Images moved to Flickr

This website has been in existence since 2 November 2004. However, prior to that date the site was hosted by Blogger for a couple of years. Over the years, many posts have been written, some of which have also been deleted during numerous “clean ups”.

Recently, I received notification from my provider that I was nearing full capacity. This caused some concern for me. Questions went through my head. Should I purchase the next “plan”? Should I move to another provider? Should I find a way to archive my posts?

Not wanting to pay more than I already am on a website, I quickly rejected the first option. Having used my current provider for some years now and knowing their service is good and reliable, I didn’t want to entertain the second option (at this stage). I researched the third option, but found nothing worthwhile. This left me in a slight dilemma until a fourth option came to light and I started thinking about the number of images on the website, knowing they can take up a lot of room!

This weekend has seen me spend a lot of time behind the scenes, working hard on minimising content. First, I deleted all unwanted plugins and themes. That alone took me down almost 12%. Then I moved all the images to Flickr — not including the ones required for the theme, my book covers and my photo. There were many images, falling into four distinct categories (ie author and book covers, medieval, Egyptian and misc). All of them have been uploaded to Flickr and I’ve spent many hours linking the images to the relevant posts. It was hard work, but now that I’m finished I’m glad I did it as I gained another 18%.

I’ve gained 30% more space to use for writing posts. The next time I receive notification from my provider saying I’m nearing capacity…I don’t know what I’ll do, but hopefully I won’t have to worry about that for a while yet.

Competition: What does a Miuan look like?

The Competition:
The author would love to see your impression of what a Miuan looks like. The competition is open to everyone, however, you will have to have read Cat’s Eyes in order to enter.

By submitting an entry, the artist is giving permission for the author to upload the image to her website and to Facebook, and use it indefinitely. However, copyright will remain with the creator.

How to Enter:
Entries will be accepted until 30 June 2011. Email your sketch, drawing, painting, etc, in jpeg format to karenleefield AT gmail DOT com. The winning entry will be chosen by the author.

The Prize:
The winner will receive a free paperback copy of book 2, Cat’s Paw, when it is published.

Digital Rights Contracts

Personally, this is something I haven’t had to think about as I have not sold digital rights to a publisher. However, Michael A Stackpole has something to say about it in his post 9 Must-have Clauses for Digital Rights Contracts and I found his comments interesting.

It wasn’t too long ago that publishers didn’t have to worry about anything other than printing rights. From what I’ve heard, very little royalty was given to the author. I remember one author saying, this was about 10 years ago, she received less than $1 for every book sold. At the time I was shocked by this news as plainly the amount of work that goes into a manuscript was surely worth more than that. Yet thinking about it now, I can see that she didn’t write for the money, she wrote to be read.

Anyway, ebooks made an appearance and it would seem that publishers still didn’t bother with digital rights because who’s going to buy them anyway? This left an opening for the authors to step in and take control of their own ebook sales. I have no idea if this opportunity was grabbed by authors or not but they would have been crazy not to.

Now publishers are realising their mistake and have started to include digital rights in the contracts. Why? Because it’s more money for them. And the author will continue to get some meagre royalty for all their hard work. However, that’s beside the point. My problem with this is that the ebooks will be sold for the same price as the paperback, or perhaps slightly less.

To me this is outrageous. I feel strongly about this. Ebooks should be at least half the price of the printed version. For heavens sake, there’s no paper, no ink, no postage, no storage. And don’t give me all that rubbish about the amount of work that goes into setting up an ebook. That’s crap. There’s no more work setting up an ebook than there is a paper version. I know. I’ve done both.

Sorry, I’m going off on a tangent. I believe ebooks in the hands of traditional publishers is a bad thing. Yes, sell publishing rights, but all authors should hold on to their own digital rights and, for a change, start making some decent money from the sales of their work.

Local Bookshop Gone!

Living in a small town has its drawbacks, especially when it comes to shopping. Whenever I’m in the market to purchase something the choices are few – if there’s a choice at all!

Last weekend we decided to go to our local bookshop. I had some cash in my purse that needed to be spent and I reckon spending it on books makes good sense. Besides, I was in the market for a good Australian grammar reference book. I had spent an hour or so searching the internet but felt reluctant to purchase without being able to flick through the pages first.

The first sign of a problem was when I noticed the bargain bins were not outside the store. They are always there, spines pointing upwards, tempting passers-byers with titles that just might grab their attention…but often didn’t. As we got closer to the shop I noticed something else disturbing, no posters or books on display in the window. Admittedly my heart gave a jolt then but my mind told me confidently that the bookstore owner was simply in the middle of changing the display. It happens…sometimes!

Finally we came to a stop outside the vast windows and discovered, to our pure horror, an empty shop. Everything gone! We stood gaping through the windows for several seconds in silence. How could this be so? When did it happen? The small sign on the door told us “Sorry, I’ve retired”.

What can I say? I’m gutted. I didn’t feel happy that he could retire, or he felt he had to retire. I gave no thought about why he’d closed down; my only thought was “what are we going to do now?” We turned around and glanced across the road at the newsagency, but I’ve seen the small selection of books they carry – a few romances and a handful of biographies written by people I’ve never heard of. Even the books in the bargain bins would be a better choice. The only options now are the Post Office, which carries a few classics and some travel books, or the two second-hand bookshops, but I’ve rarely seen books in either of them that I really wanted to buy.

Yes, we did head to the second-hand shops but the only grammar reference books they had arrived on the Arc so were completed useless to me. I guess I have no choice now but to make more purchases from the internet, unless I want to travel to larger towns some 35 to 45 minutes drive away. I know it’s not that far to go, but it’s a nuisance.

My problem with purchasing online is the cost of postage. I’ve said it over and over again, postage to Australia is so expensive it’s not worth buying the book. With this in mind I set about finding Australian resources. There’s got to be somewhere online that is Australia based where we can buy from that isn’t going to cost us an arm and a leg.

The search results showed me it was difficult to find one place where 1) the books were a reasonable price, and 2) the postage was reasonable too. I could find one or the other but not usually both. Yet, having said that I did find one place that would give me both. It’s called The Nile. The prices are good and the postage is low – $2.99 for any number of books up to $50 (in total) and then postage is free. This means I’m back in the book buying market, because I don’t mind paying $3 for postage. That’s a fair price.

Now, where’s my Wish List?

Book Review: Full Circle

Full Circle (Castings Trilogy, Book 3)

Full Circle by Pamela Freeman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Full Circle is the third book in a fantasy trilogy. It’s also the first adult trilogy this author has written as she usually writes for a younger audience.

Follow the links to read my reviews on Blood Ties (Book 1) and Deep Water (Book 2).

The first two books were read in quick succession over two years ago but Full Circle was not due for release for another year so I had no choice but to wait. Circumstances meant I ended up waiting two years before I could read the book, which meant I had trouble remembering where the story was at and had actually forgotten one character completely, which I found quite distracting.

In fact, it was so distracting I couldn’t get into the story. Knowing this was going to spoil the book for me, I went on the internet and deliberately looked for spoilers for the first two books. I wanted to know what had happened in them. I wanted to remember. This proved to be a great thing as I discovered the information was still in my memory banks but they just needed some prompting to come out. I managed to piece together what had “gone before” but still could not remember how this certain character fitted into the story. Reluctant to continue reading without knowing, I searched for an answer but couldn’t find one…so I did something I’ve never done before, I contacted the author and asked her!

Armed with the facts, I continued reading and I am so glad I went to all that trouble.

Full Circle is a brilliant conclusion to a great story. There were not as many “mini-stories” in this book but as with the other books I totally enjoyed the ones that were included.

The story picks up where the previous one left off and we were guided smoothly to the climax. The story is told from various viewpoints and it was interesting to see how their points of view overlapped and especially how the meaning behind something previously seen from one person’s eyes could change completely when viewed from another set of eyes. It was really well done and felt natural, a bit like a light bulb being switched on allowing everyone to see the full picture.

As the pages turned and we moved towards the climax I found myself thinking I knew how the big confrontation would play out. I thought I saw how the author was positioning the players and I was eager to discover that I was right. Problem is, I wasn’t! I was taken totally by surprise by the turn of events and that made the ending even better.

The ending, without giving anything away, was sad but right. I felt tears welling yet felt satisfied with the outcome. It was strange to feel this way yet as a reader, I think it’s important that the author stirs something in the reader, making them think about the conclusion for a while, allowing emotions to affect the reader momentarily. Full Circle did that.

This trilogy is highly recommended.

Editing Course Update

In case you’re wondering, I have still been working on my course unit. However, the last few topics are all practical (which I’m not going to write posts on).

Now I’ve finished the study matter for the first unit and have moved on to revision before I start the assignment. The unit has been fun. I’ve learned a few new things but more importantly I have discovered a couple of areas where I’ve been doing the wrong thing!

As I move into the final edit phase of “Cat’s Paw” I will put these newly found skills to the test. I’m looking forward to that as it will mean the final product will be much improved.

Anyway, there will be no more “course” posts until I start Unit 2.

Read an Ebook Week 2011

Did you know ebooks have been around for 40 years? I didn’t. In fact, I find that piece of news fascinating because in my own mind ebooks were invented only a few short years ago. However, when I think about it for a while, I clearly see the flaw in my thinking because I used to make pdf versions of my manuscripts years before I became aware of the actual “ebook”.

These days ebooks are becoming quite well known and in some circles they are focused on and being watched very carefully. At some time in the future, ebooks will be mainstream and paper books will be for the wealthy. It will have nothing to do with what we like or prefer, it will be totally due to environmental issues. At the moment, we have a choice and I don’t expect that to change in the near future, but it will change.

Anyway, this coming week is “Read an Ebook Week” and I encourage everyone who hasn’t tried reading an ebook to rectify that over the next seven days. Ebooks can be read on your computer using applications made by Kindle, Stanza and other companies promoting digital printing. You can also read them on your iPhone, iPod Touch and of course the iPad. I believe other phones also have the ability to read ebooks too. And of course you can purchase ebook readers of all sizes as well. So, with all this in mind, there are plenty of options and no excuses. Read an ebook this week and see what you think.

If I haven’t sold you on the idea yet, here’s an added bonus. Ebooks are generally sold cheaper than their paperback equivalent. In fact, it’s through purchasing cheap ebooks that I’ve discovered some excellent new authors. This week Smashwords is having a “sale”. Hundreds of authors are slashing their prices, some are even offering their books for free, but the sale is only happening this week to celebrate “Read an Ebook Week”.

My book, The Land of Miu, is FREE!

Whether you grab a copy of The Land of Miu or not isn’t relevant. Of course, I’d be thrilled if you do and would be forever grateful if you also wrote a quick review over at Smashwords too 😀 (OK, I’ve finished with the shameless self-promotion stuff now). What I’d really like to see (and hear about) is more people trying ebooks and letting me know what you think. What I’d also like to hear about is have your opinions changed towards ebooks over the years. I know mine have!

Read an ebook this week. I think you’ll be glad you did. 🙂

It Is Just a Dream

This is a post I wrote for somewhere else and decided as it deals with my life right now, I’d cross post it by putting it here also.

What exactly is a dream? According to Wikipedia

Dreams are a succession of images, ideas, emotions and sensations occurring involuntarily in the mind during certain stages of sleep. The content and purpose of dreams are not yet understood, though they have been a topic of speculation and interest throughout recorded history.

I haven’t had a nightmare in a while, which is a good sign I suppose. Yet last night, the demons took hold and I dreamt of Barry (my son, who passed away in 2006), of murder, of evilness and of adandonment. The bad things were all done by me and Barry (even though he was only a child of about three in the dream) was angry at me.

In the dream it was a hot, humid night. The house was filled with people I didn’t know, except for Barry. He was a child wearing winter PJs and was soaking wet from sweat. I offered to find him a pair of cooler, summer pyjamas but he declined the offer…curtly, he was angry with me. Feeling uncomfortable myself, I left Barry to fix himself supper, I went off to find something cooler to wear and whilst changing discovered explosives fixed to the windows. I raced to other rooms and found those windows laced with explosives too. Several men in dark clothing were working on the front door and windows (fixing explosives to them too). They spotted me and in a burst of confusion I found myself armed with a long, sharp knife which I deftly punched into the stomach of one of the men, aiming upward at the heart. He died. I was quick to do the same to the second man and then I ran out the door and attacked the third man. However, the third man was holding a hand grenade between his teeth and the pin had been pulled. I watched it roll slowly down his body and along the ground towards me. I pushed it away and turned to run, knowing that when it went off it would set the explosives off and the entire house would explode. Suddenly, I’m no longer running, I’m crawling away (apparently injured) and my last thought was Barry’s inside the house.

I woke up.

I felt confused, upset and depressed. However, that wasn’t the worst of it. I woke up feeling as if I had let Barry down…again!

That feeling made me cry.

I sat on the edge of the bed and apologised to my son. “How could I be such a terrible mother to let you down so often?”

I know it’s just a dream. I also know that the dream isn’t even about Barry, it’s about me. The anger he felt is my own guilty conscience. That is something I’ll have to learn to live with. However, what about the other stuff? What does that mean? Perhaps it means nothing, but where did it all come from? I certainly don’t go around murdering people on a regular basis (in fact, never!) so why have I dreamed these disturbing scenes.

The Dream Moods Dictionary informs me of the following:

Dreaming of murder means:

To dream that you have committed a murder, indicates that you are putting an end to an old habit and a former way of thinking. This could also refer to an end to an addiction. Alternatively, the dream indicates that you have some repressed aggression or rage at yourself or at someone. Note also that dreams of murder occur frequently during periods of depression.

Well, I know I’m not “putting an end to an old habit” or way of thinking. And there’s definitely no addiction to end. So I have to concede that I have “repressed aggression or rage” and depression is something to consider also.

Dreaming of explosions mean:

To see explosions in your dream, symbolize your repressed anger. The rage that you have been holding in has come to the surface in a forceful and violent manner. Your unconscious is trying to get your attention.

I didn’t dream of an explosion, I dreamed of an upcoming explosion. The meaning is exactly the same as murder reiterating the fact that I could be filled with repressed anger. Doesn’t sound good!

Dreaming of sweating means:

To dream that you are sweating, suggests that you are experiencing some overwhelming anxiety, stress, fear, or nervousness in your life. This dream may serve to remind you that in order to achieve success, you need to endure the struggle and efforts that go along with success. Alternatively, sweating signifies a kind of cleansing or ridding of bad karma. You may be going through an emotional cool-off period.

Actually, I do feel highly anxious and stressed at the moment as I started a new job three months ago.

Dreaming of injury means:

To dream that you are injured, suggests that you need to work on healing old wounds and hurts. You need to stop and slow down. Consider where or how you were injured for further significance.

To dream of abandonment means:

To abandon others in your dream, suggests that you are overwhelmed by the problems and decisions in your life.

The fact that I abandoned Barry in the dream is what is causing me the most pain. There’s no excuse. He’s my child and I should have gone into the house to get him, even if it meant certain death for both of us. I feel quite strongly about this and that’s why I feel I’ve let him down again. Yes, it was only a dream, but still…

And lastly, to dream of anger in a dream means:

If you dream that someone is angry at you, then this means that you either suspect that the person in real life is angry at you, or you have that particular paranoia.

The dream was clear. I was not angry at Barry, he was angry at me. Now the question is: Is he really? It brings tears to my eyes just typing the question. Is Barry angry with me? Is the guilt I carry justified? I suppose I’ll never know.

Dreams are meant to be about us, about how we feel and what we’re going through in our life. It’s not about the person/people we are dreaming about. If we dream about another person it’s because we are worried about them, we carry guilt about them, maybe even hatred towards them. It’s complicated. But dreaming is about us, not them.

Strangely, after several hours of pondering the dream I believe it mainly stems from my new job. The job is mentally exhausting, some of the “policies” go against what I believe in, and I’ve had a particularly difficult time grasping every aspect of the job because it is complex. As a result I feel confused, anxious, stressed and, yes, even angry to a certain extent.

But why did I dream of Barry? Why did I abandon him? In truth, Barry’s role in the dream felt misplaced, contradictory. If he hadn’t been in the dream it would be easier to ignore…

And maybe that’s the key. Maybe that’s exactly why he was in the dream. I could easily ignore the dream as being “just a dream” if it wasn’t for his role. Is it possible that my subconscious is telling me to take better care of myself? Is my body telling me I’m heading for a period of depression and anxiety unless I find a way to deal with the situation? And did Barry force himself into my dreams to reiterate the warning?

I don’t know what it all means. I do know I sound like a raving idiot, but the truth is my life is stressful at the moment and I believe I need to listen to the warning and be careful in the immediate future that I don’t “crack”.