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.

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 Look Behind the Books, A New Christian Inspirational Trilogy, Catholic, Christian inspirational Fiction, Riding Out the Wreckage

Can Jordan Peterson Be a Good Example to Catholics? Bishop Barron Helps Me Decide

12 Rules Cover

The positive effect Dr. Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos are having on the youth of today, especially young men, is undeniable. Though a big fan of his, I was still concerned that his views may be at odds with Catholic teaching.

I am currently writing the third book in The Father Michael Trilogy and looking for a realistic way to bring hope to Joe Harper and those who suffer like him with ulcerative colitis or other IBDs.

Joe comes from a Catholic family, so is Dr. Peterson a good spiritual father for him?

 

Peterson Portrait Photo
Photo By Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=70242230

Dr. Peterson Attacks Nihilism

Life is difficult and Dr. Peterson doesn’t sugarcoat the fact.  His is not a ‘feel-good’ book, which makes a refreshing change.

But he stresses that throwing our hands up in despair is irresponsible and the easy way out. ‘Everything is horrible, there’s nothing I can (want) to do about it, so what is the point of existence? I’ll just feel sorry for myself and make everyone else around me more miserable, too.’

Instead Dr. Peterson urges us to stand up and voluntarily accept ‘the burden of Being’ and ‘the terrible responsibility of life, with eyes wide open.’ ‘There is evil to overcome, suffering to ameliorate, and yourself to better.’ We must make whatever sacrifices are needed in order to ‘generate a productive and meaningful reality (it means acting to please God, in the ancient language.)’

Christ ‘outlines … the proper aim of mankind’ in the Sermon on the Mount. We must ‘aim at the highest good’ which puts us on a heavenward trajectory and ‘makes (us) hopeful.’

The psychologist urges us not to make the world a worse place but a better place. Either we are advancing the world towards Hell or towards Heaven. Which do we want to inhabit?

He points to history, warning us of the extremes to which people will go when they don’t take on the burden for improving life but instead seek scapegoats for their unhappiness. They become bitter, resentful, vengeful and ultimately murderous. He reminds us of the excesses of Hitler, Stalin, and the Communist Party in China and Russia in the 20th Century. Extreme right and extreme left ideologies are equally dangerous.

In Our Lord’s prayer we ask that “Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven” and Dr. Peterson states clearly, ‘To place the alleviation of unnecessary pain and suffering at the pinnacle of your hierarchy of value is to work to bring about the Kingdom of God on Earth.’ This viewpoint does not conflict with Catholicism or Christianity in general.

He tells us to meet suffering head on and be heroes – a great message for the lost young men of today. What a worthy challenge! Be the hero who reduces the suffering of others.

That is, after all, is Who Christ was.

Peterson Portrait Lecturing
Photo by Adam Jacobs – Peterson Lecture, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=57264962

Renewing Interest in the Bible

Dr. Peterson explains why the Bible is profoundly meaningful and, as Bishop Barron says in his podcast The Word on Fire Show WOF117: Who Is Jordan Peterson?  is ‘uncovering a dimension of these texts which is very life-giving and illuminating.’

He says that the clinical psychologist has brought to light once more why Scripture matters and is ‘recovering the power of those texts’. They are not dead myths, which prominent atheists would have us believe, otherwise they couldn’t have lasted so long and had such influence.

As a direct result of Dr. Peterson’s work, it has become ‘cool’ to read the Bible. I found two very encouraging comments posted on Bishop Robert Barron’s podcast on Dr. Peterson:

“Jordan Peterson and Bishop Barron are the two biggest reasons why I’m getting confirmed Catholic tomorrow 😀. God bless you both”

“…I was a cradle catholic and left the church when I was 18….I went to my first confession in 20 years last month and have gone to every service since Ash Wednesday thanks to Dr Peterson’s work. I’ve even picked up the Bible.. it is like a switch has been flipped.”

What a resounding endorsement!

Bishop Barron states that Dr. Peterson believes deeply in the texts of the Bible and is spreading the message that faith in them is a matter of life and death. This is most definitely the Christian viewpoint!

Where Peterson’s Views Diverge from Catholicism

 

Bishop Barron
Bishop Robert Barron
By Frank Licorice [CC BY-SA 2.0  (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
On the topic of whether Dr. Peterson’s views are Christian, Bishop Barron is scrupulously fair. He stresses that the author doesn’t claim to be a Christian theologian nor a Christian – he’s looking at the Bible from a purely psychological viewpoint.

 

Dr. Peterson is an avid follower of Jung, who said that the first great psychologists were the early Church Fathers. Yet in his video Bishop Barron on the Jordan Peterson Phenomenon  the bishop cautions that the psychologist’s ideas verge on Gnosticism – the idea that only a few cognoscenti can know Christianity. Wikipedia describes one of the Gnostic core teachings as ‘To achieve salvation, one needs to get in touch with secret knowledge.’

Bishop Barron’s other concern with Gnostics is that they tend to ‘bracket the historical references in these biblical texts,’ thereby ignoring the reality of events in the Bible. The bishop reminds us that, rather than being philosophical or psychological, ‘Christianity is stubbornly historical.’ It matters that God really did become man, that He really did rise from the dead. Those are historical facts.

Christ is not an archetype, as Dr. Peterson describes Him – He is not a myth. The ‘myth’ of Christ is firmly grounded in history.

Myths are not rooted in a specific time or place: they happened ‘once upon a time’ and ‘in a faraway galaxy.’ Jesus Christ was ‘crucified under Pontius Pilate.’ We know who Pilate was, where he lived and when. The New Testament may contain mythical elements but is also historical: the Church stubbornly insists on that.

Bishop Barron says the problem with liberal theology is that it sees God ‘as the deep background music of life.’ Biblical theology says that God ‘is a Person who acts in history and has purposes and it is the primacy of God’s Grace that breaks into my life and changes me.’

Bishop Barron endorses Dr. Peterson’s book but cautions us against the Gnostic tendencies in it.

Is Dr. Peterson a Christian?

He makes frequent statements that suggest a belief in God. For example, ‘you have a spark of the divine in you, which belongs not to you, but to God.’ Yet when asked in interviews he declines to come down on one side or the other.

About the Resurrection, he says that the literal (historical) and metaphysical (archetypal) sometimes touch – and that is a miracle. He is not excluding the possibility that the Resurrection truly happened. He is simply unsure about its historical truth and needs another three years to go into it.

Bishop Barron has no problem with that. He suggests we look at St. Paul, who after his encounter with the Risen Christ went to Arabia for three years to sort himself out before coming back to preach the Gospel.  Dr. Peterson is in good company.

 

The bishop regards Dr. Peterson as a spiritual father for young men, whom the psychologist says are starving for direction. Spiritual masters who give spiritual instruction are what they need, according to Bishop Barron, who adds that priests would do well to talk in the same manner as the author of the 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos.

Therefore I feel confident that Dr. Jordan Peterson will be a good influence on Joe. He will encourage the teenager to read the Bible. He will urge him to overcome his suffering by being the hero who takes responsibility for his actions and makes the world a better place.

Using him as a spiritual adviser to Joe is not a bad place to start.

Where do you stand on Dr. Jordan Peterson? Let me know in the comments – I’d love to hear from you!

Resources:

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos

The Word on Fire Show WOF117: Who Is Jordan Peterson?

Bishop Barron on the Jordan Peterson Phenomenon

 

 

A Father Michael Book, A Look Behind the Books, Christian inspirational Fiction, Gabe the rescue horse, rescue horse update, Riding Out the Wreckage, Uncategorized

Update on Gabriel

Here are a couple of photos of Gabriel, aka Little Gabe, after arriving in his new home:

At new home 2

Being welcomed by the daughter of the family who has adopted him.

At new home 1

Checking out his new BFF next door.

 

Meanwhile, back in my writer’s seat:

I’ve FINALLY finished the outline of “Riding Out the Wreckage” and can now start writing!

The process is somewhat hampered by the fact that my husband and I are in the middle of selling our house in Maryland and moving farther south. He wants Sarasota, Florida, yours truly would like to compromise by finding a house in Hilton Head, South Carolina.

While we duke it out we’ll be  staying with my mother-in-law in Sarasota.

Before that my gelding, Cruz Bay will get his first full clip EVER in the whole of his 18 years. It will help him handle the heat once he steps off the truck at his new – and hopefully, temporary – boarding barn nearby.

He leaves for his two day trip, with overnight stay along the way, on Monday, 2nd April. I will fly down the next day to meet him but have to fly back out the next morning to finish getting the house emptied and ready for our closing on Friday, 6th April.

It is going to be very hard to leave my friends of 12 years and I’m not looking forward to it.

Writing “Wreckage” will become my refuge in those dark moments when I feel lost. My next post will probably be written in Florida. I’ll send photos of white egrets, alligators and other exotic fauna!

I leave you with the proforma cover of the last book of The Father Michael Trilogy.

Wreckage Book Cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!