Are you depressed and male? Read on…


The recent death by suicide of racehorse trainer, Richard Woollacott, brings into sharp focus the issue of mental health and men. Richard was a well known and successful trainer He died aged just 40. His wife launched an emotional appeal  stating that ‘suicide  is the biggest cause of death of men aged 18-45. We must DO more.’  Kayley has started an on line appeal page. She said,’ I’ve lost my husband, best friend and father of our child. It’s too late for us but it’s not too later to speak out and do more to help others from becoming lost.’

Richard had suffered with mental health problems for some time. In my work.

I come across young men who need help. We have lost students and the effect on their families and friends is devastating.  What can we do?  Try to break down the stereotypes. Beliefs such as, boys don’t cry, can be very dangerous.

Mothers, teach your sons to speak openly about their feelings, sisters and girlfriends, talk to your brothers and boyfriends. Wives, talk to your husbands. Talking and listening is crucial so take the time to look after your nearest and dearest. If you’re concerned about some one then log on to MIND or encourage them to ring Samaritans on  freephone 08457 90 90 90

I hope this helps raise awareness of this worrying issue.


Inspiration for writers!


Here are some inspiring ideas for  writers who are are stuck.  We all fear the blank page, when your creativity dries up.  Every now and again, half way through a novel, at the start or the end, we suddenly can’t think  of any ideas on how to proceed. Here are some ideas which might help.

Read real life stories. There is plenty of inspiration in newspapers, crime sections, books, even family folk lore. Truth is stranger than fiction and some of events that really happen would beggar belief.  I have a friend who is a social worker and some of the stories she tells are totally incredible but absolutely true. I keep  telling her to write them down!

Put your book or story away for a few weeks and think about something completely different. Sometimes just this one simple step can really help as your  subconscious takes over and solutions pop into your head.

Why not try to draw or paint your characters or the place where your story is set.  If place is a crucial factor in your book, this can be really helpful. It doesn’t matter if your attempts are woeful, nobody’s looking and immersing yourself in your characters can be really helpful.

I know some writers who keep a detailed scrap book for each of their novels and fill it with drawings, idea, notes, photos, leaflets anything that might be relevant. This could really unlock your creativity. One word of warning though, don’t get so into the book that you stop writing your novel. This has happened, believe it or not.

Talk to trusted friends. One of my mates is a mechanic, he can fix anything, understands how things works, can use lock picks and one even opened a filing cabinet with a paperclip just for fun when I was stuck at work. He locked them just as easily and no one was any the wiser. He is also a whizz at computers and is able to tell me what is possible physically, how he would fix things, what you would need to invent practically anything. The guy is a genius but also an inspiration. I run anything technical past him first.

Try using different tools to write. If you type, continue in longhand, or use voice recognition software and dictate your book for a while.  This can be great especially for your dialogue and using a different method could really help you overcome your block. Even consider using story boards as visual tools can really help.

What methods do you use to help inspire you?



Beating the winter blues!



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.


Advice for thriller writers.


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.


Three Irish jockeys banned for cocaine use


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!



Horse care tips for winter!


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!


Last minutes Christmas present ideas for horse owners!


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!



Welcome to my blog!


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 !

Happy blogging!