Audio Book Review: The Shack

The Shack

The Shack by William P. Young

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Horror of horrors, I came to the end of my knitting supplies and have nothing to fill my morning train ride hours. No, I can’t write. I’ve tried it and I’m too sleepy to be able to focus. Besides that, my eyes water like crazy, which is more than a little annoying and I was arriving at work looking as if I’ve cried all the way because my eyes were so red and puffy. Not a good start to the day, I can tell you. Yet I find I can knit and not suffer any “side affects”.

After some complaining, I woke one morning to find a small mp3 player sitting on the kitchen table, along with a spare battery. Upon querying why the device was there, I was told that an audio book borrowed from the library had been converted and loaded onto the player and that I was to take it with me on the train. I did. It’s not the first audio book I’ve listened too, but it’s the first time I’ve realised that I can listen to a book without “side affects” too. Yay!

The Shack is a story of a man whose six-year old daughter is taken and murdered, while the family is on a camping trip, and then goes on to tell the anguish that follows the tragic event – emotionally and spiritually. When G borrowed the item from the library and when I first started listening to the story, neither of us knew it was religious. By the time I did realise, I had already grown attached to the main character and his problems (I could identify with him because of my own loss) and I wanted to know more. I wanted to know if this man, this father, could get through the darkness that I knew so well…so I kept listening.

Yes, this story is highly religious and my one complaint is that at times the dialogue felt more like a sermon than a discussion, which really grated on my nerves. Yet at the same time, I was drawn in and held tight by the ideas behind the sermons. I guess I even found comfort in those ideas to a degree. So, again, I kept listening.

This book was written to get those religious thoughts across to an audience. I know and accept that. Prior to 18th May 2006, I wouldn’t have listened to the entire book because I simply don’t like being preached at and to be honest I wouldn’t have related to the characters and events at all. But I’ve changed…in many ways. I didn’t like the preachy parts, but I sat and listened and was completed absorbed in what was being said. I was touched by the emotional struggle the father was battling, enough to bring tears. I remained oblivious to the comings and goings of other passengers. I was oblivious to everything happening around me. In fact, when I turned off the player and looked around I was shocked to see so many people seated around me when I had been completely alone when I pressed play.

This isn’t a book I would feel comfortable recommending to others because not everyone will get something from it. It’s a book that the reader should read if they have experienced troubled times, if they know grief and if they want to attempt understanding just one possibility of the whole picture. It’s a book I believe will pull a reader/listener in, but only if that person can relate to profound grief and emotional stress.

Religious or not, I’m glad I listened to this audio book because I gained something from it.

Decision Time, My Week in a Nutshell

I’ve been working behind the scenes on this website (on and off) all day. Admittedly, there isn’t a lot to show for it, but that doesn’t mean nothing has happened. In fact, I’m pleased with the progress I’ve made and, if you’re observant, you may even notice a couple of the changes that have been made. If you haven’t noticed, than that’s cool (you weren’t really meant to).

The decision has been made. I will be setting myself up as a sole trader and starting a small business. This week has seen me deep within the pages of a number of websites – researching – thanks to the help of horror writer, Alan Baxter. (Thanks, Alan.)

This time last week I knew nothing about business. Today, I have a general understanding of what will be expected of me. Tomorrow (read that as “sometime in the near future”) I’ll be walking the walk and talking the talk. It’s an exciting but scary thought.

My game plan is to do it right! I’m not going to rush into things. I’m going to take on the “slow and steady wins the race” attitude. I’ve been brainstorming business names and have settled, tentatively, on a name. I have searched the necessary databases to find out if anyone else has registered the name; they haven’t. I have done a search on the internet to see if a website exists using that name; it doesn’t. I have researched obtaining ISBN numbers, library catalogue numbers, tax requirements, proper copyright notices, State library requirements, small business accounting needs and much more. Once I had a better understanding how everything worked, the decision became a lot easier to make.

All further plans have been put on hold until I have a business name registered and an ABN number approved. Once that happens, I’ll set up a trading account and the accounting software and then I can move forward with getting my books published.

I can see it all clearly in my mind…where I’m heading and where I want to be. Did I mention this is exciting and scary at the same time? Well, it is. This is the biggest step I’ve taken on my writing journey to date. This is the step that will announce “I’m serious!”

Walking the Indie Publishing Road

No, I have not fallen into a black hole. Yes, I am still writing (even though the progress bars in the sidebar are not moving). So what have I been doing? The last few months have seen me more focused on writing than I have been in some time.

My progress with Whispering Caves was going quite well. However, writing in first person presented a problem where I couldn’t present vital information as the main character had no way of knowing about it (or finding out about it). I came up with a solution, but am not convinced it is working that well. Having written 15,000 words, I must admit that the manuscript has been placed on the back burner, once again. I’m not entirely happy with this decision, but feel I should be moving forward on other completed projects before finishing this one.

The reason I’ve put the manuscript on the back burner is due to another decision I’ve made about my Cat’s Series (for young readers). There are four books in the series. Two have been written and edited. The other two have been planned, but need writing. As mentioned in a previous post, I’ve decided to publish this series of books myself.

At present, I’m trying to decide if I want to set up a publishing company (small press) or find out if there are other options that would be more suitable for my situation. I’m usually quite resourceful, but have had little luck finding any good information on what options are available to me. This may mean the options are limited, but I want to make an informed decision so I’ll keep searching.

Ideally, setting up a business would be great except I have no knowledge how to go about it or what it entails afterwards and this scares me…a lot! In fact, my own fear is holding me back from taking further steps and this not only annoys me, but frustrates me too.

In the meantime, I’ve been working on covers for the four books. As I’m not an artist, I’ve decided to go with a theme that will cover (excuse the pun) the entire series. The background colours will be bright, the main image will promote the essence of the series and then there will be another image that will be unique to each book. Books 2 and 3 are done, but I’m having a devil of a time with the cover of book 1 – Cat’s Eyes. I’ve been to many royalty free websites and have not found anything suitable. I have used family photos of my own cats to try and achieve a pair of cat’s eyes that would be right, but haven’t come up with the right look yet. A simple pair of black eyes on a transparent background, at a size suitable for cover artwork, will not defeat me!

That’s what I’ve been doing – artwork, editing, refining plans for the unwritten books, writing blurbs, researching and reading websites regarding indie authors, thinking about formats and publication. All these things are writing related.

If you know of any resources that may help me, please let me know. I need all the help I can get.