Personal: A Change on the Horizon

No, I’m not going to change the template. I quite like this one and will be keeping it for a while yet. The change I refer to is of a personal nature. The change will affect my life in every way possible. More importantly, this change will have positive results on my writing.

Many of you know that I’ve been travelling to work for the last couple of years. Travelling as in long distance. Travelling as in two hours and ten minutes each way. Travelling as in a total of 21 hours a week! Then, on top of this, I’ve worked 40 hours a week and I’ve slept 37.5 hours a week (or tried to, at least). Then there’s the 4 hours taken up in walking to and from the station and waiting for the train each week. Don’t forget the 2.5 hours per week for the lunch breaks I’ve earned. And the 2.5 hours per week allocated to getting showered and dressed each morning. That leaves me with a grand weekly total of 12.5 hours. Of course, that isn’t all leisure time. I have to eat dinner, make my lunch for the next day, do something at least to help out around the house to prevent mutiny and spend time with my family and my pets. On average, I get an hour a day for me. I’m usually so tired I can’t think about characters, plots or settings. I’m lucky if I can think at all!

As of 10 December that will change. I have found employment closer to home. So close, in fact, that I will never have need of a car. If this was an old western, I would proudly tell you my new job is within spitting distance. However, as it’s not an old western and I’m too much of a lady to spit I’ll simply say that the job is just around the corner.

But that’s not all! Yes, there’s more. The job is permanent part-time. I’m going from a 40 hour week to a 25 hour week. This is something I’m really going to love! I’m saving 15 hours of work time, 21 hours of travel time, 4 hours of walk and waiting time. This adds up to 40 hours of life!

Life!

I’m going to have a life. I simply cannot believe it and cannot wait for that. I took it for granted before but now I will treasure it. As the reality of it all sinks in, I find myself excited by the prospect of daily writing time. I already plan to get up each morning and write for two hours (I will be working in the afternoons) before I have breakfast, get dressed and then do other life activities with family, friends and pets. If I can make this a habit then I’ll find a new routine that includes everything I’ve been missing for so long, including a generous writing time.

I’ve waited patiently for a very long time, and now I have received my wish. I am so happy.

eBook Review: Heidi

Heidi (Kingfisher Classics)

Heidi by Johanna Spyri

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Like most females, I loved this story as a child. However, recently, I realised that I’d only ever seen various movie versions of it (the one I remember most was the one with Shirley Temple playing the role of Heidi) and had never actually read the book. With this in mind, I decided it was time to fix that oversight.

Heidi by Johanna Spyri was written around 1880 and for this reason the wording is very old fashion and stiff to read. Yet, knowing the era the story is set in suits the formal writing. I found it easy to accept and even to ignore.

Heidi is about a young girl who lives in the Swiss mountains. Everyone who meets her falls under her spell as she is a girl of innocence and loves helping people. Her loving nature and giving heart result in people depending on her more than they should.

[pullquote align=”left”]Give with a willing heart.

Remember God in all that you do and the reward will be greater than your wish.[/pullquote]

The story is well known by most people, as it was to me. What I didn’t know was that the book is heavily religious orientated. These days, a writer is warned to be subtle in the messages they wish to share with their audience. The messages within Heidi were not subtle! The messages are clear and strong, sometimes even a bit overpowering, but I didn’t allow that to ruin the story.

I’m glad I read the ebook for no other reason than the fact that I can now say I’ve read it. It was good to revisit a childhood story and discover new things within it.

Podcast Review: Shadow Magic

Some months ago, actually it was more like two years ago, a friend recommended a podcast to me. I had only just discovered podcasts and she thought I would enjoy this one. However, having to listen to them on my computer proved to be annoying as I can’t work and listen at the same time, so I left the email containing the link in my inbox, waiting for a more convenient time.

That time never came, but the email remained in my inbox.

Then, earlier this year I bought myself an iPod Touch (as you are no doubt sick of hearing about by now). For the first several months I couldn’t get enough of ebooks. But then I also rediscovered the world of podcasts (which you are probably also sick of hearing about). By this time, the email had become part of the furniture and I hardly even noticed it when I checked my email. Until a couple of weeks ago, when I was doing a clean up.

I followed the link provided by my good friend, Sherry, and then I followed another link to the author’s website and from there I followed another link to iTunes. Brilliant! The entire book was promptly downloaded to my iPod Touch and within days I was listening to the podcast.

Shadow Magic by John Lenahan is simply brilliant. It is read by the author, who is a writer, comedian and magician. It is a fantasy story based on Irish Mythology, so you’ll hear names of people and places that ring a bell. It’s about an eighteen year old named Connor, who has lived in our world his entire life. He has a cheeky personality and a loving spirit. Although he never knew his mother, Connor has been raised by a caring father, but he doesn’t have any other living relatives. Then one day he discovers he has an aunt. But the discovery is made after his aunt tries to kill him and he is taken to The Land!

John brought the characters alive with his telling of the story. So much so, in fact, that part of me is glad I listened to the podcast rather than purchased the book. The reason I say this is because the author is so easy to listen to and the storyline is so well crafted that I simply couldn’t hear enough of it. It’s funny, serious, gory in places and filled with emotion in other places. The world is vivid. The characters strong. The plot believable. I truly did enjoy it. At the risk of repeating myself, which I know is strictly not good for a writer, the story is brilliant!

This one is highly recommended.

The podcast can be found at iTunes or head over to the author’s website to find out where else you can download the book.

eBook Review: The Yin & Yang Books

The Yin & Yang Book (Chinese Whisperings)

The Yin & Yang Book by Paul Anderson & Jodi Cleghorn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lately, I’ve been hearing people repeatedly say that we must open our minds and experience new things. I am very much a creature of habit. Most people can set their clocks by me. “What’s Karen doing? Oh, well it must be X o’clock then!”

You can laugh or smile, but I think that’s a bad thing because a creature of habit learns nothing new. I’m trying to become another type of creature right now. I’m not sure what the creature is called, but it steps out of its comfort zone more often, sees new things, reads new things, experiences new things. It doesn’t come naturally for me to do this, but so far the experience has been pretty good.

On 10.10.10 a book was released and in that book is a story written by a long-time friend of mine, Benjamin Solah. I was made aware of the book’s release through an invitation, from Benjamin, to attend the online book launch. Of course, I went. I respect Benjamin and his writing and wanted to show my support. Through that event I was made aware of a book that sounded quite…what can I say…“different”. I made a note of the book’s title on my to-read list and carried on with my day. A few days later I was thrilled when I received notification that I had won a copy of the ebook.

The Yin & Yang Books edited by Jodi Cleghorn and Paul Anderson is a collection of short stories set in an airport. That doesn’t sound exciting in itself, but believe me, the stories are entwined together in a way that forces the reader’s attention. They are filled with intrigue, mystery and humour. One story will tease you with something and another story will satisfy you with the resolution. Several stories might hint at something else and then you’ll be treated with the “real” story later in the book. The characters, because they are written by many authors, have unique voices…yet you feel as if you are reading one complete story written by one person. It is most cleverly done and I was impressed by the high quality of writing by not one or two of the authors, but ALL of them.

Now, going back to Benjamin’s story. He describes himself as a marxist horror writer. He is passionate about many political issues and likes to address these topics in his writing. “Somewhere to Pray (Kurush)” is not an exception. For the duration of however many words the story is, the reader finds themselves in the head of a Muslim. It doesn’t matter what your views are, you’re seeing life through his eyes and you’re feeling his desperation. The story is extremely fast paced and in some ways horrific. By the time you reach the end you’re breathless, ashamed and alarmed. More than that I cannot say without a spoiler, in my opinion. Benjamin writes with passion and his words make you stop and think, even if it’s for a second, and that cannot be a bad thing.

I thoroughly enjoyed this ebook and would happily recommend it.

Podcast Review: Shadow Hunter Trilogy

I’m a bit behind with my reviews as I’ve had other things on my mind, but more about that in another post later.

Oh, where do I start? I think I’ll tell you about the podcast sequels to Shadow Hunter by Terrence D McLean. The second book in the trilogy is called Chasing Shadows and the third book is Shadows Fall.

I remember when Terry started out with podcasting, about three or so years ago. Those first few episodes betrayed his nerves even though he desperately tried to hide it. But our voice is not easily controlled and I heard the nerves. I admired his courage because I do not believe I would have been able to even start a podcast, let alone to start and conquer the thing that makes us nervous and then go on and record three books. In fact, I know I wouldn’t be able to achieve this accomplishment, so a sincere “well done” must be sent through the airwaves to Terry. And as each episode was published, I knew he was feeling more confident and long before the end of the first book all thoughts of whether or not he was nervous were completely gone. In the second book he introduced guest readers, who adopted particular points of view to read, which gave a new dimension to the characters.

The Shadow Hunter trilogy is pure fantasy. If you love magic, demons, mystical objects and other worlds then you’re in for a treat. The world is fully developed and totally believable. As I listened to Terry tell his story, I had vivid images playing out in my mind. The characters are likeable, flaws and all. Even the ones we are not supposed to like, play their parts extremely well. The scenes are captivating for many reasons. They were fast paced, drawing me from one catastrophe to the next. One scene would have me listening to strong battles where my heart beat would speed up a little and the next scene might bring tears to my eyes (literally) because of the emotion contained in the story, which was beautifully conveyed by Terry.

I listened to all three books, one after the other, which meant I was listening to the story of Shalli and her world for several weeks. When the podcasts came to an end, I actually felt sad. It was over and I don’t think I was quite ready for the end. A friend told me that he had just finished watching a TV series. He said that he felt like a good friend was leaving forever, which left him feeling sad and quiet. I understood what he meant because I had just finished listening to the Shadow Hunter trilogy and I felt exactly like that.

Shadow Hunter by Terrence D McLean, and its sequels, are recommended. You can find the podcasts, completely free, at iTunes.

Cat’s Eyes Online Book Launch

I am proud to announce the details for the online book launch for Cat’s Eyes (Land of Miu, Book 1).

The launch will take place from 8pm on Friday 10 December 2010 to 5pm on Sunday 12 December 2010. It will be held on Facebook and everyone is welcome to join the celebrations.

Copies of the digital version of the book will be given away to random participants, so if you would like to be in the running then be sure to post a comment on the event page. To comment, you must be logged in to Facebook and click on “I’m Attending” at the top of the page.

Click here to be taken to the event page.

Goodreads Giveaway: Cat’s Eyes

I have authorised Goodreads to give away ten copies of Cat’s Eyes (Land of Miu, Book 1). The promotion will run between 12 November and 12 December 2010. This will coincide with the book launch on 10 December 2010. If you want to be in the running to win a copy of the book, click on “Enter to Win” below.

Please note that although I will be supplying the books to the winners, I am not involved in choosing the winners. This will be handled solely by Goodreads.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Cat's Eyes (Land of Miu, #1) by Karen Lee Field

Cat’s Eyes

by Karen Lee Field

Giveaway ends December 12, 2010.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

eBook Review: Nightmare

Nightmare (The Silent Empire, #2)

Nightmare by Steven Harper

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Nightmare by Steven Harper is book 2 in The Silent Empire Series. The title of the first book is Silent and you’ll find my review for Silent here.

Nightmare is more of a prequel and I must say that I really enjoyed this book. It was excellent in all ways.

The story takes us back to Kendi’s childhood. We see how he is split up from his family when he’s sold into slavery. We share the life that follows. It’s a hard life, a subservient life but Kendi is unwilling to forget his past. When the Children of Irfan rescue him some years later, he can hardly believe he’s free, let alone safe. But it turns out he’s not safe; no Silent is safe because there’s a serial killer on the loose.

The hesitation I felt from the author in book one was non-existent in this book. It was so much more believable. The characters came alive on the page. The setting was three dimensional. The plot was sort of like a fantasy/science fiction mystery thriller, which I considered to be well thought out and written. There were some gory descriptions but nothing that wasn’t absolutely necessary for the storyline.

The thing that stood out the most was the fact that I started reading and with no time at all, I was finished! For me, this is a sign that I’ve been totally absorbed by what I’m reading. The words flowed effortlessly, the storyline unfolded without any jarring occurrences and the resolution was more than just acceptable.

Again, I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it. I certainly will be purchasing the next book in the series.