Posts Tagged ‘reading’

Life has been, well, challenging in the past few months as I’ve had to catch the odd curve ball. Not that I’m complaining, really I’m not. But I am human and when times get a bit tough, you tend to reflect, question and ultimately take time out. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve been on a less than ideal ride lately, but I’m here and yes, I’m counting my blessings.

Taking time out to reflect is not such a bad thing because it can lead to renewal. One of the more positive outcomes recently has been a rediscovery of myself. It’s been a slow and painstaking process – not over yet I guess – but I’m re-emerging better than before. I’m remembering feelings and motivations from years ago, and as I plant my herbs in my garden in time for spring, I’m remembering the beauty of this world. And that there is new life around the corner.

So what do I want to do with my life? I reckon it’s a question we should ask ourselves often, and not just when we lose a loved one, have an emotional or health crisis or lose a job. We should ask that question every time we stop living in the moment and find ourselves going through the day to day motions without much joy or passion. If we are really living honestly, then making sure we are on track with whatever our purpose might be, and aiming for what makes us happiest, is what we need to accomplish. Not just putting one step in front of the other and being emotionally cut off from ourselves and others, day after day, month after month and God forbid, year after year.

If I had to put something out to the universe right now, it would be happiness for myself, my kin and my friends. And I don’t think it takes that much to be happy. Here are some rules that I’m ‘reflecting’ on at the moment, and even trying and retrying some of them out already:

  • Live simply, count your blessings, stay in the present and not the past or future.
  • Go outside and spend some time in nature. If you really listen, you can hear the connection between all living things.
  • Get a dog. They will be your best friend in the whole world.
  • Do what you love. That could be anything from cooking creatively through to spending time with friends. Doing what you love is not just a phrase associated with a career; it’s about how you live each day.
  • Connect and reconnect with old friends…after all, they’ve known you for a long time and likely you don’t have to pretend to be anyone but yourself.
  • Find your purpose. What makes you uniquely you? If you’re in a job where you’re not satisfied, find something else. Don’t waste your time stuck in a rut because time is precious and your lifespan is precious. No-one’s being granted extra time in that department as far as I can see.
  • Don’t put things off. If you want to get into a car and drive to a beach, then find time to do it.
  • Love yourself. You know what they say, if you don’t know how to do that, it’s an invitation for others to walk over you because your boundaries will be loose.
  • Make sure you’re loving others as well. Spread it round and see what comes back to you.
  • Say no more often. You’re allowed to do that.
  • And one of my absolute favourites, enjoy…no really enjoy, the thoughts, the talents and uniqueness of others. Whether that’s watching a great film, reading a wonderful book, or listening to someone else’s sheer brilliant thoughts, appreciate them for the great human beings they are. And on a universal level, the infinite capacity of human beings to be wonderful and inspiring.

So, armed with my little list, I will go forward, onwards and upwards and no doubt still catching the odd curved ball in the future.

Ps. I have started writing again, and am working on the remainder of my horror anthology ‘Evil Imminent’, before I start on my next full length novel. Yeah! (picture me doing a high 5 now)

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Everyone loves a good giveaway, something for free that they would normally have to pay for and that is of value to them. Every day, indie authors world over are giving away their writing for nothing. They do it to get better known, to boost the sales of their next book or simply because they have something to say they want people to read. The free read is a huge marketing tool, but has it worn out its welcome with readers, even if it is for free?evil_imminent_1_copy

Head over to Smashwords or peruse the list of Amazon’s Top 100 Free List and you’ll see no end to the books indie authors are giving away. Amazon’s Kindle Select built its once mighty monopoly on the benefit of Kindle Select to offer 5 days during an enrollment period when you can offer your ebook for free. Stories of tens of thousands of downloads in the early days of indie publishing guaranteed an author got known this way.

Well, we still do it. We still offer content for free and if you read most successful indie authors, they will tell you it is an effective way of getting known and of boosting sales of your next book, particularly if you are writing a series.

As a new indie author I found it initially painful to give my writing away for free, especially when you see the dollars going out in editing, graphic design and formatting services. And as a professional writer in my day job, there’s also time – my time at night away from my family is precious. However, as I discovered ways of doing things far more cost effectively, like learning to format myself or publishing ebooks only, it began to bother me less and less. What I did look forward to were the encouraging stats that told me readers were actually looking at my work.

But is it a valid marketing tool still? I guess for me as an indie author just starting out…I’ll tell you in a few more books time. By that I mean that there are millions of indie authors all swimming in the same sea and struggling with the number one problem: discoverability. If giving away a free book encourages readers to try your product, find they like it, and trust the quality you are producing, then all power to the freebie.

While I’m on the subject, a month or so ago I published the first story of my new horror anthology ‘Evil Imminent’ on this blog as a freebie. It attracted a good readership, and encouraged me to continue with my anthology. If you like horror and are a fan of the short read that won’t take too much of your time; that brings you full circle in a story quickly and leaves you nodding your head in understanding, and you like suspense and a bit of a shock, then Evil Imminent is for you. I’m hoping to launch it at the end of May 2014. Stay tuned. There might also be one more free read from the anthology in the coming weeks!

If you would like to contact me, head to the Contact Me tab on this blog, or leave a comment below. You’re always welcome.

three-trees-greyIt is sweltering here in Australia as we battle the hot days that sap our energy and motivation. It’s enough just to shut the blinds, turn on the fans and hope for the cool of the evening. Not that I’m complaining. I know only too soon that a slight chill will overlay the days and our thoughts will turn to fires, hot food and keeping the cold off our bones.

One of the best past-times in winter is curling up with a good book, under the covers and trying to keep your hands protected from the cold. A good book is one of the things that blocks out the world and takes over your thoughts. It creates a mini world from within which to look out; it subverts reality and that is sometimes good and often desirable.

But it does much more than that. Reading is an internal process and as we follow the thoughts, feelings and journeys writers create from their own minds, it allows us to broaden our thinking beyond our immediate environment and reflect. And after all, reflection is the baseline from which we can alter our thinking and make choices about how we want to act and react. Often reflection will prompt a large scale turnaround as a decision is made to start living life in a different way.

As a child I recall always asking for books for Christmas. What bliss. I would open them up with pure joy and appreciation, anticipating the wonderful reading experiences in front of me over the coming days. I would immerse myself in the adventures of heroes and heroines and dream my far off dreams of what my life might be like when I grew up.

And those horizons were realised as I travelled over the world and lived a nomadic life before settling down with a partner and children. But wanderlust never quite leaves one, does it?

It is getting close to a time for more adventures off the beaten track. As I curl up when the cold eventually does come, I will read and reflect and wonder what horizons lie beyond my winter book, beyond the confines of my bedroom, and grey clouded horizon over the hill from my home.

I remember reading the Book Thief, about 5 years ago. I’ve read since I was 8 or 9 years of age, starting on those childhood adventure series and then moving through to Hemingway in my early teenage years.  From imaginative adventure to gripping realism, I’ve traversed the literature landscape like an explorer climbing Mt Everest.

I’ve gone through my Charles Dickins stage, my DH Lawrence, my Virginia Wolfe and my Aldous Huxley stage. I’ve read Freud and Jung, and ploughed through the feeling words of the poets, empathising, agreeing and being emotionally moved.

I have been through my spiritual reading stage – the power of crystals, Mayan prophesies, ley lines, runes, tarot, psychic protection, chakra cleansing, mediumship, Indigenous culture, paganism, the Celtic book of dying even. And then there was Zen and Buddhism, Christianity and Paulo Coelho. Wherever my soulful life quest went, you could find me in a bookshop or library researching and following up that thirst for knowledge.

And during all that reading and all those years, I have never been moved to tears, until the Book Thief  and then I sobbed and sobbed with that book, and couldn’t stop for ages.

You can imagine my excitement when I read Markus Zusak’s blog and discovered they were making a movie of the Book Thief. I shared that post on my Facebook page with a mixture of anticipation, and something else.

You see the Book Thief also holds mixed memories. It was lent amongst my extended family and went missing. Around the family circle the question was asked: “Who has the Book Thief?” (it should have been Who is the Book Thief?). This went on for months and if it hadn’t got so bizarre it would have been funny.

The book could simply not be found. Some members were accusatory. “I bet so and so has it…” To cut a long story short, it was found in the end and in the possession of someone no-one had thought of, and the lender had simply forgotten they had passed it on.

I suppose that demonstrates the importance of a book – that it could be so precious, such a sought after possession, that it would cause such consternation. It also shows the level on which a good book can impact. Books can take you on a very private and personal journey that you end up ‘owning’.

My reaction to the Book Thief, and the controversy it ultimately caused within my extended family, only makes me like the book even more now. The one thing I have resolved to do is finally purchase my own copy. And not loan it to anyone, ever. Or maybe I will and simply buy another copy.

And what a marvellous thing that it has been adapted into a movie. I can’t wait for it to come out.

I have my second book coming out soon Dawn of the Shadowcasters via Lodestone Books, an imprint of John Hunt Publishing. It’s for young adult readers who like fantasy and adventure. However there are strong spiritual themes that set it apart from the average fantasy read. That’s because a little of my own spiritual quest has found its way into the pages. I hope you enjoy it when it comes out, which should be in the next few months.