A CASTLE AND CATASTROPHE

TRAVEL – PRAGUE

Of course, the main attraction in Prague is the castle. And, I know why they put castles on top of hills – so they could see who was coming to attack – but I don’t do hills. Luckily there was a bus that took us most of the way up, and dropped us in this square.

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HISTORY – ISABELLA OF SPAIN

Considering Isabella had never met Ferdinand, I can only think she decided he was the ‘one’ as they were about the same age – she is 19 and he’s all of 18. She would have seen a portrait I’m sure, but boy did the painters in those days lie through their brushes.

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But their royal marriage will be one of the few where the bride and groom are so close in age. Remember, while Disney tells us they lead happy, delightful lives, in reality they were just marriage fodder for the good of their country.

Ferdinand is introduced to her as “His Highness Don Ferdinand, King of Sicily and Prince of Aragon.” Unbelievably, he is indeed the man of her dreams. She is enchanted and Ferdinand? Ferdinand believes she is malleable. However, Isabella does not forget that Castile and Leon are more important than Aragon, Ferdinand will be given the title of King but out of courtesy only. I’m sure he was already planning how to change all that.

AFRICA FACTS

The girls and I grew very fond of Ntebeling and she said many times that she wanted to go on working for us when we moved into a place of our own.

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I was happy about that, but then we were moved, from Gaborone the capital to Francistown 450 kilometres to the north. I was surprised when Ntebeleng said that was fine she didn’t mind moving. A couple of days later she asked if her husband could come too and I agreed. She also added that he could help around the garden if I liked. I liked.

We’d been there less than a week when I began to notice long queues outside our gate every afternoon. Something was going on, but I couldn’t figure out what. Have a guess before next week.

ADD BREAK

I have managed with the help of a kind friend to link my web page to my blog. So you can easily hop from one to the other – and view all my books on my site (hint). I have published 12 so far in 3 different genres, so there is something for everyone.

https://lucindaeclarkeauthor.com

The link, just in  case 😊

Till next time, take care

Lucinda

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THE DEMISE OF 2018

adorable baby baby feet beautifulSomebody, somewhere has got to slow things down a little, the years are flying past much too quickly. I believe the perception is that each complete year is a smaller fraction of your life so far and therefore appears to move faster. There is probably a mathematical formula in there but for someone who still counts on her fingers – and toes – let’s not go there.   A look back on 2018 –

IAmie 5 cover 1 hyena had a slump in the middle of the year – and I didn’t get Amie book 5 finished as early as I’d planned but it should be out very soon, I’m taking my time and not rushing it. I love the hyena in the top corner, once again Daz Smith has produced a cover I’m really happy with. We had a vulture in there at one time, but decided he crowded the picture too much so we flew him off.

But all was not lost as I published 2 back stories

We met Samantha, Amie’s elder sister in book 1 when she was the one leaking news about Amie to the press causing all sorts of problems and in book 3 she flew over to stay with Amie and Jonathon in Africa and was a very difficult guest. All is explained if you get to know her better in this comedy about her first visit abroad as she drags an unwilling Gerry into one disaster after another.

Why he ever married her I’ll never know. I think she might be good for another couple of stories later in the year.

 

Amie Back Story - Ben

The second backstory tells us more about Ben. He was Amie’s cameraman in Amie Africa Adventure but when the civil war breaks out he disappears.

He pops up in Amie and the Child of Africa when Amie chases off to rescue her foster child and then in book 5 as …  but I won’t spoil the surprise!

In Ben we meet him as he is about to undergo his passage into manhood and what happens afterwards.

Both back stories are priced at $/£0.99 so they won’t break the bank.

2018 was a great year for awards. I entered 7 contests and won awards in 5 of them, so I was really thrilled.

AMIE 2 WITH ALL 2 MEDALS 2018

Readers’ Favorite awarded Amie and the Child of Africa a Gold Medal and Amie: Stolen Future a Silver Medal.

AMIE 3 WITH ALL 3 MEDALS 2018

I was particularly thrilled as Headline books chose Amie book 2 for a possible publishing contract as one of 10 books entered in the competition – and I understand there were thousands. They didn’t take it in the end but it was a real boost that they liked it. Had a ball in America going to Miami and was thoroughly spoiled.

 

 

The Wishing Shelf Awards gave Amie and the Child of Africa a Red Ribbon and I understand a medal will be in the post soon

The Global Awards also gave the same book a silver medal.

In the New Apple Awards, Amie Stolen Future was solo medallist for action/adventure and Unhappily Ever After was solo medallist in humour (or humor if you live in America!)

Finally, Amie Stolen Future (book 3) won a gold in the e.Lit Awards.

If I was hoping these would catapult me to fame and fortune – it didn’t happen.

As followers of my blog and FB page know, we live in a small rabbit hutch and there is minimal wall space. DH did try to put all these accolades into one frame but I’m not sure it works and it doesn’t hang on the wall either. I tried to frame the medals but made a bit of a hash of that as well. It’s not as easy as you think but I’ll have another go when the other medal arrives.

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I had two large promos during the year. The first one was for Amie Cut for Life which incorporates the theme of FGM and I was invited onto Voice of America – Africa for my first TV interview. I blinked my way through looking like an owl skewered on the end of a cattle prod. The live FB page interview was a fraction better but not by much. I have the perfect face for radio and those interviews went better, both on Voice of America and on Talk Radio Europe in Spain.

None of these shot me to the top of the lists either.

I have popped the book prices up and down, taken part in joint promos, blogged, was a guest and had guests on my blog and tweeted my way merrily through 2018.

My Bookbub followers went up, my FB followers remained static (I’ve refused all those hearts, roses, cute kittens, top end cars, stethoscopes and little kid pics beside a variety of singled/divorced men offering friendship) and my twitter followers took a dive. My loyal mailing list remained pretty much the same but is woefully slow compared to other authors with millions of friends and fans, despite being offered a free book to join and an exclusive signed paperback of The very Worst Riding School in the monthly competition – it’s not on sale anywhere.

I’ll just pop the links in here in the hope someone, somewhere, reading this might just add their name too.

newsletter sign up:  http://eepurl.com/c-GqWr

twitter name   @LucindaEClarke     https://twitter.com/LucindaEClarke

Facebook  My page https://www.facebook.com/lucindaeclarke.author

BOOKBUB    https://www.bookbub.com/authors/lucinda-e-clarke

So, what of next year 2019? I have two wishes. To be a NYT Bestseller (or Wall St or similar) I’m not picky. The other is to prove the moon is really made of green cheese. I think it’s the second is the one I might manage to accomplish as it will be much easier.

I’d like to give everyone a huge hug for being my friend this year and reading my blogs and newsletters and FB posts. I still can’t believe how supportive, kind and helpful so many of you are.

It only remains to wish you all a wonderful last few days of the holiday and a fantastic New Year with everything you would wish for yourself and those you love.

Lucinda

 

 

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

ST VITAS AND A VEHICLE

TRAVEL – PRAGUE

This week a few pics of St Vitus Cathedral. I usually take a photo of the name of a church, but this time I forgot and I’ve had to hunt on Google maps street view to identify it.

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It was quite awe inspiring.  It’s 600 years old and has in turn been called St Vitus, St Adalbert and St Wenceslas. (When I was little and sang that carol “Good King Wenceslas looked out…”  I thought it was – last looked out – and wondered what happened to him after that. My writer’s mind had him hung drawn and quartered, strung up, boiled in oil, burned at the stake or something worthy of the saint status).

In olden days in was the venue for coronations of kings and queens. It’s a Roman Catholic place of worship and this form of Christianity was forced on the Czechs under dominance by the Habsburgs. I discovered that in 1910 Catholicism was the professed religion of 96.5% of the population. The latest figures show 39.8% as atheist and 39.2% as Catholic.

HISTORY – ISABELLA OF SPAIN

To be honest, Ferdinand is a bit cheesed off acting as a servant to one of the merchants. He’s a bit of a spoiled brat and doesn’t like being bossed about. He’s not too good at this undercover stuff, and grooming the mules and serving at tables and to now skulk around dressed in servant’s clothes on the way to a country where he is only going to be the king consort is demeaning.

The party travel mostly by night, but when they stop at an inn, they become fearful they have been discovered.  As soon as they finish their meal, they decide to press on with the journey. They discover that they have left the purse with all their travelling money behind.  It’s too risky to go back for it, so they ride on, penniless. Is there no end to this excitement?

AFRICA FACTS

Of the 54 African countries I have only lived in and or visited 12 of them. I count myself very privileged to have travelled deep rural, into informal townships and many places not frequented by either tourists or local residents.

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With the film crew, we spent days in communities talking to local people, in broken English or with an interpreter. We also talked to wealthy people in positions of power. People are the same the world over, yet I saw more resilience, more fatalism and more courage than I have seen in so called civilised, western countries.

They  have a more happy go lucky approach too, as this picture below shows – yes the caption is true, I saw the paperwork.

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I was thrilled to hear that Truth, Lies and Propaganda was chosen by a book club in America. I do hope I get to hear what they thought of it.

Till next time, take care.

Lucinda

CLOCK AND CLUELESS

TRAVEL – PRAGUE

One of the main things to see near the Old Town Square in Prague is the special clock.

It is currently being repaired and was covered with a sheet that only showed the picture of the clock.

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This is a pic off the internet to show the real thing – when it is not covered by a sheet.

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It is an astronomical clock first installed in 1410, so I guess it is due for an overhaul. The 12 apostles pop out on the hour.

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I’m ashamed to admit I have no idea what this building is, but I like the architecture. I popped the signage into Google translate and it told me it’s the  Law School.

HISTORY – ISABELLA OF SPAIN

Now there were quite a few important and powerful people who didn’t want Isabella to marry Ferdinand but despite that, the two young people sign their agreement on February 7th 1469. Now all that remains is for them to meet and do the marrying thing.

The princess sneaks off but someone tells on her and Henry’s soldiers are sent to arrest her. (Told you this was an exciting story).

Bishop of toledo

Just in time the Archbishop of Toledo rescues her and takes her to Valladolid where she is safe.

Isabella summons Ferdinand from Zaragossa 200 miles to the east to come at once and marry her. Will he? Find out next time!

 

 

AFRICA FACTS

We were filming in a deep rural school and the teacher had prepared a Q & A session for the cameras. The question was “Who is the greatest man in South Africa?”

Rows of eager little faces were desperate to answer. “My Chief – Mr Magwane (the Headmaster) – Mr Sonenze (a teacher) – a famous footballer.”

After each ‘wrong’ answer, the teacher became more and more frantic. She gave them hints – such as prison on Robben Island – where is that? they wanted to know. Nobel prize winner – what is that? they asked.

mandela

Finally, she gave up. “Mr Nelson Mandela,” she told them brightly.

“Who?” they asked.

She gave up.

We wanted to laugh, but as an ex-teacher I felt for her.

AD BREAK

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

Till next time, take care.

SQUARE AND SQUATTERS

TRAVEL – PRAGUE

Close to the Charles Bridge is the Old Town Square – the focal point of the city.

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Old vintage Hollywood era cars were popular as tourist transport, though I suspect most were only a couple of years old if that.

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The square is lined with high end shops – DH had a very firm grip on my arm –

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The weather when went – beginning of June – was overcast and threatened rain, so many of the pictures are quite gloomy.

They have a Christmas market in this square and even at the end of June, it was buzzing

HISTORY – ISABELLA OF SPAIN

Isabella decides she’d hung around long enough over all this marriage nonsense and all these men queuing up to wed her (a medieval form of all those unwanted friend requests on Facebook). It’s time to take action and she sends a letter – the postal service was much better in those days – to Ferdinand, telling him that it’s about time they got hitched and he better be quick about it.

Fedinand 3

There is something our heroine doesn’t know – her being all good and simple and praying a lot – but her intended is no angel. He does like the ladies and he already has a son by one of them and he’s only 16. I can only think she forgot to take the pill.

Isabella has one condition though. Once married Ferdinand must come to her to get married not leave Castile without her permission. There were a whole lot more things he had to agree to but seems it was worth getting at least a foot into Castile which was so much bigger than Aragon his home country.

 

AFRICA FACTS

It’s very frustrating when politicians or even tourists take a whirlwind trip and then come back with all the facts. For example, I don’t know what it’s like to live in Prague after a few days there. Most guests are carefully shown handpicked projects, on routes that avoid the scruffy side of town and all the hosts are carefully coached beforehand.

It’s too easy to judge one culture by another. Take a squatter house for example. Built of wooden car-part packing cases, with tin roofs held down with old car tyres and draft-proofed with mud. Then you notice the satellite dish on top and gasp at the size of the television inside.

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Many happy residents were presented with newly built brick houses with indoor water connection and electric lights. It wasn’t long after the officials drove off that these new houses were up for rent while the ‘deserving’ families moved back into their makeshift house in the informal settlement. The money earned from letting was more important than the comfort of the modern conveniences.

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Time for this weeks advert – just what you have been waiting for!

 

AMIE OVERVIEW

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

Till next time, take care.

TRIALS AND TRAVEL

TRAVEL – PRAGUE

That first morning we made for the Charles Bridge – it was a focal point for most of the tours and I had booked plenty of them (I didn’t have the courage to admit to DH just how many)

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There are many bridges over the Vitava River, but you can’t miss the Charles Bridge as it is I think the only pedestrian bridge.

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It was built in the 14th century and, later, lined with statues and today there are street musicians, postcard sellers, portrait painters, musicians and lots of tourists.

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I felt very stupid when I learned that Prague was the capital seat of the kings of Bohemia. (Yes, a real place and not just a description for people wearing Laura Ashley outfits and flowers in their hair while setting fire to incense sticks). The city only became one in 1784 when Hradcany, Lesser Town, Old town and New Town were all combined into one.

HISTORY ISABELLA OF SPAIN

All those important people come and ask Isabella to be queen of Castile now that her brother has been poisoned – but she tells them not a chance – Henry is still king and it would be a bit tactless of her, not to mention just a tad dangerous. There is another war as those top guys fight it out, but I won’t bother you with all that just skip to the end when Isabella and King Henry sign an agreement.

Richard of Gloucester

 

Brilliant, it says Isabella can chose her own husband (Hate to tell you but Henry has no intention of keeping his word).

Now the hoards flock to ask for her hand in marriage. Richard of Gloucester is one – later Richard III of England.

(Remember that little rumour about princes in the tower? – yes that one). Probably a lucky escape.

AFRICA FACTS

I know this next bit to be true, as several kind people who have left reviews have mentioned experiencing this as well.

So, you are home on leave and people ask you lots of questions about what it’s like and you tell them an amazing story or two. There are two reactions. Either eyes glaze over and you realise they are not listening or, they don’t believe you.

You shut up.

Or, they are fascinated and then say how much they wish they were living abroad as well.  “But you can,” we say – (in those days o’seas contracts were much easier to get). Then come the reasons – mortgage payments, family, current job, too big a risk, education, free medical care – the list is endless.

Yes, we had an amazing life full of highs and lows but as with everything there is a price to pay.

A few pics of people and places, both have crept into my books in one disguise or another.

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Lots more to read in any of my books.

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

Till next time, take care.