So, Christmas and the New Year are distant memories and the bills have arrived, work is hard, depressing, it’s freezing and dark. Getting up in the morning just seems too hard. All the enthusiasm for New Year Resolutions are fading fast and reality has set in in a really big way! Sounds familiar?Well here are some tips to beat the winter blues until the lighter nights are here again.
- Keep active. It maybe too cold to walk but try to get outside some of the time. You need the sunlight as this will instantly lift your mood. You might want to invest in a light box
- Keep warm. Now is the time to wear all those lovely Christmas jumpers, gloves and hats.
- Eat healthily with plenty of vegetables and fruit.
- Take up a new hobby. Start a course, even something online can get the creative juices going.
- See your friends and family. Now is the time to check on older relatives and it will also improve your mood.
- Talk it though with a close friend, don’t bottle up your feelings.
- Socialise, volunteer and plan for the rest of the year. You can lay the foundations now for a great year ahead! Plan a holiday, lots of events. Lighter nights will soon be here.
I recently came across some interesting points on thriller writers which I though I would share. According to James Scott Bell, any thriller can be improved by a dose of the 5’C’s. These are;
1.Complex characterisation. Everyone is a mixture of good and bad qualities. how are your main characters looking? Too wholesome, or thoroughly bad with no redeeming features? Think again.
2. Confrontations. In pitting your hero and villain against each other, it’s important for them both to have credible motivation for their actions. Explore these honestly. Some of the bad guy’s motivation may actually be quite admirable or at least understandable.
3. Careening. You may have an ending in mind but why not keep it open ended so you can write in a big twist to keep readers interested. Again, this has to be credible but it can also be exciting as a writer to change the murderer. Challenge yourself.
4. Coronary. The best thriller are so real it almost feels as though the reader is there. How do good writers achieve this? Use the sense memory that actors use to recall an emotional moment in your life and recreate the sensations smell, feel, sound, and sight that you experienced. It takes some getting used to, but the rewards when you read your work back, should be self evident. This technique can make your writing come alive.
5. Communication. What is the overall theme of your book? Is it the triumph of good over evil, is it ultimately hopeful? What will readers take away from your book, if anything? You need to think about this. For example, I always loved reading Dick Francis’s novels where his jockeys were always confronting evil and overcoming immense physical difficulties and obstacles that were utterly believable and were probably very reminiscent of his own battles with broken bones and soft tissue injuries from falls. Brilliant and exhilarating stuff !
I am going to try this in my next book, ‘Making Allowances’ which is due out in April. Hope you find this helpful.
On 1/12/17 three Irish jockeys were banned for testing positive for cocaine in random drug tests. These were Ger Fox, Danny Benson and Roger Quilan. All three were handed initial two year bans which will be reviewed subject to certain conditions like attending drug rehabilitation courses. The Irish Turf Club has vowed to stamp put drug misuse but expressed shock that three jockeys out of the eight had positive tests.
So what is behind this behaviour? Are jockeys more prone to drug misuse? Mark Costello of the Irish Field commented that the life of a jockey is subject to such highs ans lows that jockeys were trying to recreate the highs of winning by resorting to illegal drug use. A recent worrying survey also noted that 49% of Irish jockeys questioned, of 112, suffered from symptoms of depression thought to be related to the strict diet required to maintain the low weights.
I have long since been a supporter of raising the weights that jockeys can ride at, especially as the long term effects could be very serious indeed. It just reminds us of the tough life of a professional jockey and the physical and emotional demands if they turn to drugs as a coping mechanism. Cocaine would also have an effect on appetite suppression and fat storage. I would welcome others views on this.
Hope you all had a great time over the festive period and wishing you all a Happy new Year. I’m not sure about New Year’s resolutions as I usually start off well only to break them and feel annoyed with myself. anyway, here are a few suggestions for writers.
1. Measure time spent not results.
2. Get out of your comfort zone. Writing what scares you can have interesting results.
3. Get over yourself. Have a sense of humour about your great work of art!
4. Try a new genre! You never know, you might enjoy writing crime or romance instead of historical fiction.
5. Write even when you don’t want to. That novel will never finish itself if you only write when you feel the urge. Genius is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration after all.
6. Re write, rewrite and rewrite! Write something else and go back to rewrite again!
7. Start a blog! Think we’re ahead of the game on this one!
8. Listen! Interesting conversations, situations and words are all around.
Wishing you all the best for the New Year. All the best with your writing ambitions. Think big!
Over the years my friends and I have gathered a few tips to keep your equine friends healthy and happy in winter.
Use good quality rugs and make sure the leg straps are secure.
Feed good quality hay and increase when there is snow coverage that hampers grazing. However monitor their condition closely as grass can still grow at moderate temperatures. Some hardy types can gain weight easily.
Use garlic and cod liver oil to boost immunity and promote flexibility.
Check condition regularly.
Make sure water troughs are not frozen.
Make sure pipes are well insulated but keep bottles of water somewhere warmer, even in the trailer, in case of emergency.
Clean legs regularly to avoid the dreaded mud fever getting a hold. One yard I know used liquid paraffin as a barrier on horses lower legs. Another used baby oil which they swore prevented mud fever developing by creating a barrier. I thought they were joking but they swear by it.
Wear thermals and of course a hat yourself. Use hi vis equipment to keep visible when hacking.
Consider lunging to keep your horse fit when hacking is not an option.
Your riding and training programme may need to be adjusted depending on the weather but try not to stress. Lighter nights will soon be here.
Have fun and don’t forget to feed carrots and apples as treats!
Hope you and your equine friends have a Merry Christmas and a Great New Year!
I am rushing around buying Christmas presents for my horse mad family and friends and thought I had done quite well, so decided to share.
The black gilet is my favourite. It’s a Mountain Warehouse, down filled, toasty and wonderful! From Amazon RRP £79.99 Great to keep you warm on those freezing days in the yard.
A Racing Post diary £9.99 , W.H Smith. A really useful little book with loads of info including race fixtures!
A head torch. £5.99, lots of stores. This is really helpful for when you need light on those dark nights and the use of both hands. Your horses might get a bit spooked when they see it, but soon get used to it!
Then there is woolly hat complete with heat pads to keep you head warm. £5.00 . The Traditional Factory Shop
And finally Pulse by Felix Francis. £20.00 , Amazon. This looks to be a great book about an A and E doctor who is thrown into a solving the mystery of a man who died at Cheltenham racecourse. It sounds good…
Hopefully this might give some ideas to other equally useless blokes trying to buy something for their horsey nearest and dearest!
Hope it helps!
My name is Charlie De Luca. I work in higher education but was brought up on stud and racing yard. I love horses and racing but sadly grew too tall to be a jockey! I have written three racing mysteries, Rank Outsiders, The Gift Horse and Twelve in the Sixth. Myself and a co author are working on a fourth, Making Allowances which should be due out in April next year.
I love reading, writing, chatting and catching up with people from all walks of life. I hope to make your acquaintance over the coming months !