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One From The Heart – A Dream Come True!

I’ve been busy since my last blog self-publishing my debut novel The Accidental Courier. For me this is realising a lifelong ambition but even I wasn’t ready for the emotional impact when the proof copies arrived from Createspace and I held the first printed copies of my own work. Wow!

The Accidental CourierI haven’t really come down from the ceiling yet. In the first 10 days or so, I’ve sold more copies than I dared hope and, so far, the feedback has all been great with (at the time of writing) two excellent reviews on Amazon. It’s so gratifying and exciting and I can’t thank enough those of you who’ve bought a copy and taken the time to provide feedback – either via Facebook or, better still, on Amazon.

In the first couple of days my sales put me in the top 10,000 on Kindle – OK so there’s still some way to ‘best-seller’ status (I won’t be upgrading the Harley just yet) but there are over 2 million books available so that put mine in the top 0.5%!

Sooner or later, I know some cynic will try and burst my bubble with a bad review or some snide remark and I’m realistic enough to know you can’t please everyone but for now I’m flying high and I don’t ever want to come down.

If you haven’t discovered me yet and would like to give the book a try here is a link to my author page on Amazon.co.uk (I’m also available on other countries’ Amazon sites – just search for Robert Darke)

I sincerely hope it gives you as much pleasure to read as it did me to write!

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A day of Creative Writing workshops with the CRAG Writers.

CRAG WritersSaturday April 13th, 2013
The Drill Hall, Chepstow

A day of Creative Writing workshops with the CRAG Writers £10 a day ticket (£12 on the door)

Four local writer / tutors present workshops for those who’d like to try writing and those interested in taking their writing to the next level.

Your ticket covers choice of workshops morning and afternoon, coffee, tea, squash and biscuits. Bring a packed lunch or walk into Chepstow Town Centre for lunch where there are plenty of cafes and sandwich shops.

Other Features of the Day:
• A quickie writing competition, with prizes for the best entries.
• Book Stall, including novels for £3 and new books by the tutors. (Cash and cheques only.)
• Optional sessions to discuss your pre-submitted work (additional cost).

Tickets from: http://chepstowwritingday2013.eventbrite.co.uk/

The Tutors: Robert Darke, Meg Kingston, Susan Hooper, P.D.Williams

All four of the writers are qualified tutors, with experience of teaching English and/or Creative Writing. They will present a selection of lively, participative workshops on various aspects of writing stories and novels. Participants can choose between a session aimed at new writers and one for those who have some writing experience.

What we’re not

• The Workshops will focus on prose writing, not poetry, plays or factual material.
• All participants must be at least 16 years of age. Under-18s must be accompanied by a paying adult.

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Stranger Than Fiction

This blog has been triggered by two unrelated items that talk about coincidence, or are they unrelated? Maybe something spooky is going on that drew me to two articles on coincidence in one week?

The first of these occurred in a late-night repeat on BBC4 of a documentary called Tails You Win: The Science of Chance in which Professor David Spiegelhalter explains that although strange to our human mind, which is forever seeking logical explanations for things, coincidence is statistically more likely to occur than we might think, with some types of coincidence relatively common.

The second article I found in fiction editor Beth Hill’s blog where she is pretty scathing about writers resorting to coincidence, suggesting it’s a sure sign of poor plotting and can quickly lead to a reader’s suspension of disbelief.

(See links below)

Coincidences certainly do linger in the mind and demand explanation and this eery but true story happened on Christmas Day 1987 and it still disturbs me when I recall it!

In the summer of 1987, my family returned to a holiday cottage we had found the year before on the coastal path in West Wales. It is in a beautiful and remote setting and was large enough to comfortably sleep 10 of us. It fulfilled all our needs for the foreseeable future and we planned many more annual stays there. I took a photograph of the cottage in all it’s glory with the beach in the foreground and the Preselli Hills in the background and was so pleased with it that I ordered two framed, poster-sized, prints, one for myself and one for my in-laws. Now, because I own the negatives, I can be fairly confident that only two of these framed photos exist, one hanging on the wall in my home in Andover and the other over 150 miles away on my in-laws wall in Swansea, which makes them pretty exclusive.

At precisely the same moment, 3:00pm on Christmas Day 1987, both these identical photographs fell off the wall and crashed to the floor. Nobody was near them when they fell, there were no earthquakes in Britain that day and no other pictures fell in either household. Then, to add even more mystery, in the first post delivery after Christmas, my father-in-law opened a letter from the owner saying that the family were banned from the cottage because of the state in which we left it. I was one of the last to leave the cottage and can say hand-on-heart that the place was in immaculate condition when we left, we’d even hoovered the carpets! Could a poltergeist have visited after we left and trashed the place? Was that same troubled spirit responsible for our crashing photographs six months later? Can they work their mischief simultaneously while being hundreds of miles apart?

SPOOKI don’t know the answers and confess I am baffled to this day. It certainly made me wonder about the supernatural, even though I tend not to believe all that stuff. But what other explanation can there be? What are the odds of the only two existing copies of a photo falling off the wall in houses separated by well over a hundred miles on the same day, let alone at the same moment in time?

If you have an explanation, or you’ve had a similar freaky experience to share, I’d love to hear from you so please comment on this blog. Professor David Spiegelhalter, Winton Professor for the Public Understanding of Risk at the University of Cambridge, would also like you to share any strange coincidences on a website where he collects coincidences: there’s a link below.

Links
Here is Professor David Speigelhalter’s blog: http://understandinguncertainty.org
and his website for reporting coincidences: http://cambridgecoincidences.org

And here is Beth Hill’s blog: http://theeditorsblog.net/2012/01/20/coincidence-destroys-the-suspension-of-disbelief/

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Just A Perfect Day!

A star is born!

Today my youngest granddaughter celebrates her second birthday. She visited me and Mrs D with her parents and we gave her a Karaoke microphone with disco lights. She serenaded us for a while and then we all went to a local café to buy her a piece of cake and a milk-shake. Afterwards, while the rest of the family were finishing their coffees, she singled me out and led me by the hand to a nearby park to show me the pretty flowers, holding on to me tightly with her little hand in mine the whole time.

The sun was shining, the birds were singing; my days just don’t get more perfect than this.

It’s wonderful being a grandfather!