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A Look Behind the Books, A New Sinclair Island Romance, Christian fiction, Christian romance, Equestrian fiction, Podcasts, Romance, Uplifting Fiction, Women's Contemporary Romance

Friday’s Folly: A Look Behind the New Sinclair Island Romance: Podcast Notes

To listen to the podcast, please click here

Hello, and welcome to the Faith through Horse Fiction Podcast. I’m Hilary Walker, horse owner and writer of Christian fiction, aspiring to spread God’s word in an entertaining way in my novels.

Today I’d like to share insights with you about ‘Friday’s Folly,’ the upcoming third novel in the Sinclair Island Romance series which will be officially released on July 29th .

If you’re interested in receiving an advance review copy of the book, please shoot me an email at Rubesca4@gmail.com. I’d be happy to send you one.

So, what’s the book about?

Max is desperate to get off Sinclair Island and away from his dead-end bookstore job. When he meets Camille, who loves the island, he knows he has to keep his emotional distance. Otherwise he can kiss goodbye to any hopes of starting a new life on the mainland.

Camille has rescued a racehorse, Friday’s Folly, and Max helps her retrain him. While he is immediately aware of his feelings for her, she’s much slower to realize just how strongly she feels about him.

Hanging over their relationship is the constant threat of Max leaving, and his irreverent attitude towards God.

Will Camille be able to change his mind – about both?

The Idea for the Book Came from …

An experience I had checking out an OTTB aka Off Track Thoroughbred. My horse Cruz Bay and I were going through a terrible phase. He’d reared and dumped me at a major dressage show and it seemed we were not destined to get on.

Looking for his replacement, I went to see a beautiful little Thoroughbred mare in Pennsylvania and was shocked at the conditions in the racing barn where she lived.

After I got home, I was consumed by the need to get her out of there. The way Camille comes to acquire Friday’s Folly is identical to the logic I used to persuade the bay mare’s owner to let me take her away.

(You can read the full account in the short story “How Not to Rescue a Racehorse.”)

I took her to Kimberly Godwin Clark’s farm near where I lived at the time. She is the lady who wrote the brilliant book “New Track, New Life,” that Camille uses as her guide when retraining Friday’s Folly. I knew she’d do a fantastic job with the mare, whom she renamed Class, and she didn’t disappoint. I later received a wonderful email from her new owner saying how thrilled she was with her new horse. A happy ending for the ex-racer.

In the meantime, I realized that Cruz Bay and I are meant for each other, and we’re still together as he turns twenty this year. 😊

What Part Do the Horses Play in this Book?

Horses are integral to the overall plot and provide the opportunity for the Christian heroine to broach the subject of God to the non-Christian hero.

Max’s black gelding, Winston, is the means by which he and Camille first meet. Later on, the horse is the reason for Max spending a great deal of time with her, and having lively debates about science and religion.

Camille works hard trying to overcome Max’s cynical attitude to God, and Winston inadvertently assists her arguments.

Her own horse, Friday’s Folly is a project that brings them together. But he also becomes the cause of friction between them.

Then both their geldings are suddenly in grave danger and the pair have their work cut out for them!

Soon afterwards some other horses require even more urgent help – from Max and his father, whom he wants to get away from.

You can see that the horses are vital to the novel.

Does the Book Have a Christian Message?

Max believes that science explains everything, leaving no room for God. Camille challenges his arguments against a Creator in a logical and hard-to-refute way.

I hope she encourages any non-Christian readers to check out the book she uses to back up her reasoning, and that believers find a useful source for countering the typical viewpoint of today, that science and Christianity are at odds, if not downright war, with each other.

The book I refer to is ‘Gunning for God: Why the New Atheists Are Missing the Target,’ by John C Lennox, a brilliant Oxford mathematician and committed Christian. Another book of his well worth reading on the topic is ‘Can Science Explain Everything?’

Are the Characters Based on Real People?

No. I never model them on any specific person, but I do take characteristics from different individuals and use them in my fictional world.

However, the names I use are often those of very dear friends, even though the character who carries it is nothing like them. Otherwise, I scour baby names online.

When it comes to the horses, I often have a certain animal in mind when I create them. It’s a fun way of immortalizing the equines I’ve owned in my life, but I use fictitious names.

I tried for days to come up with a good name for Camille’s title Thoroughbred – you only have to look at my notebook to appreciate the mental effort and anguish that went into it! Then, as has happened with all the romances, the name came to me when I wasn’t searching for it and has no connection to any of my copious scribblings.

Do We Revisit Any of Previous Characters?

Sinclair Island is only 7 miles square with one riding barn, so you’ll meet all the main characters from the earlier books, including ‘Ivan’s Choice,’ as it turns out that Bryce McCloud is closely connected to Max.

Emma and Fulton, Dinny and Grant, Bryce and Pippa – they all play major roles in ‘Friday’s Folly.’

How Long Did ‘Friday’s Folly’ Take to Write?

As soon as I published ‘Dinny’s Challenge,’ I parked my rear end in its writing position and proceeded to map out the next sequel.

Most authors, I suspect, will tell you that the best way to stop worrying about the reception of your current novel is to dive straight into another one.

This third Sinclair Island Romance will be out exactly five months after ‘Dinny’s Challenge.’ I usually write faster, but had a lot of trouble with the first chapter of ‘Friday’s Folly:’ I didn’t know where to start the book and wrote it out at least three times.

I’m now working on the fourth novel in the series and am a long way through mapping out the plot.

For the curious, the heroine is an atheist this time!

What’s My Writing Process?

I have a dear author friend who can create a detailed synopsis in her head (I wish I had that talent!). The problem is, once she knows how the book ends, she’s no longer interested in writing it.

Apparently, Stephen King has some scathing words about writers who plan their novels in great detail. In which case, he’d highly disapprove of my method.

While I’m willing to go in a new direction if a main character absolutely insists on it – you’d be surprised what bullies these fictional personalities can be! – I am most definitely a plotter’ rather than a ‘pantser,’ someone who flies by the seat of their trousers, as we would call them in England.

Did I Know the Ending Before I Began Plotting?

I usually have no idea exactly how the book will end when I start out on the planning journey. Obviously, it has to be a HEA, or Happily Ever After, or people will want their money back, but I only figure out what form that takes when I’ve arrived at the point where the hero and heroine have to get together or I scrap the book.

Was Anyone Else Involved in Creating the Book?

Friday’s Folly became a fun collaboration when I asked both my subscribers and my Facebook friends to help me find the name of the bookstore on Sinclair Island. It was heartwarming to receive so many wonderful ideas!

The same happened with the tagline: I got many great suggestions and I’ve noted them all for use in creating the banners for ‘Friday’s Folly.’

My Facebook pals also helped with the book’s title. I was torn between “Friday’s Folly” and “Annie’s Folly” until one person pointed out that “Annie’s Folly” made the heroine sound rather silly. Case closed.

(In case you’re wondering, the heroine’s name was originally Annie, then a friend complained that I have too many characters’ names ending in the ‘ie’ sound.)

Together with a few dedicated friends, I have a fantastic group of Launch Team members among my subscribers, who read Advance Review Copies of my books and post very generous reviews online. Their help has made each of the novels in the series an Amazon best seller.

I am also blessed to have my other subscribers, who are incredibly supportive of my writing and have contributed heavily to my success as a writer.

I hope you’ve enjoyed looking behind the scenes of ‘Friday’s Folly,’ the next Sinclair Island Romance novel.

Look out for it on 29th July! It will be available in all the major ebook outlets, including, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and iBooks.

Don’t forget to email me at Rubesca4@gmail.com if you’d like an ARC! Everyone who posts a positive review will be included in the acknowledgements of the final version.

The Jack Harper Trilogy

The Jack Harper Trilogy Is a #1 Best Seller!

Since so many of us are stuck at home ‘sheltering in place’ I decided to put the first three books of my Riding Out series into a boxed set and only charge 99 cents. I figured most people would feel that’s a good price for 474 pages of (hopefully) uplifting Christian fiction!

The story of a man who is in more need of healing than the wounded horses he rehabilitates

I let my subscribers know about it and was amazed at their positive response. The book sold a ton of copies straight away. Thank you all so much!

A dear author friend, Autumn Macarthur, let her huge fan base know about it the next day. They bought loads of copies, too and I am so appreciative!

The timing was perfect: as Autumn said, ‘it was a God thing.’ 🙂 As a result, The Jack Harper Trilogy is a #1 Best Seller on Amazon and I’m going to enjoy its exalted status however briefly it lasts. 😉 Thank you, Lord!

I want to give a shout-out to Autumn for being such a staunch supporter of my books and continually boosting my career. She is a kind and generous fellow Christian and I owe her a huge debt.

Autumn is a USA Today best selling author and you can find details of all her must-read Christian romances at https://faithhopeandheartwarming.com/. I do hope you’ll visit her site!

The Jack Harper Trilogy is available in other ebook stores, too, including:

Barnes & Noble https://bit.ly/2Vdn1SG

Kobo https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-jack-harper-trilogy

Apple https://books.apple.com/us/book/id1506599413

A New Sinclair Island Romance, Christian fiction, Christian inspirational Fiction, Contemporary Christian Fiction, Second Chance Romance, Transformational Christian Fiction, Women's Contemporary Romance

“Dinny’s Challenge” becomes a #1 Best Seller!

As a Christian author, I thank God for each gift of success.

“Dinny’s Challenge” became a #1 Best Seller for a glorious while and I knew took screen shots of its exalted status immediately!

Creating the book was an interesting exercise in humility, as you can see from my post, “Dinny’s Challenge:” A Fresh Start. It taught me not to take criticism personally, but to see it as a helpful aid to improvement.

My critiquing circle’s good judgment made the book successful, and I am eternally grateful to them.

Readers tell me my books bring back happy horse memories from their childhood, and one was even encouraged to get on a horse again, after reading about the equine adventures of my heroes and heroines!

Such feedback is enormously rewarding and encourages me to continue writing.

I’m now working on “Friday’s Folly,” Book 3 in The Sinclair Island Romance series.

P.S. If you would like to join my Launch Team and receive Advance Review Copies (ARCs) of my new books, please comment below. I’d love to welcome you aboard!

A Look Behind the Books, Uncategorized

A Look Behind the Books

 

Hi there! Here is where I’ll be sharing what prompts me to create the individuals in my books and the stories that unfold in their lives.

There will also be interviews with the characters. If you want to know more about anyone in particular or have questions you’d like me to ask them, please get in touch by filling out the short form on the About//Contact page.

I look forward to hearing from you and hope you enjoy these posts!

A Look Behind the Books, Brittle Diamonds: A Christian Mystery Novel, Catholic, Christian fiction, Church scandal, Contemporary Christian Fiction

Brittle Diamonds: the Book, the Podcast & a Look Behind the Scenes

For the chapter by chapter podcast click HERE

The idea of recording a podcast has intrigued me for some time.

Many authors record their books, and since ‘Brittle Diamonds’ is set in England, with very English characters, and I’m a very English character, I decided to go for it!

The set-up is not sophisticated: I’m uploading each chapter to my website for download by anyone who wishes to listen to it. A new chapter will be added every day.

You can find the podcast here: Brittle Diamonds Podcast

In the meantime, I’ll enjoy revisiting the residents of Brotherton and experiencing the dramatic events that unfold in that usually quiet part of the West Country.

Villagers Dodo and Bob Olding

Two characters in the book, Dodo and Bob, are very dear to me and based on a real couple who used to live down the lane from our house in Gloucestershire. Like us, they owned horses, and the woods running behind our two properties belonged to them.

My husband and I would ride through the forest and up the hill to their house, where the real Dodo and Bob would urge us to put our steeds in their stables while we had a ‘little something to drink’ together.

The real “Dodo” looking elegant as always, while enjoying a little drink

We loved sitting outside in their quintessentially English garden, looking over the fields and watching the geese and chickens wander in and out of the kitchen, chased by a lively Shi Tzu.

Bob and Dodo always poultry wandering about the property

Then my husband and I would get back on our horses and ride home, glowing with bonhomie, before it got too dark to see where we were going.

Bob and Dodo introduced us to the Queen’s cousin and his wife, who lived one door down in a large house with an active ghost. They invited us to cocktails and subsequently to dinner, where my American husband kissed the Princess on the cheek. There was no way I was going to kiss the Prince: he would have been horrified!

Dodo was even more colorful than I have portrayed her in the book. She used to make the most outrageous comments. She and Bob could never agree on the details of any story, and you’d better have eaten before you went to their house, as she usually burnt the food.

But she was a generous and loving soul, and when she passed away from a heart attack, sitting in her chair in the garden, Bob was grief-stricken. He held it together for four years before taking his own life on the anniversary of her death.

As a Catholic, I had no peace because he’d committed suicide, a mortal sin. I worried about Bob’s soul and confided in my parish priest. He told me that God would have understood the condition of my friend’s mind and for me not to be anxious, but to pray for him. This I still do.

I miss them both. Bob got to read Brittle Diamonds before he died, and thoroughly enjoyed my portrayal of him and Dodo. I am so very glad of it.

Painswick Church, a few miles from where I used to live in Lypiatt. The grounds contain 99 yew trees. Whenever they try to plant the 100th, it dies for some mysterious reason.

Why I Wrote the Book

After more than twenty years away from the Catholic Church, I finally returned to the fold.

There are many reasons why, but the catalyst was the birth of my son, although it still took me several years after that to commit fully to my faith.

When our little family moved to the States from England, I was thrilled to discover that Catholics weren’t in the minority as they are in the United Kingdom. I suddenly belonged to a huge community!

My local parish priest was a very charismatic man, whose sermons were both entertaining and educational. We all loved him.

Then came that fatal day when he told us he was under investigation for sexual abuse of seminarians, allegedly perpetrated some thirty years before.

We were all horrified that anyone could make such an accusation against our wonderful pastor, and were confident he would be swiftly exonerated and back in the pulpit.

Sadly, this was not to be the case.

My sorrow at discovering my Catholic leader was not above reproach led me to write this book.

The novel handles several other difficult issues in addition to the priest scandal, which was raging then and sadly still is. It will be a long time before the Catholic Church recovers, but recover she will.

The sermon in Chapter 17 is poached from a real sermon preached at the time of our priest’s disgrace.

I ask you to have patience with my attempts at various British accents and do hope you enjoy this audio version of the book! 🙂

Ebook available for $0.99 at: Amazon B&N Kobo iBooks

Paperback available for $9.50 at Amazon B&N

A New Sinclair Island Romance

Dinny’s Challenge: The First Three Chapters

‘Dinny’s Challenge’ will be ready to launch at the end of February but you can take a sneak peek at the first three chapters!

Dinny’s Challenge – the first three chapters

I hope you enjoy reading them.

See you on launch day!

WHAT’S THE BOOK ABOUT?

Running into her former fiancé forces Dinny to face her cowardice towards him decades earlier.

Dinny gave Grant back his ring and married the man who was accusing him of fraud.

Now widowed, she attends a wedding on Sinclair Island and unexpectedly runs into her ex-fiancé – three decades after he moved away.

Dinny’s beloved mare is about to go blind and Grant meets with her to suggest an unorthodox solution for saving the horse’s sight. But his girlfriend becomes determined to keep the once engaged couple apart and extracts a promise from Dinny not to interfere in her relationship with him.

Dinny realizes she’s falling in love with Grant again. Problem is, he’s a crook and her deceased husband’s arch-enemy. And she’s given her word to stay away from him.

Grant never stopped loving her, and a nearly fatal incident with a horse gives him the unexpected opportunity to clear his name.

When Dinny discovers the real criminal’s identity, she is faced with the sordid truth that her marriage was based on a lie.

Can Grant forgive her for believing the wrong man? Can she forgive herself – or her late husband?

Under pressure from Grant, she admits her true feelings, she then tells him that she mustn’t give into them. Angry and disappointed, he walks out on her.

Soon afterwards, he risks his life to save his girlfriend and Dinny knows she’s truly lost him.

Her life will be unbearable without him and she has to get him back.

But how?

Here’s that link again:

Dinny’s Challenge – the first three chapters

Over 50s Romance Fiction, Second Chance Romance, Women's Contemporary Romance

“Dinny’s Challenge”: a Fresh Start

It’s been interesting to discover that an author friend of mine, who is way more successful than me, is having the same trouble with her current novel as I am. We both suffer from a difficulty to move on from the hero in our previous book to the next one.

Grant didn’t own a horse in the first version. He’s quite a bit older than Fulton in ‘Saving Prophecy’ and his only sport was golf. I hadn’t realized how boring he was until I decided to make him the owner of a beautiful grey gelding. After all, the horses make the book, don’t they?

Dinny’s Challenge is proving a real challenge!

That immediately gave him a snazzier car, an interesting extra hobby, and he is also a member of the volunteer emergency services on the island. I shan’t say which one, but no, he’s not a fireman.

Which brought me to Dinny, who needed spicing up, too. She was under her husband’s thumb for many years, but broke out of her shell after his death. I wasn’t conveying that, apart from having her fulfill her lifelong dream of buying a horse. Now she’s up to all sorts of things, and I’m having a hard time keeping up with her!

Wish me luck as I follow the tricky romance between the two of them.

A New Sinclair Island Romance

The Launch Date for “Dinny’s Challenge” Is Approaching!

Here’s the final cover!

My beta readers are currently running their eagle eyes over the novel and giving me valuable input. After that I shall be sending out ARCs (Advanced Review Copies) to my wonderful Launch Team for their feedback.

All being well, the book will be ready to launch by the end of November.

What’s the book about?

Twenty-nine years ago, Dinny was swept off her feet by the man accusing her fiancé of financial fraud.

When Grant loses the woman of his dreams to his boss, he moves away for good.

Now a widow, Dinny attends a wedding on Sinclair Island, where a chance meeting with Grant rekindles powerful emotions.

He’s never found a woman to replace Dinny in his heart. But when he hints that he was framed by her husband, she feels disloyal for spending time with him.

Yet if Grant is telling the truth, her whole marriage was a sham and she can’t handle that.

When Grant has a riding accident, Dinny realizes she’s still in love with him. But giving into her feelings means facing the sordid facts about her deceased husband. Is she ready for that?

Grant finally convinces her of what really happened and she prepares to move onto the island to be with him.

But then he confesses a secret that sends her reeling. Sensing her love for him is not strong enough to accept the truth yet again, he walks out.

Life for Dinny will be unbearable without Grant. She has to get him back!

But how? Is it too late to salvage their relationship?

When I have the final launch date I shall let you know.

Christian romance, Contemporary Christian Fiction, Equestrian fiction, Over 50s Romance Fiction, Second Chance Romance, Uplifting Fiction

Writing the New Sinclair Island Romance

Dinny’s Challenge

The second book in the Sinclair Island Romance series is underway!

Mock-Up Cover of Dinny's Challenge
This is not the final cover – but a grey horse is involved in the story!

This time my hero and heroine are in their 50s.

As has frequently been pointed out, romance novels tend to focus on the young, as if love were somehow the exclusive province of those who haven’t yet reached middle age.

Happily there is a growing fiction genre that embraces the romantic adventures of older persons, and I’m pleased to add my body of work to it. 🙂

Unlike my previous two novels, the title character in ‘Dinny’s Challenge’ is not the horse but the heroine. But don’t worry – equines still feature big time!

Another departure from my usual format is that the novel is written from two points of view – the POV of the hero and that of the heroine.

Dinny Dumont has been widowed for four years at the opening of the book and is about to have her decades long beliefs challenged.

The cause of this upheaval is an act of cowardice she committed thirty-four years ago which is now coming home to roost.

She’s invited to attend the wedding of her friend Emma to the handsome Fulton on Sinclair Island, little knowing that she’s about to run into the man she wronged …

Needless to say, sparks fly and emotions are high!

But I must  get back to the manuscript and figure out how the story ends. 😉

I’ll talk to you again soon.

God bless,

Hilary

 

 

 

 

Uncategorized

Saving Prophecy

Over the past few weeks I’ve been busy writing a romance novel inspired by a recent trip to Daufuskie Island with a friend who was giving a riding clinic at Haig Point Stables.

Two things struck me during my visit.

One was the peaceful atmosphere: the only permissible vehicles on the plantation are golf carts.

The other was that two ladies at the barn had met their Mr. Right on the small island. What were the odds? I wondered.

My writer’s brain shot into overdrive and on my return to the mainland – read Hilton Head Island 😉 – I began scribbling down a story woven around events on fictitious Sinclair Island.

My little isle has cars on it – I couldn’t quite wrap my head around a romance conducted in golf carts! Maybe in a later book.

The result is ‘Saving Prophecy,’ and the novel is going through its final edits before I announce a publishing date. I thought it was going to be a standalone book, but the plots for a second and third one wouldn’t leave me alone so I’ve already outlined them both.

‘Saving Prophecy’ will now be the first of the Sinclair Island Romance Series.

The first draft of Laura Harper’s first trilogy book is complete, and I shall resume edits as soon as I am certain of where the next two novels in the series are headed. Writing romance has been a fun interlude which is helping to keep things fresh when I go back to the Harper family.

Today I am revealing the cover, and as the launch date draws closer, I shall disclose a few details about the plot!

Correct riding, Dressage, Horse riding, Horseback riding, Horses, Riding dressage, Riding horses

A Glimpse into my Horse World

Cruz Bay looking alert and ready for work!

During the first two weeks of May, my German friend and erstwhile riding instructor came for a visit to Hilton Head Island from her native Frankfurt.

It was her first time here, so we did a lot of sightseeing. But she was very interested in helping with my riding and I was thrilled to receive the much-needed training!

Cruz and I are like a long-time married couple: we’ve adapted to each other without realizing it. As a result, I’ve got used to his crookedness and he’s learned to cope with mine.

Enter Ingrid.

When your horse doesn’t give to the left, the temptation is to bend him even farther left. But that just puts him off balance and makes him move yet more crookedly.

You can see how Cruz resists giving to the left: Ingrid worked with me on straightening him first and driving him forward, so he could give equally on both sides.

Ingrid had me let go of my stranglehold on the left rein and concentrate on driving Cruz forwards in a straight line. In any case, I should only see his inner eyelash when he’s bent to the left, not his entire neck!

Here’s a link to the video of us cantering between markers to the left – our worse side. You can see his haunches swing out to the right until I improve my leg position.

CLICK ‘WATCH ON FACEBOOK’ IN THE BLACK BOX TO VIEW.

In this video I’m cantering to the right. This used to be my ‘bad’ side, but somehow we’ve switched over!

AGAIN, CLICK ON ‘WATCH ON FACEBOOK’ IN THE BLACK BOX TO SEE THE VIDEO.

In addition to creating forward impulsion, I was to make sure I could always see the top muscle in his arched neck, to denote that he was using himself correctly and enable him to carry me better.

He didn’t have to be ‘reeled in’ to achieve this: I could do it on a longer rein, too, allowing him to stretch into my contact. As a result, she assured me, he would not be so tired nor ache so much from using the wrong muscles.

So I’ve taken a photo of his neck and will get another shot of it in two months’ time. Hopefully the before and after pictures will show a significant increase in his upper neck muscle and a huge decrease in his lower neck muscle. (I’m too embarrassed to let you see the before photo right now!)

If all goes according to plan, I’ll post them both!

Next week my great friend Maggie McGuire, of https://maggiemcguiredressage.com/ is coming to give a clinic next and I hope to post some great photos and videos from that.