Here, There and Everywhere

Archive for April, 2018

A Book’s Fate

51Lxqzd5JpL._SY346_Being Indie: A No Holds Barred Self-Publishing Guide for Fiction Authors by Eeva Lancaster. Reviewed by Gabriel Constans.

Ms. Lancaster states right up front that, “Books have a publishing standard, and Indie authors are accountable to their readers in making sure these standards are met or exceeded.” Being Indie explains how to meet that standard and provides steps for doing so. It also describes how to be a “savvy Indie author”, as opposed to simply getting your book published.

The author of Being Indie practices what she preaches. The book’s cover catches the eye, the layout and editing are well done, and the content very relevant. She also has an excellent on-line and social media presence. These are all aspects of being an indie author which are clearly defined and presented. This is an excellent resource for anyone considering, or in the midst of, publishing their own book.

There are three parts to this work. Part One (Pre-Publishing) includes sections on – From Manuscript to Book – The Editing and Proofreading Stage – What Type of Editor Do You Need? – How to Approach Cover Design – Book Design and Formatting – Fixed Layout or PDF. Part Two (Building Your Author Platform) has information on – Your Website or Blog – Guest Posting – Your Online Presence – Social Media Presence. Part Three (Post Publishing) is a recap of the first two sections.

What I appreciate most about Being Indie is the experience, and knowledge, the author has about the process and the honesty with which she speaks. There is no sugar-coating, or sells pitch, trying to get you to buy her products, or do it here way. Being an indie author takes a lot of hard work and diligence. Very few make a living doing so. Ms. Lancaster says, “Doing nothing, and leaving a book’s fate to the gods, will only ensure failure. It will not sell itself. No one will buy it if it’s less than a book should be. No one will notice it if it’s not attractive. That’s the reality. The sooner you realize this, the better.”

 

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Short Story With Sass

51U3PLJtrILThe Blind Seer: A Cindy’s Crusades Story by Susan Jean Ricci. Reviewed by Gabriel Constans.

This short story has everything one could ask for – a clever beginning, entertaining middle, and surprise ending. The Blind Seer combines romance, mystery, and that little something extra, that makes it stand out in this very difficult and crowded genre.

Cindy, and her husband, Jay, stop at an old clairvoyant machine (called Zola) on the Atlantic boardwalk for fun. The card they are given is not expected, and turns out to be disturbingly true. Within the confides of this first person account, readers meet Cindy and Jay’s dog, Phoebe; their motor coach, Snark Ark; and a young psychic named Sophie.

Here’s a line from the book that captures some of the thoughts Cindy has, as she tries to find out why her husband has become so quarrelsome, distant, and agitated. “I’m sitting in a strange haunted-looking house, inhabited by a creepy old man, a blind psychic, and an overly friendly cat.”

After reading The Blind Seer, by Ms. Ricci, I look forward to reading more of her work in the near future. You may want to consider doing likewise. If you do, you’ll be in for a well-crafted short that is told with understanding, love, humor, and a little sass.

 

 

One of the Best

51yHPujzv6LVersions of the Self by Christy Birmingham
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans

I’ve been very lucky to have come across a number of poetry collections lately that are very good, and this is one of the best. Versions of the Self wonderfully combines emotion, and self-awareness, with actions, objects, and the environment. It is an inner journey revealed externally, with strong ties between both.

The Serenade

I arose from within the crisp blue sheets and
I realized –
This is but one moment, in one day, in the
Midst of a path called alive.
I chose to serenade myself in a
Dance that swung me to center state, and
I shivered with fear as much as with
Contemplation, as thoughts gathered in a
Semi-circle to discuss the way my toes would
Look as I neared the end of the field.
I realized –
This is a chosen moment and that
The grass could be watered, and
I took one step, couled with one breath, in
The midst of a life I began to call my own.

The words move with perfectly weighted verbs, adjectives, and metaphors. Reading these poems feels like dancing, and exploring life and space, toe to toe with their creator. Here is another of Ms. Birmingham’s brilliant creations.

Gliding under Water

I am diving into the calm waters after the
Hurricane of your arms pulling at my feet,
And my toes are happy to move on their own now.

I am gliding under the waters, and my vision is
Remarkably clear, while my body washes with
Liquids that contain no mixture of you.

I am touching the pool’s bottom with my hand,
Happy for the cold feel of the cement,
Reassured by its stability and the lack of critical words.

I am lacking for nothing, I am drenched with relief,
I am swimming to the surface, and
Today is a celebration of freedom for my limbs.

The verses in Versions of the Self  are perfectly separated into different areas, such as, “The Self: I”, “Take Me There”, and “Other Self Loves”. Each section holds its own, and every poem in this collection is worthy of the space within which they have their being, and before the eyes of those of us privileged to read them.

The Art of Thinking

51M7PrIvLmL._SY346_Who Are We: Seeing Ourselves Through the Eyes of One Another by Hussam Atef Elkhatib, Ph.D. Reviewed by Gabriel Constans.

How we think about experiences, places, or situations, and what we are aware of when and while we do, provides infinite possibilities to see ourselves and connect with others, by seeing their perspective and conditioning. Who Are We looks closely at practically every thing in life that can, and does, contribute to and shapes, who we are, how we see the world, and why we react the way to do to what is before us. Dr. Elkhatib offers the means with which we may use this awareness to, “Guide our vision through the way we see things.”

Though many of the topics may seem obvious at first, I have never seen such an extensive collection, and discussion, of all the factors which shape who we are, and how we behave, in one place. Each area is looked at closely with short essay-type sections. To give an overview of what is offered, here are some of the chapters that are included: 1) When You Were Born 2) Where You Were Born 3) The Control We have over What 8) How We Are 11) The Reason Behind Everything 13) The Art of Thinking 18) Internal Influences 20) Our Perceptions 24) What We Believe 26) Seeing the Big Picture.

Here is an example of some of the thoughts within. Nothing new, but said simply and with insightful precision.

Seeing things the way they are enables us to accept reality and deal with it. It contributes to our peace of mind.

People are eventually the same. Some of the things they can control while other things they have no control over.

We are more alike than we are different, though it is in observing and studying the differences, and how our environment, home, country, beliefs, conditioning, thoughts, and actions create who we are, that we begin to see the basic humanity that runs through us all. When our minds are open, and we look at our thoughts, it provides the opportunity to also see ourselves through the eyes of one another and discover that who we are is always in relation to other people, things, and circumstances. Take the time to ask the question, and open the pages of Who Are We.

 

A Bear Adrift

41CFkTe7CPL.jpgSnugs the Snow Bear by Suzy Davies
Illustrated by Peter Hall
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans

A sweet children’s book (for ages 4 and up), with a lot of animal characters, nice people, and of course the star of the show, Snugs, the snow bear. Snugs is not necessarily a polar bear, though he is off-white and lives in Greenland.

Snugs is set adrift when the ice he is on has melted, and goes towards Iceland. On the way he is discovered by a boat (ship Prince Eleanore) and the crew and passengers help him out. It is here that he meets Carla and James, and their grandmother (Mrs. Merryweather) who live in the Isle of Wight (England).

Snugs the Snow Bear combines some beautiful events (the Northern Lights, and visiting sites in Iceland) with the realities of global warming and its effect upon humans, animals, climate and the earth in general.

At first, I was taken slightly aback by the animals (some magical moose, etc.) and people (including Captain LightOwler and Rosanne) being able to talk to one another, and understand each other, but after awhile that concern faded into the background and fit with them all having to live on the same planet.

Happy, Sad, Sane or Mad

31NGjf3JUDL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Clearer by Mark Shackleton
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans

I don’t pick up too many poetry collections, but am glad I did this time. Clearer is formatted to throw you off the usual reading pattern, with sentences split, separated, and spaced all over the page. It jars you into paying attention.

This short work by Mr. Schakleton supplies a cornucopia of opportunities to look at the dramas, roles, illusions, and so-called existence, we all share, with a different view. There is no denying the darkness, the “hellish” aspects of living, the depressing events that take place, but there is also something within which it is all contained.

Here is the one that touched me the most and helped me remember to not get caught in my own play. To pay attention to the script I’m writing, and realize it is all coming and going, and holding onto anything is impossible. Better to give it away moment to moment.

Don’t Buy It

Don’t buy into your own publicity,
everything is passing.
This thing you’ve found is not yours to keep,
it was given to be given away.

GET UP!

You may not be here tomorrow but tomorrow is another day.
You will never get away until you give it away.
You will never know the stars if you’re afraid to lose your way.

WAKE UP!

Don’t believe your own publicity.
Whether good or bad,
happy or sad,
sane or mad,
from start to finish it was someone else’s idea.

A Series of Events

51ABoAle4SLHope & Possibility Through Trauma by Don Shetterly. Reviewed by Gabriel Constans.

This is an insightful collection of essays, combined with a workbook and discussion guide, of how to live with hope and possibility after experiencing trauma. The trauma that Mr. Shetterly experienced was sexual, physical, and verbal abuse from his father and brother as a child. This trauma is spoken of briefly at the beginning of the book, but is not the focus of this work. It is primarily, and gratefully so, concerned with how we can heal, understand, and care for ourselves after having experienced such events.

“It is not a book with scientific facts and research,” states the author. “This book is about life and the struggles we face. It is also about the healing, hope, and possibilities that exist within us.” Some of the chapters included in this recipe for insight, and growth, are: “Self Acceptance”, “Rewiring the Brain”, “Personal Growth”, “Our body Connections”, “In the Moment’, and “Listening”. There are clear explanations of different issues that arise when we decide to stop running, or numbing, the pain of abuse, and a clear path on how to make it out of the valley of darkness and despair.

“Life is a series of events, choices, reactions, and growth. While one event can impact our future, it does not mean that it will control our future.” To take the step of acknowledging what has happened, can be terrifying, and the reality of not acknowledging what has happened, can fill one’s life with constant fear, anxiety, anger, and confusion. The author also speaks about healing the body, emotions and mind, by including body work, music, and affirmations. Some of the sections I found especially helpful were those that involved a guided relaxation exercise (body scan), how to calm one’s self, be mindful, and focus on the breath.

There is a lot of personal resonance with this book, and the author’s words. I have nine foster sisters that were all sexually abused in their biological families. Our adopted daughter experienced a variety of traumatic events with her birth family. I have written extensively about grief, loss, and trauma, and worked as a bereavement and trauma counselor with hospice, in hospitals, mental health facilities, prisons, and overseas with survivor’s of multiple traumas. Hope & Possibility Through Trauma, by Don Shetterly, is a welcome addition to the resources now available for those most in need of such sustenance, insight, and inspiration. Do not hesitate to get a copy for yourself or another.

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