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.

francistown

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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DEFENESTRATION AND DITHERING

TRAVEL – PRAGUE

Still in the castle, we latched on to an English speaking guide who showed us the few rooms that were open to the public.

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She was particularly eager to explain defenestration, which is the practice of throwing people you don’t like for one reason or another out of windows after which they inexplicably died.

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In 1618, in an argument over religious freedom, two Regents and their secretary were thrown out of a window on the third floor – 21 metres from the ground. They survived. The Catholics maintained they were caught by angels or the Virgin Mary. The Protestants said they landed in a heap of dung. These days James Bond does that all the time without a hair out of place and not a speck of dirt on his white dinner suit.

HISTORY – ISABELLA OF SPAIN

Servants are sent poste haste to Rome to get the Pope’s permission for cousins Isabella and Ferdinand to marry. Like the proverbial magician, the Archbishop of Toledo agrees to sort it all out. It is rumoured that he himself wrote out the dispensation.

pope paul ii

 

Are we to believe that Isabella thought a dispensation, to and from Pope Paul II in Rome could be obtained in 4 days? Even using the autobahns it would be pushing it.

While Ferdinand realizes that he is marrying a deeply religious woman, whose devotion to duty is equally paramount, he is also convinced that she is his to command. Ferdinand the adventurer, so worldly, so much the man of action believes that this convent bred girl, a weak female will be subservient. Oh silly man, you have no idea at all have you?

 

AFRICA FACTS

I’m not sure how many people are aware the Africa is probably the richest continent on earth. It has many rivers, wide areas for agriculture and a wealth of precious and useful minerals deep below the ground. Many of its countries have access to the sea and deep water harbours. Trade routes east were established long before Europe was even aware just how big a land mass Africa is. It also has a workforce that, once educated and trained can meet the demands of a modern world.

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Sadly, with tribal infighting, civil wars, jostling for power and man’s insatiable greed so many suffer as a result. Will it ever come right? Well for the few at the top, life is pretty good now, except how relaxed they are is anyone’s guess. Only time will tell. In the meantime, maybe life will fall apart in the Old World – who knows!

There are lots of tale about my media work in Africa in my career memoirs, Truth, Lies and Propaganda and more Truth, Lies and Propaganda which may surprise you.

mybook.to/MemTLP                            mybook.to/MoreTLP

Till next time, take care

Lucinda.

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

 

 

2018 LUCINDA’S BEST BOOKS PART 1

For the third year I would like to share with you the books that I have enjoyed the most in 2018.

This is the first time I joined the Goodreads challenge and optimistically filled in 100 books. I will manage that, just, and I have reviewed all but two of them. And note, this is besides some beta reading and proof editing for author friends. Yes, I love reading.

These are not the only good books I’ve read this year, but those that have stayed with me long after I’ve put them down. These are the stories that either touched my heart, entertained me, taught me things I didn’t know or caused me to weep, sit and question.

I wish I could include more but I have managed to get the list down to 16. The first 5 this week in no particular order:-

tears of innocence

TEARS OF INNOCENCE  by T R Robinson

A HEART BREAKING STORY

The introduction tells us this is a true story and it is one of the saddest I have ever read. Don’t let that put you off buying it as it demonstrates the amazing resilience of one woman who, from one trauma after another from the age of 5 managed to survive against the odds. The author lived through World War II and the horrors of that time. Every time she thinks she has found safety and shelter, life throws her another curved ball. A brilliant tribute to a brave and courageous women you cannot help but admire more than any other writer whose biography I have read. Every woman should read this book and gain strength from it. I immediately bought the second book in the trilogy. This book deserves to be up there in the bestsellers once I started reading it I was unable to put it down.  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01DUSKEYU 

eVERY NOTHERS FEAR

EVERY MOTHER’S FEAR by  Joanna Warington

GREAT STORY

Having a relative who gave birth to a child after taking Thalidomide, I was drawn to this story. It recounts the lives of two women affected in quite different ways to the effects of this insufficiently tested drug. I had already decided in my mind what path the story was going to follow, but I was so wrong. It’s a well written book, fast paced and you cared about the characters Rona and Sandra – they are excellently portrayed. I admit to being a fan of this author and will buy and read anything she writes. Highly recommended, especially if you remember living during the 1960’s, there were so many references to life at that time it brought back memories.  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B078JX8559

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ORIGIN by Dan Brown 5 stars

GREAT!

Now I know that his writing has been panned by the literati, who pronounced Dan Brown couldn’t string two sentences together, but he writes great stories – stories that make you think and stretch your brain. And remember his books were picked up for Hollywood films something most of us only dream about. I enjoyed this book the 5th in the Robert Langdon series. The research must have taken days, I learned a lot and used my kindle dictionary many times. Well written, the story was fascinating although there were no real surprises at the end.  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01LXCD7FU

 

PONTIFEX MAXIMUS

PONTIFEX MAXIMUS   by Damien North

THOROUGHLY GOOD READ

I raced through this book, it was an easy read as the words flowed beautifully and I kept going page after page. It’s not often I finish a book and then go to look for the next one to buy, but this is the second time this week it’s happened to me. Be warned, this ends on a cliff hanger and if I’d known this I would have waited until books 2 and 3 were available before starting this one. An author after my own heart who isn’t afraid to kill off his main characters just as you get to love them. I also appreciated the in-depth knowledge of the higher workings of the Catholic Church. Good book, would recommend. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M9DOBVX

THE PENCIL CASE

The Pencil Case by Lorriane Cobcroft

Much has been written about the indignities meted out to the Aborigines by the Australian authorities, but this is the first book I’m aware of that relates the injustices to white children. This a harrowing read, but I could not stop turning the pages. The book is so well written, I felt I was there with Paul and Jenny, suffering with them, feeling angry at how they were treated and routing for a happy conclusion. The writer takes you into the mind of Paul as he struggles to adjust, contain his anger and frustration as he attempts to cope with the demons who rule his life and his behaviour. The Pencil Case by Lorriane Cobcroft is one of those books which will remain with you long after you have read the last page. A sad story, beautifully told and I wish I could award it ten stars.  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00C4B9QLW

Next week the next 5 on my list.

Until then, take care

Lucinda

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.

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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.

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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

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.

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(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.

KZN 05 Silver-2

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