Writing Update

It’s been a long, long time since I wrote an update for this website that didn’t consist of a book review. I wouldn’t blame you for thinking the blog is dead. But it’s not. I’m here as always. I check in often but don’t feel there’s anything worth saying, that hasn’t been said before. That’s one of the problems with having a blog for many years. The blogger runs out of things to say. Or, maybe the importance of what’s being said changes with time.

Anyway, after the stroke 18 months ago, I spent many months recovering. I did little else except sleep, work and read. 2012 was a complete write-off for me.

2013 has been different. There are on-going medical issues and will be forever, from what I’m told, but I’m not going to focus on any of that. This post is about achievements. Despite the set-backs, I have had achievements.

I completed the editing course and received my diploma. You couldn’t wipe the smile off my face when that happened.

I have edited and published two anthologies — Night Terrors and Tomorrow — under the name Karen Henderson.

And in recent months, I have started writing again. I have written half a manuscript for younger readers, which has a working title of Haunted House and I have written four chapters of book 3 of The Land of Miu series — The Lion Gods.

At present, I am averaging about 800 words a day, which (to me) is brilliant. It is important not to pressure myself into a corner, so I made the decision to write 450 words a day. And, if I do miss a day (which is rare) I don’t beat myself up over it.

Writing, for me, used to be a way of spending every spare moment. I would think about writing while at work or on the train. I would dream about writing at night. I would sit long into the night and lose myself in worlds of my own making. But then, I started to feel pressured and writing became a chore. When that happened, I lost the joy and stopped writing.

I’m not interested in going back to that. Not ever!

So, when I write, I do it to relax. I want to enjoy what I’m doing and never want to feel pressured in any way. If I write 200 words and it’s just not coming together, then I’ll stop and try again tomorrow (when I’ll probably scrap those words and start again). However, I’m finding that the words flow if I don’t over commit myself and I’m pleased about that. I’ll go with it until both the manuscripts I’ve mentioned above are completed.

Book Reviews: The Quentaris Chronicles

Quentaris is a fantasy world filled with magic. The stories written in this world are by various Australian authors. The books are stand-alone adventure stories written for young adults. Recently, I’ve read three books in this series. They are:

The Murderers' ApprenticeThe Murderers’ Apprentice by Pamela Freeman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The title attracted me to this story. I’d read other Quentaris books some years ago and enjoyed them, so decided to purchase this one. It wasn’t until I got home and examined the book more closely that I realised it was written by Pamela Freeman, author of The Castings Trilogy, which I loved.

The main character of The Murderers’ Apprentice is named Merrith. She is apprenticed to become an assassin with the Murderers’ Guild. But Merrith doesn’t actually like killing people and she’s not doing too well in her lessons as a result.

But she can’t just walk away from the guild as a prophecy has everyone else convinced that she’s going to save Quentaris. Unlikely as it sounds to her, she goes through the Rift Caves and attempts to do her job.

The book is easy to read and easy to absorb. I enjoyed the story line and liked the characters. Whilst I wouldn’t consider the book ‘deep’, sometimes that’s not what I want when reading. I accepted the book for what it is and should be — entertaining.

Nightmare In QuentarisNightmare In Quentaris by Michael Pryor

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book in the series is written by one of the editors and concerns a well-known character in the series, Nisha, who is accompanied by her friend, Tal.

I remembered these two from the other books I’ve read in the series, so it was nice to return to them and read another of their adventures.

This time, something strange is happening at the Old Tree Guesthouse–where the pair live with the guesthouse owner, Arna. The other employees are acting weird and wondering off, deliveries are not turning up, and there are not many patrons or guests coming to the guesthouse either.

Yet when Nisha and Tal wander the city there is plenty going on elsewhere. Could it have something to do with the scary looking guest who checked in a few days beforehand or is there another reason? Nisha and Tal are determined to find out.

I would say this book is a mini-mystery book. It’s not too complex, which again makes the book easy to read and digest. There’s plenty going on to keep the reader’s interest. And, a few twists and turns have been thrown in to throw the reader off the track.

Beneath Quentaris: Quentaris ChroniclesBeneath Quentaris: Quentaris Chronicles by Michael Pryor

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is another Nisha and Tal adventure, written by one of the editors of the series.

In this one, Nisha is sent on a quest to learn more about her ‘fire’ ability. At the same time she is helping some old residents who are trapped Beneath Quentaris and is hoping to obtain an amulet that she can use to hone her skills.

This book is the simplest story I’ve read in the series. There’s no real danger or urgency. The characters are on a quest and are learning more about themselves, their world and the magic that surrounds them. The story may be simple, but that doesn’t translate to boring. It’s well written and enjoyable.

What I like about these books is that they are easy to read. Sometimes, I have so much going on in my life that I can’t get my mind around complex stories. To just sit and read and enjoy is important. No effort is required for the Quentaris Chronicles and for me that’s a good way to relax on any day.

Book Review: The Dark

The Dark (The Dead #2) The Dark by David Gatward

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is the second book of “The Dead” series. The first book was great – filled with non-stop action, gore and suspense. I really enjoyed it.

However, the second book was nothing in comparison. It seemed to go in circles. It was repetitive and I found the main character to be beyond annoying. I just wanted to thump him and demand he pull himself together and DO something instead of complaining all the time.

It felt as if the author was writing from the seat of his pants and didn’t know where to go next and gathered the characters together so they could chat for a while until he worked it out. The first time it happened, I was okay with it, but the second time I wasn’t so forgiving, and all the times after that was just plain irritating. The ‘chats’ discussed the same things over and over and over again.

And when an important question was asked, the answer was never given. It’s fine to plant the question into the reader’s mind but I believe there has to be a more subtle way to do it. Having something happen at that moment or to have the person reply “you’ll find out later” or “you’re not ready for the answer” is a cop out.

I was over it! And, unfortunately, these things and the main character’s reaction to practically everything that happened tore me out of the zone and I had no reason or inclination to get back into the story. It was hard work reaching the end of the book after that happened.

I have the third book but, at this stage, I’m not sure if I’ll read it.

Book Review: The Dead

The Dead (The Dead #1)The Dead by David Gatward

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Description:

Lazarus Stone is about to turn sixteen when, one night, his normal life is ripped to shreds by a skinless figure drenched in blood.

He has a message: The Dead are coming.

Now Lazarus is all that stands in their way. To fulfil his destiny, he must confront not only the dark past of his family, but horrors more gruesome than even Hell could invent. And it all begins with the reek of rotting flesh…

Review:

Whilst browsing the shelves of my local second-hand bookshop (the only bookshop in town) I came across this young adult series—all three books, in good condition too!

The dead are coming!

Well, what can I say, this one sentence provided my imagination with lots of images and I immediately picked up all three books and purchased them.

The Dead is book one of the series. It starts out strong and carried me right through to the last page. It’s fast-paced and interesting. There’s no time to ponder or get distracted or to check what’s on television because something is happening all the time to demand your full attention.

If you’re looking for deep and meaningful, then this isn’t the book for you. This book is fun, vivid and entertaining. Yes, it’s classed as horror, but there’s no need to be scared—blood and guts are definitely a part of the story—unless, of course, you are of a timid nature, in which case there will be plenty to cause you fear.

And the characters? We are introduced to Lazarus and Craig, best mates, and Arielle (you’ll have to read the book to find out more about her). They are likeable and work well together. I’m looking forward to reading where the author will take them in book two, The Dark.

Recommended.