to/TheMermaidShort                            mybook.to/Pebble

The Truth Finder

I’ve also written The Truth Finder, a YA novel about earth in the fifth millennium. It’s about a young man who has the gift to read minds and his struggle to take control his gift. The sequel, ‘The Visualizer’ is nearly finished. I’ve been writing it all summer and I sometimes don’t want to come back to real life.

mybook.to/TruthFinder

Since leaving work I’ve definitely been focusing on my creative side. Apart from the writing I’m learning to play the ukulele and I play the piano after a fashion. I looked up all the old music I love and found easy versions to play.

I’ve also been to many art courses and classes in the last few years. I love doing batik work and painting pictures in wax. Getting messy doing printing or any form of painting is just such fun. Occasionally I produce something that someone actually wants to put on the wall. My favourite subjects are life and figure drawing and portraits. Sometimes I think that one will make a great character for one of my stories.

In real life, I help to care for some family members who are not too well, but I’m also a strong believer in life long learning. I enjoy meeting new people from all walks of life and discovering new facts, techniques and songs. Perhaps I’m a true Gemini, butterfly!

It’s great to meet another writer who crosses genres – it goes to prove if you are a writer, you can write anything!

You can find out more about Penny and her books here:

Author Blog   www.pennyluker.wordpress.com

Amazon Author Page   author.to/PennyLuker

Thank you so much for being my guest this week.

Till next time, take care.

 

 

 

 

 

MEET JUDY PENZ SHELUK

My guest this week is Judy Penz Sheluk who writes in one of the most popular genres – crime mysteries. I’ve not read her books yet, but after now, they are firmly on my TBR list.  Great news is that her latest book is out tomorrow – just in time to snap up for the weekend.

Judy at local festival

Judy Penz Sheluk is the Amazon international bestselling author of the Glass Dolphin Mysteries and the Marketville Mysteries. Her short stories appear in several collections.

Judy is also a member of Sisters in Crime International, Sisters in Crime – Guppies, Sisters in Crime – Toronto, International Thriller Writers, Inc., the South Simcoe Arts Council, the Short Mystery Fiction Society, and Crime Writers of Canada, where she serves on the Board of Directors, representing Toronto/Southwestern Ontario. She splits her time between Alliston, Ontario, and her property on Lake Superior, with her husband, Mike, and their golden retriever, Gibbs.

Gibbs enjoys the view

As an author, I get asked a lot of questions. One of the most popular is, “Where do you get your ideas?” While each author’s answer will vary, I typically reply “From life,” and then I’ll usually cite the premise behind my 2015 debut novel, The Hanged Man’s Noose:

 

A greedy developer comes to town with plans to build a mega-box store on the fictional town of Lount’s Landing’s historic Main Street, thereby threatening the livelihoods of all the indie businesses. That one was inspired by the goings-on in my actual town of Holland Landing (with one major exception: no one in my town was murdered over it).

The idea for my latest book, Past & Present, however, was inspired by death. Gosh that sounds macabre doesn’t it? And yet, it really isn’t. You see, I was trying to come up with a plot for book two in my Marketville Mystery series (the sequel to Skeletons in the Attic) and I was completely stuck. And then, on September 21, 2016, my mother, Anneliese Penz, passed away after a lengthy battle with COPD and a multitude of other health-related issues.

 

Going through her bedroom closet, I came upon a train case, the sort of case you’d have taken for toiletries and the like back in the 1950s. Tucked inside were a variety of documents, including her passport and immigration papers from 1952, documents from the ocean liner she came from England to Canada on (the TSS Canberra), old pictures and postcards…well, you get the idea. The thing is, I’d never seen any of these things before, and my mom never talked much of her life before coming to Canada to marry my father. In short, it was a mystery and the writer in me had to know more. I couldn’t ask my dad: he’d passed away from stomach cancer in 1970 at the age of 42.

I decided to start by researching the Canberra, reaching out to a friend who collects ocean liner memorabilia, and before long, a story was brewing. The end result was Past & Present, and while the story is fiction, the research undertaken by my present-day protagonist, Callie Barnstable, mirrors my own, right down to the occasional (and frustrating) roadblock as she digs into the past of one Anneliese Prei, who came to a “bad end” in 1956.

I’ve dedicated Past & Present to my mother, and the release date falls exactly two years after her passing. I like to think she’s with my father again, watching over me as my journey continues. It’s not exactly like life on an ocean liner, but some days it feels every bit as turbulent as a wild storm at sea…

About the book

Sometimes the past reaches out to the present…

It’s been thirteen months since Calamity (Callie) Barnstable inherited a house in Marketville under the condition that she search for the person who murdered her mother thirty years earlier. She solves the mystery, but what next? Unemployment? Another nine-to-five job in Toronto?

Callie decides to set down roots in Marketville, take the skills and knowledge she acquired over the past year, and start her own business: Past & Present Investigations.

It’s not long before Callie and her new business partner, best friend Chantelle Marchand, get their first client: a woman who wants to find out everything she can about her grandmother, Anneliese Prei, and how she came to a “bad end” in 1956. It sounds like a perfect first assignment. Except for one thing: Anneliese’s past winds its way into Callie’s present, and not in a manner anyone—least of all Callie—could have predicted.

Judy Penz Sheluk’s latest book in her Marketville Mystery series launches Sept. 21st and is available on Amazon in trade paperback, Kindle, and Kindle Unlimited: http://authl.it/afj

I checked out Judy’s  amazon author page and see she has written quite a few books – so lots for me to add to the list.  You can also find her on her web page at http://www.judypenzsheluk.com.

Thank you Judy for being my guest.