CHURCHES AND CINDERELLA

TRAVEL

Now I’ve had to scramble looking for where I left off before Christmas and the Best Reads posts, and yes, DH and I were in Vienna. In my usual boring way, I had sussed out what there was to see and do, making copious notes before we left. We didn’t hang around but walked into the centre of town to the opera house.

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We meandered up the main central pedestrian way – the Stephansplatz and visited St Stephen’s Cathedral, an imposing Gothic edifice which was begun around 1350 or so, so it’s quite modern as you can see!

I was eagerly eying the shops but Dh managed just in time to whisk me into St Peter’s Catholic Church with its impressive dome.

In the middle of the Stephansplatz is this amazing statue. It was commissioned by the Habsburg Emperor Leopold I at the end of the last great plague to hit the city in 1679. It’s probably the most intricate column I have ever seen.

HISTORY

Queen_Elizabeth_the_Queen_Mother_portrait

I recently read a book about Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, written by an insider who painted her as less than loveable, although she won the hearts of the British people.

Without her, George would have struggled as king, a role he certainly never wanted. To begin with, she insisted he have elocution lessons so he would sound posh without stuttering and so, of course, she chose an Australian to tutor him. Makes perfect sense. She was said to be very controlling and very bossy.

ADD BREAK

This week the opening pages of my comedy Unhappily ever After. You didn’t really think that Prince (now King) Charming and Cinderella would live happily ever after did you? Come on, she was from the wrong side of the tracks, and if truth be told, he was a bit of a wimp. The other famous Fairyland characters, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty get a similar treatment. Throw into the mix the Green Giant sent by the ‘Red Party’ to rouse the simple, stupid peasants into revolting against their royal masters and the stage is set for disaster.

(I should mention this book comes with the following warning which is inside the front cover).

This book is not suitable for children, nor is it recommended for adults who are of a gentle, sensitive or nervous disposition. The opinions as stated by the characters are neither politically correct, nor in fact even kind or considerate. The author takes no responsibility for their appalling actions. It should be remembered that it refers to a time before the new laws about correct speech were promulgated. No offence is intended to any race, gender, creed or belief of any persuasion, and as such this narrative should be treated as a work of fiction.

The death of Charming’s parents – they simply adored chariot racing and misjudged that final bend – brought untold wealth to the young prince and power beyond belief. In his hands was the authority to dispose of any or all of his subjects as he saw fit. He was a total autocrat in a land that did not expect to be ruled in any other way. Yet Charming remained his own sweet self. The result was a happy and contented kingdom where each day was as delightful as the one before and would be forever more. Nothing would happen to disturb Charming’s idyllic life or his upright, well‑bred existence – not even his wife.

Of all marriages theirs must have been the most mismatched in the history of time. Everything that Charming was, Cinderella was not. She’d had a hard upbringing, in one of the poorest areas of Charmingdon and she’d never shaken her common accent. She’d been born a peasant and she would die a peasant. Not all the royal trimmings in the world would ever change that. Not that Cinders had ever been seen to make an effort. Since becoming a royal she’d had all the advantages of dancing classes, elocution lessons, instruction in etiquette, even horse riding lessons, but having made it to the top without such accomplishments, Cinderella really didn’t see why she should bother now.

Time had not been kind to the Queen’s figure either. She had a particular fondness for chocolates, toasted marshmallows, cream cakes, doughnuts, waffles, sugar buns – oh let’s be honest – Cinderella had a passion for anything edible. She spent the greater part of her day consuming everything in sight, and as her figure grew outwards, her appetite grew in tandem. She was of average height, with dull, mousy hair, and the fair complexion and freckles to match. Her large bulk made it impossible for her to ever look smart despite heroic efforts on the part of her many dressmakers. As soon as she began to move, her flesh wobbled in every direction, and at the extremity of a pair of very stout legs were the most amazing feet you’ve ever seen. Even she had to admit they were not exactly the most beautiful feet, but, she had a lot to thank them for. She was the only female in the whole land whose foot fitted that slipper lost at the Ball, and that made them the famous feet that had become her trademark. They were always bare. She liked, she said, to wiggle her toes at all times.

Despite all this Charming adored her. In his eyes she could do no wrong. He did not recognize her common behaviour, her faults, her gross appearance, her appalling manners. To him she was perfection incarnate. True, she had a bit of a temper, but everyone has their little foibles and if she possessed an interesting way of expressing her feelings, well, that was part of her enchanting personality.

Cinderella was not so inclined to adore her spouse. The thought of being the most important queen in the land had thrilled and excited her two centuries ago; to get ‘one up’ on those snotty sisters of hers was a dream come true. But it all turned out to be very boring. She began to despise her adoring husband. He irritated her with his goodness, yet it was his very goodness that made it so difficult to be really nasty to him. He failed to understand her snide remarks, her sexual innuendoes, her criticisms. She sat for hours wondering how to free herself from this marriage she had come to loathe. Perhaps she should come straight out and tell him in a language even a four year old would understand. Yes, she’d procrastinated long enough. She’d tell him today, this morning, at breakfast.

Till next week, take care.

YOU MUST HAVE A CHRISTMAS PRESENT EVEN IF IT’S A DISASTER

I’m taking a break this month from the usual travel, history and ‘buy my books’ blurb because it’s the festive season and if you were ever going to buy my books, you probably already have them.  Xmas church

With all the talk this year about refugees and religious difference I was surprised to see that Christianity still has the largest number of followers worldwide. Not that religious practices seem to be the main focus on 25th December. No, it’s all about spending money – possibly even going into debt – to give our loved ones presents.

wrapped xmas presents

It doesn’t matter that they don’t even know what they want, or that they don’t need anything, they MUST receive a present from everyone near and dear on the festive day.

One good thing about being a writer is that you can unload all those first edition books that are cluttering up the shelves, as you’ve now re-published them in nice new covers. The relatives will probably never read them anyway, but it clears your conscience.

When I asked DH what he wanted for Christmas I was expecting the usual shrugs and grunts. binos

To my horror, he’s asked for new binoculars – and I know he doesn’t want the Christmas cracker variety.  Nor is it going to be a massive surprise as he’ll comb the web for days choosing just the right ones. I’ll dig (as cheerfully as I can) into my book budget account and order them from eBay or the Big A and the parcel will arrive at the door.

xmas present

Then I will stupidly cover the box with expensive foil wrapping paper, place a shiny red bow on the top and watch him rip that to shreds and express surprise on Christmas morning.

No, that’s not DH, he’ll smile, give me a kiss say ‘thank you’ and go and test them out by spying on the donkey in the farm below our terrace.

Last year I bought him an in-car camera. Now that was a surprise but it caused days of angst. Firstly, he didn’t want to attach it to the windscreen as per instructions. No, he wanted it on the dashboard. Weeks of finding the right sticky pad and it was ready for testing but to his horror, it recorded all his journeys upside down.

dashcam

More hours were spent combing the internet, until he found a programme to download that promised to cure this problem. It did. But now it reversed the picture and showed DH driving on the left-hand side of the road – we live in Spain where they drive on the right. Not good if the police view it in the aftermath of an accident. How do you explain in broken Spanish you were kerb-crawling on the right when the camera tells them otherwise?

Emails flew back and forth from DH to the manufacturer until finally the camera was parcelled up and sent back (he had to pay the postage). A new one arrived and DH set it up only to discover – yes you’ve guessed it – it recorded everything upside down.

Now I come to think of it, I’ve not seen it around. He’s probably stuffed it in a drawer somewhere.

I’m happy to give at Christmas, but I hate wasting money – buying just because the advertisements on the television, newspapers, and radio tell us we must.

That said, DH will get his stocking. Oh yes, he gets one from Santa every year, but because Santa is buying the contents I don’t have to worry about spending my money. Luckily the old man from the North Pole is very practical and fills it up with chocolates, (particularly the ones I like) toiletries, an orange, nuts and other disposable and necessary things.

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Nothing here goes to waste. If DH notices there were 3 oranges in the fruit bowl yesterday and only 2 today, he wisely says nothing. Even the Christmas we were away on a cruise, Santa managed to sneak DH’s stocking into my suitcase, probably an easy task for him after scrambling down all those chimneys!

gift voucher

Now if DH asks me what I want it’s always the same old boring thing – book vouchers. I’m happiest if I can keep my Big A account in credit so all I have to do is click on the ‘buy now’ button and not ferret around searching for the credit card.

I have thought of asking for the professional photo package, the makeup, hair and proper lighting, the works. But, I suspect it won’t up the sales in any way. I’m practical enough to know I was not first in the line when the visual images were handed out, and will more people want to buy my books because I have long, flowing, golden locks and eyes the size of flying saucers? They would get a horrible shock if they ever attended a book signing and compared it to the real me and, I’ve met several FB book friends and they could so easily give the game away. No, guess I guess I’ll stay as I am.

Next week I’ll be showcasing the first 5 of the best books I’ve read this year, so keep an eye open for that.

Till then, take care and happy shopping.

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.

BIG TRIP AND BLURB

The Big Trip was nearly over and even though I love our little rabbit hutch, I was still not ready to go home after 2 months. I adored the warm climate in Singapore and I was not looking forward to February in Spain.

steak house

For our last meal we went back to our roots and had huge steaks in the Black Angus Steakhouse – though to be honest, since we left South Africa I’ve yet to have as good a steak as we ate there. The steak was OK, the price was horrendous!

Then it was off to the airport – as smart, clean and efficient as the rest of the country and we were on our way home.

Our next trip would be seven months later, but that’s for next time.

HISTORY

I really have my doubts about this king, George V. I read that two months after the end of the war, the King’s youngest son, John died at the age of 13 after a lifetime of ill health.

PRINCE JOHN

George was informed of his death by Queen Mary, who wrote, “[John] had been a great anxiety to us for many years … The first break in the family circle is hard to bear but people have been so kind & sympathetic & this has helped us much.”

This poor little prince who suffered from epilepsy was hidden away from the public and ignored by the rest of the family. It was thought he was autistic and they didn’t want him to embarrass them in public. ­­­­­Prince Edward, who was eleven years older than his brother and had hardly known John, saw his death as “little more than a regrettable nuisance.”

That is so terribly sad.

 

MY BOOKS

I’ve decided this week I won’t tell you I write books and I’m trying to sell them and I want new readers to sign up for my newsletter  http://eepurl.com/cBu4Sf   and buy my latest brilliant book on the last few days of its pre-order so I’m not going to put the link in for that either.  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07545M9DB

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07545M9DB

Till next time, take care.

 

WHY DO I DO IT?

I need counseling, I do. I was very reluctant to leave my work in South Africa and retire – circumstances dictated it and was the head over heart thing and we were sensible. When your domestic cleaner is shot on your front lawn and the perpetrator WALKS away having relieved her of less than £5 in cash and a bank card he had no pin for, we recognized the writing on the wall.

Well at first the novelty of sitting leisurely over breakfast began to pall and in a couple of months, I was bored out of my mind. We moved north, so that occupied me for a while and then I got bored again. I taught myself power point and gave a few historical lectures and talks and then I decided to write a book, well finish off a manuscript.

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Why did I ever do that! Before I knew it I was on the merry-go-round to blogs and Facebook and Twitter and all the paraphernalia that entails. The upside I met a lot of great people and made some good friends and I was bowled over by how kind and friendly everyone was. I’ve been lucky so far in that I’ve only met a couple of cyber bullies and lost one dear friend I still miss terribly.

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I sweated for weeks trying to work out how to use MailChimp, Bookfunnel and WordPress – again wonderful people came to my rescue.

I signed up for lots of blogs from experts on how to sell, how not to sell, how to build mailing lists, how not to alienate readers, give out free books, never give out free books, don’t spam, announce your book on every channel, people have to see it 7 times before they buy. Sign up for this course, you’ll hit the NYT list overnight – no that course is £800 down the drain, try this one for only £799.

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I researched different promo sights, asked for advice and shared what I had learned with others. Give it all time to grow I was told. Time! At my age! By the time I let all this filter through to huge sales I’ll be pushing up the daisies – one of the reasons I have not even considered looking for an agent or publisher – and anyway I like being in control of my work. I wanted to cry when I saw what traditional publishers had chosen for the cover of my book.

The bottom line is I’m now working as hard as I ever did running my own production company and I don’t seem able to stop. Apart from reading and entertaining DH and a weeny bit of socializing, during which I’m groveling under the table checking my sales figures, puzzled as to why I’m met with blank stares when I bounce in and cry “I’ve got a BookBub!” – I can’t settle. If I’m not writing or pounding the keyboard I might do a little house cleaning, and watch DH as he dons his boots and gardening gloves to tend to our four window boxes. Most of the rubbish on television doesn’t grab me much either and I’m usually tweeting as the pictures on the screen flash past. The only time I concentrate is when they show foreign language films and I have to read the subtitles. If you took my lap top away I’d be prowling around the house, fingers wiggling searching for the keys, ideas crowding through my head screaming to get out.

I guess I’m just a lost cause and there’s no cure for it.

Guess I should mention that Amie 4 is up on pre-order

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07545M9DB

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07545M9DB

and I’ll do the grovelling bit I guess. 

Anyway, having had a moan I feel a lot better now.

Oh, if you’re wondering why I’ve included totally inappropriate pictures of African wildlife – it’s because I’ve read three blogs this week warning about prosecutions for using uncopyrighted material, and these are my own pictures and I’m not planning on taking myself to court anytime soon.

Till next week, take care.

 

 

 

FORTS AND FORMS

I can’t resist posting more pics of the cable car ride. I just adore these flights suspended in the air, swaying gently like a bird. The most frustrating thing is trying to clean the glass to take clearer pictures. DH wouldn’t let me open the door and hang out for the really good shots.

At the other end, our first port of call was Fort Soliso. DH took an inordinate amount of interest in this fortification built to protect Singapore. He simply had to explore everywhere and I got pretty fed up. The only picture I took was this peacock sitting on a wall.

I must admit they had set up some pretty impressive displays. DH spent hours yesterday looking for the ones he’d taken but they’ve gone to ground in some file on his laptop and so it was back to the internet.

HISTORY

GEORGE v

George V’s full name was George Frederick Ernest Albert; I’m very puzzled why they give so many names to royal people, it’s not as if they are likely to get mixed up with the common folk.  I guess too they don’t have to fill in those fiddly forms which give you 2 centimetres to write a seven line address. Now that part would be easy for them, Buck House, London would find them I’m sure, but 4 Christian names? It’s just as well they changed to Windsor from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. I bet he never filled in a form at the post office NAME: ………   on which he had to fit George Frederick Ernest Albert Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.

BOOKS

Several people have asked me if there is a synergy between me and my heroine Amie. I have to confess there is, except she trained for film work and I fell into it. She was left destitute in the African savannah, which was similar to me being left in the bush with a 9 week old baby. Admittedly I didn’t slog across the veld for days, but I did plenty of walking looking for that one pony who escaped more often than Houdini. The one huge difference is she’s a brave heroine and I’m the world’s biggest coward!  Have you read her books yet (I’ve had very little to do with them).

NEW SERIES COVERS 2

 

myBook.to/Amie1   myBook.to/Amie2      

http://www.amazon.com./dp/BO1M67NRG4

Till next week, take care.

 

 

THIS DOESN’T HAPPEN OFTEN

I’m trying to type this up with my eyes closed and that’s not easy for me as I’ve never learned to touch type. I do so hate this self-promotion stuff, but as DH informed me in ‘that’ kind of voice if I don’t tell anyone I write books then no one will buy them.

So I suggested he write this blog and got ‘that’ look. DH wouldn’t touch Social Media with a bargepole. He must be the only person on the planet who doesn’t have a Facebook page and has only learned that Tweets exist since they’ve been showing Donald’s efforts on the BBC news. He’s just told me to stop whinging and get typing. (Rumour has it he was browsing the yacht chandlers yesterday, but I’ll be lucky if I can afford a bath sized boat for him to play with – which I wouldn’t buy anyway as we only have a shower).

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Big breath and here goes: My first memoir Walking over Eggshells is on sale until Monday at $/£0.99 if you want to grab it cheaply – available on all outlets. myBook.to/WoE

The blurb is:  Walking Over Eggshells is an autobiography that tells the story of a mentally abused child, who married a “Walter Mitty” clone. They moved from England to Kenya, from Libya to Botswana and on again to South Africa. It took all her courage to survive in situations that were at times dangerous, sometimes humorous, but always nerve wracking. She had a variety of jobs, different types of homes, and was both a millionairess and totally broke. She met royalty, hosted ambassadors, and won numerous awards for her writing and television programs. She also climbed over garbage dumps, fended off bailiffs, and coped being abandoned in the African bush with a seven-week-old baby with no money or resources. She admits to being the biggest coward in the world, but her survival instincts kicked in and she lived to tell her story. This book will make you laugh and cry and hopefully inspire others who did not have the best start in life either. 

This morning WoE rose to the giddy heights of 242 overall in paid Kindle books on Amazon but of course, I had a little help from BookBub, no, make that a lot of help! And, as they do, it’s sinking a bit now, but I was there with the screen shot. And the little yellow sticker has gone too and I only blinked once! You may say “Oh how sad Lucinda” here. But I am thrilled with over 600 sales since BB did not accept it for America. WoE is also up for a paperback giveaway on Goodreads, closing date September 10th. That comes with a free bookmark and a pen – that’s the best I can do, I live in Spain and the postage is too expensive for mugs and aprons, wall hangings and Lucinda E Clarke pyjama sets. https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/241508-walking-over-eggshells

As I’m getting ready to put the 4th book in the Amie series up on pre-order, I’ve also dropped the price of book 1 to $/£0.99.

Amie – African adventure – in case you might like to meet her. As far as I know she is the only female spy in Africa – though that doesn’t happen until book 3. And the blurb for that is:

AMIE 1 NEW COVER KINDLE HIGHER RES

Just an ordinary girl, living in an ordinary town, with nothing but ordinary ambitions, Amie Fish is plunged into hot water when her husband is posted to a country she’s never heard of. Amie’s ability to adapt and make a life for herself in equatorial Togodo lands her in more trouble than she could have imagined, her life is threatened and everything she holds dear is ripped away from her. She is left fighting for her life. If she could have seen into the future, she would never have stepped foot on that plane.

It’s got lots of nice reviews and you’re not taking a massive chance at that price, are you? And, if you’re enrolled in KU it won’t cost you a cent. myBook.to/Amie1   

WRS Kindle Cover (1)

 

And, there’s more. I launched part one of my free book The very Worst Riding School in the World at the end of June and to date, it’s had over 1,200 downloads pushing that to #1 in genre on 5 Amazon sites.  myBook.to/WRS

Finally, if you still need reading material here’s a final reminder for the big book competition http://bookhub.online/book-giveaways/super-summer-reads-giveaway  press the link to enter before it ends on Sunday.

That’s all from me until Thursday and another author to meet, I so prefer that 🙂  And if you’d like to share this post, I really won’t mind 🙂 (Luckily you can’t see me grovelling at this point, it’s not a pretty sight!)

Take care.