Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly – International Book & Bookselling News, Reviews, Bestsellers – is a website that acts as a news room for the publishing industry. Visitors to the site can see what’s happening, where it’s happening and to whom. I’ve seen articles about new publishers looking for submissions, indie authors cracking into mainstream publishing and the latest reviews on all types of books. There are also author interviews, helpful tips and the latest deals.

Resource Central Directory

As a writer I’m always looking for new resources, so when I came across this website I had to share it here.  The website is called Resource Central Directory – World Resources for All – Study, Learn, & Research.

This site is jam-packed with links to reference sites on a large variety of subjects; including coin collecting, volcanoes, pollution, crop circles, pyramids, astronomy, comets, ships, the railway, mythology, bee keeping, knot tying, sky diving and much more.

Book Review: Forget Me Not

Forget Me Not

Forget Me Not by Isabel Wolff

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I chose this book to read for two reasons: 1) I had three days of train travel left for the year and wanted to be sure to finish whichever book I started (because I knew I wouldn’t do any reading over the holidays), and, 2) I wanted to read something light and fun. Before I go any further, I will admit that I’m not a big chic fic fan.

Having made that admission, I honestly did enjoy “Forget Me Not”. It was a bit predictable, but it did speak to the heart regarding relationships and the decisions we make in life and I liked that. The story was well written and easy to read. The characters were complex and likeable. And, of course, there was the required “everyone lived happily ever after” ending, which was perfect for this time of year.

Chic fic doesn’t have the fast pace and loads of action to fall back on, so the story relies on characters that can be related to. I guessed the outcome for many of the characters early on, but I didn’t mind reading on because of the natural flow of the words. I do remember thinking how difficult such a book must be to write, because of the lack of fast paced action, yet the author did extremely well.

My complaint about this book was the in-depth descriptions about gardening, about how certain flowers can reflect a person’s personality and about seeing a “space” through a landscaper’s eye. I found that side of the book boring, to be honest. I skipped over some of the long paragraphs that went on a bit too long for my liking.

However, taking that small thing out of the equation, I enjoyed the experience and would recommend the book to anyone wanting a peaceful, easy read that makes you feel good when you put the book down. Sometimes we all need that feeling.

Now for a second admission, as a reader I don’t particularly want to read chic fic but as a person I love the concept of the “feel good” novel (or movie). I believe that my early writings ran parallel to this type of story – you know, boy meets girl, they fall in love but won’t admit it, there’s a huge complication, things look bad for a while, but then they overcome the complication and a romantic “I love you” scene ends the story.

I’m a romantic at heart. I’m also old-fashioned in a lot of ways. I believe men should treat their women as precious gems. They should open doors for them, give them their jacket when it’s cold, watch their language around them and protect them with their very life if they must. Of course, those precious gems are women who deserve protection of that kind. But life isn’t like that. People are changing as the decades roll on, and I don’t think they are changing for the better. I guess that’s why I cling to an image that I think is ideal (it doesn’t mean it is).

I’ve had several people tell me that if I think this way, if I love the concept of romance and “happily ever after” endings then I’m writing the wrong genre. Perhaps I am, but I also love fast pace and lots of action…and, the writer in me is battling with merging the two to make the perfect story (in my opinion)!

Merry Christmas!

It’s the festive season and everyone is busy…or they should be. This will be my last opportunity to post anything this side of Christmas Day, so I’d like to take the opportunity to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas. May your day be filled with happiness, joy and love and may you be wreathed in smiles.

Finders Keepers and The Timekeeper

Finders Keepers

Finders Keepers by Emily Rodda

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I wanted something fun to read. As I enjoy books for younger readers, I thought I’d give this two-book series a go – the second book is entitled “The Timekeeper” is reviewed in this same post below. Besides, as I write for this age group, it’s a great way to do research too.

Anyway, Finders Keepers is about a boy who agrees to enter a TV show competition. The thing is the people running the show live on the other side of the barrier and Patrick has to go through to that world in order to play.

The story is for eight to twelve year olds. It’s quick and easy to read. The story itself is fun and gets the imagination working. I believe these are the correct ingredients for the age group targeted. Story development was gradual and not too complex, but I didn’t feel it spoke down to the intended audience either.

The Timekeeper

The Timekeeper by Emily Rodda

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is book 2 in the two-book series.

We return to Patrick a few days after the events in the first book and things seem to be worse than ever. The barrier between the two worlds is going berserk and if something isn’t done about it soon, then it can only lead to disaster. Of course, it’s left to Patrick to deal with.

The first couple of chapters were a bit slower than I expected. I believe the story got bogged down with backstory, which is a shame. The author included a “report” (written from the point of view of the TV show producer) as a prologue, which explained what happened in book 1, which was fine. If she had left it at that, the pace would have been much faster, earlier in the book. However, she then went and included the same backstory in the first few chapters and that slowed the story down a lot. But once that was over with, the pace picked up and the plot was suspenseful.

Apart from that, the book was interesting and well written. The two books would intrigue any young reader.

Both books, as a set, are recommended.

Broken Plugin Causes Inability to Post

The new WordPress allows the user to update plugins with a quick click of a button – no downloading the new file then uploading it to the server and then activating it. Life is becoming so much easier with each year that passes, in terms of technology.

Recently, I used this new system to update several plugins. I’ve done it before and never experienced any problems. However, this time, was different. This time, something went wrong and although I could login to WordPress and make my way to the dashboard, that was as far as I could go. I couldn’t post, I couldn’t go to the plugin page and deactivate the offending plugin (which I didn’t know which one it was anyway) and I couldn’t add links, pages, update the theme or anything. It’s been a real pain in the rear.

A couple of people suggested that I access the files via ftp and just deleted the plugin file. I was hesitant to do this as I thought it might wreck the inner workings of WordPress. But, a desperate person will chance anything so half an hour ago, that’s what I did – I deleted the plugin file.

I don’t know if there’s an adverse affects, but I’m writing this post which is something I couldn’t do this morning so maybe I’ll be up and running again now. Only time will tell. If you see anything unusual, please leave a comment and let me know.

eBook Review: Ether

Ether

Ether by Kristine Williams

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Yesterday, I mentioned how I select books to read and Ether by Kristine Williams is an excellent example of that. Because of my current addiction to read ebooks I was combing Smashwords, a website that offers ebooks by new authors in many different formats. The prices are really low and that makes the “risk” easier to take. To buy a main stream book by a new author, the cost would probably be around $18 to $25 in Australia. To buy an ebook by a new author through Smashwords, the cost is about $0.99 to $7.00 (the average being around $3.00). Ether cost me $1.25 and was worth every cent.

I digress, as I was saying, I was combing Smashwords looking for my next victim when a cover jumped from the screen and yelled “pick me, pick me”. That cover told me instantly that the story was about our world entwined with another, and I love that type of story. I was intrigued to find out more. The blurb only pulled me in further so I quickly worked out how I could read the opening paragraph, which wasn’t difficult to do at all, and upon doing so was convinced this was a book I’d enjoy.

Ether is another world connected to our world. The only way through is with a key and there’s not many of them in existence. Daniel Harper discovers a strange key on his late uncle’s keyring when he inherits the house. When he uses that key to unlock the cellar door, he finds himself in a state of total confusion when he steps through the door into the path of an oncoming car – a strange looking car at that. The events that unfold from there are interesting and well written.

The characters had depth and I especially liked the way the author weaved humour into their personalities. It was amusing to read their reactions to certain situations, although if I found myself in the same situation it wouldn’t have been the slightest bit amusing. The characters were distinct and strong and believable. Ether (the world) wasn’t quite as developed as the characters, but not enough for it to be distracting and certainly not enough for me not to enjoy the story. In truth, I can’t quite say why Ether didn’t feel as rounded as it should have been, but something was missing.

That aside, I really enjoyed the story, the characters and the author’s writing style. I would definitely read something else written by her. In fact, I’ve already checked to see if there is anything else and…there is.

This ebook is highly recommended. I believe it’s also available in printed form too.

And to all those writers out there, remember, readers do judge a book by it’s cover so make sure yours is a great one.

What a difference a decade makes!

During my lifetime I’ve seen some changes in the world, especially where technology is concerned. I remember, in 1990, when my boss paid $50,000 for two computers. I was thrilled to be given one of those computers to work on. It was a buzz to use exciting new equipment and I learned quickly that I liked computers. Yet, looking back, that computer hardly did anything compared to today’s computers. There were two programs on it, it didn’t have the internet or email. In fact, I hadn’t even heard of those things back then. When I left that job in 1995, there was talk of this new thing called Windows. I had no idea what that could be…and I didn’t find out for a couple of years.

Back then, in what might seem like the dark ages for some people, reading was only done from printed material. Books were wonderful to look at, to touch, to smell. The stories within the covers were sometimes not so wonderful, but I learned to pick and chose quite well so that I didn’t waste too much of my hard earned money. It’s shameful to admit, but the cover was the first thing that caught my attention. Then…if the blurb on the back was good, I’d open the book and read the first paragraph. If I liked the way the words were put together, I’d consider buying the book. If I didn’t like the word flow, the book was rejected. This method worked well for me over several decades of reading.

In 1997, I bought my first Windows operated computer. I installed a word processor called Word Perfect and happily wrote two 200,000+ manuscripts from start to finish in about three years. What happened to those manuscripts is another story, for another day. Yes, I saw the icon on the computer that would connect me to the internet and email, but I still didn’t know what those things were and had no need for either of them because I was happy doing something else I loved – writing.

The years passed, the millennium came and went without the huge catastrophe that everyone seemed to be warning us about. Instead, things went on as usual and then started to grow and grow. Finally, in early 2001, I was introduced to the internet for the very first time. I remember my fascination with the concept that we had instant access to all this information and we could communicate with people all over the world at any time of the day and night. It was brilliant. And what made it better – and worse – was the knowledge that I wasn’t the only writer writing the next best seller. (I say “worse” because it’s since the internet that I stopped writing at every spare moment I had.)

I learned so much in the years that followed. About everything, not just writing. But then I discovered something called self-publishing and the weirdest thing yet, ebooks. I found it difficult to grasp the concept of books without paper. In a lot of ways, I rejected the notion. It just felt so wrong! As did self-publishing.

That first Windows computer was quickly replaced with bigger and better systems, which were again replaced for newer technology a short time later. This cycle happened several times in the effort to stay up with the times, but we soon realised that it was an impossible situation and we finally accepted that our new laptops would have to see us through for some years to come. We were now completely immersed in the instant world of viewing, downloading, accessing, emailing, blogging, facebooking, gaming, chatting, online buying and selling, paying, meeting…

Still the years ticked by, technology rolling along in front of us, always showing us new and fascinating things. Suddenly, self publishing and ebooks became real, acceptable, the way of the future. I found myself wanting to “try out” the self publishing side of the publishing industry and I certainly looked at ebooks in a more favourable way. This was especially true when technology provided a gadget that I could hold in my hand, allowing me to sit wherever I wanted and read peacefully. Especially when I could carry a dozen or more books with me everywhere I went (or a lot more if I really wanted to), without giving myself back ache from the weight of carrying heavy paper books.

What a difference a decade makes!

This year, I have listened to my first audio book and have read at least two ebooks. I look forward to reading more. I already have them queued up in my iPod Touch. I carry an assortment of books with me every day – fiction and non-fiction – because who knows what I’ll want to read at lunchtime or on the way home?! And with modern technology, it doesn’t matter because I have my pick.

I thought choosing ebooks would be more difficult than printed books. Riskier. But I find the cover still catches my attention first and if the blurb is any good then I’ll proceed to view the first page of the ebook and see if I like the author’s style of writing before I decide whether or not I’ll part with my hard earned cash. This method always worked with printed books and, so far, it’s done me well with ebooks too.

If the last decade has given us such changes, I wonder what the next decade will bring. I can’t even begin to imagine.