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Month: December 2015

Weekly Quote #27

“It is a most mortifying reflection for a man to consider what he has done, compared to what he might have done.” (Samuel Johnson, in Boswell’s ‘Life of Johnson’)

“Success isn’t a result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire.” (Arnold H. Glasow)

No excuses in 2016, you hear me? Do the thing, and work towards it a little every day! That dream you have? That thing you want to achieve? No one will just hand that to you! Go get it, and be proud of yourself and your hard work!

I don’t want to hear complaints next year that you wish you’d done the thing, okay? Stop dreaming and do it.

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There’ll be no more weekly quotes from January.

For more weekly quotes, check out this page here.

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Favourite Reads From 2015

It’s been a great year for reading. I don’t think I’ve ever read as many books in one year as I did this year, and next year it’ll get even better! Since I’ve gotten a Goodreads account my to-be-read pile has stacked up immensely, and I’m really excited for everything that’s waiting for me on there.

There were a lot of great reads over the past twelve months, and since 2015 is coming to a close I thought now was a good time to share my favourite reads with you.

In no specific order:

Summer Reading List Stardust

I’m so glad I finally read a book written by the legend himself! It was everything I’d hoped for and more, cliche as that might be. There was magic, the storytelling was incredible, and it’s left me wanting to read more next year.

Review

Summer Reading List The Falcon Throne

Karen Miller has been one of my favourite authors for years, and her most recent book has somehow stepped up her game even more. It had everything you’d want from an epic – love, magic, murder, betrayal and deceit – and I can’t recommend her enough.

Review

TheTimeKeeper

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I came across The Time Keeper in my library. It was short and I wanted something to read on my lunch breaks, but I didn’t expect it would make me cry on said lunch breaks! (pasta does taste better with happy tears!) It won’t take you long at all to read through this, and it’ll be worth it. Just have some tissues handy. And maybe some chocolate.

Review

Summer Reading List Fiendish

I’ve never hated a villain as much as I hated this one. If he went and burnt in hell, it wouldn’t be punishment enough for this filthy excuse of a human being. Needless to say, I felt for the main character, a lot, and if you read this it’ll be an emotional ride!

Review

Summer Reading List Evo Nation

Twists at every turn and knowing that you can’t trust anyone to be one of the good guys make this an amazing read. The characters were great and the way it ended has me excited for EVO Shift. Just don’t get attached to people, okay?

Review

TG3

Terry Goodkind is another one of my favourite authors, and I was thrilled to find out that I wasn’t done with this series after all! It had creepy shadow hounds and a machine which seems to be alive and I couldn’t wait to start the next book, so I’m reading that right now! If you start a new series next year, make it this one.

Review

What were your favourite reads this year? Is there anything you’d like to recommend?

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For all other book reviews, please take a look here.

For all of my other musings, click me!

For Cookie Break’s home page, have a look here.

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10 Minutes – Alive

“Hey, Janey.”

I forget how to speak. This can’t be happening, he can’t be here. After all those years of searching, he just turns up now and expects to walk back into my life? Don’t I deserve an explanation? A reason?

“Don’t hey me.”

“What’s with the attitude? I thought you’d be thrilled to see me!” Five years ago he would have been right. Five years ago I would have given anything to see his handsome brown eyes again, or the way his dark hair fell just into his left eye. Hearing his voice one more time was all I had preyed for, five years ago. The chance to say goodbye. The opportunity to demand a reason.

He asks me now what my attitude was for? Where should I even start?

“Fuck you, Jake! How dare you just walk in after everything you’ve put me through? What’s with my attitude? Fuck! You!”

He grabs my wrist, and pulls me into his arms. The past seven years don’t seem to have done him any favours. Wherever he’s been, he’s stayed fit but he’s not as strong as he used to be and I manage to wriggle myself out of his prison.

“Whoa, what’s the matter with you, Janey? I kinda expected a warm welcome after all these years!” How dare he sound hurt! What gave him that right?

“A warm welcome? Are you nuts? We thought you were dead, Jake! I had to arrange a funeral without knowing if I was doing the right thing! We gave up searching for you, because we thought you were gone! We held a damn funeral, Jake, without your fucking body! And you just turn up at my house, asking me what my problem is?” Tears sting my eyes and blind me. Just to be save, to stop him from pulling me into his arms again, I take a few steps back. If he wants to follow me he doesn’t, but I know he’s watching me.

“I’m sorry, baby. I meant to call, I really did, but-”

“You meant to call? you disappeared, the best search teams couldn’t find you, and you meant to call? Screw you, Jake!”

He sighs. He always does when he’s desperate for me to believe him, and I be damned but a too-large part of me actually does.

“I’m really sorry. You have no idea what it’s been like. I’ve sent you letters and post cards to let you know I was all right. Didn’t you get any of that?”

Hurting deeper than I did the day we buried his empty coffin, I shake my head.

“What are you talking about?”

This time when he pulls me into his embrace I allow it. I need the comfort as much now as I did five years ago, only this time he’s here to give it.

“I’ve sent you so many messages. Are you saying you got none of them? I even sent a few friends, people I trusted, to come see you. Did Blake not show up? Or Jim? I even sent Gabriella to let you know I was save.”

My heart pounding from fear more than anything I shake my head again. I knew these people, years ago. They were relibable, good people. Why didn’t they come to me?

“Shit. That’s not good. I haven’t seen them since I sent them after you. Gabriella was the only one who let me know why she wouldn’t come back. She said she was going back to her kids, in China.”

I nestle myself into his chest, too scared to consider the implications.

“I’m sorry, Jake. I’m so sorry. Of course I’m happy to see you. It’s just a big shock, is all.” He nods, and I hold onto him like the ground would swallow me whole if I didn’t.

I jump when someone knocks at the door.

“No one knows I’m here, right?”

“How would they?” I ask, sounding more venomous than I meant to. “I didn’t even know you were coming.”

“Shit. Hide. I think they’ve found me.”

I shake my head. Whatever happened seven years ago, it wasn’t going to happen again. I was not going to lose him a second time.

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All of my 10-Minute stories are improvised, unplanned, and unedited apart from spelling and grammar mistakes. The idea is to kick-start the dreaded Monday with a short, creative exercise without thinking about it, and simply writing for the sake of writing.

For all other 10-Minute shorts, take a look here.

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Weekly Quote #26

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.” (John F. Kennedy)

“Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity… it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” (Melody Beattie)

“Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.” (Buddha)

Continuous health issues/confusions, far too many visits to the doctor this year alone and a strained relationship with my parents and family aren’t the only things in my life. There’s an awesomely amazing boyfriend, a loving/smothering cat and the perfect house, too – never mind the welcoming writing community and all my writing/blogging friends I’ve met this year! And a great job I enjoy! Yes, some things went wrong this year and I cried more often than I’d care to admit, but I’ve got nothing to complain about!

What better time to be grateful and appreciate what we have than Christmas? It’s easy to forget what we’ve already got and how good our lives actually are when things go wrong. Sickness, accidents, and unemployment are good examples for things which can make us forget everything we do have. If you’re struggling to find a job, maybe you’ve got a loving family and friends behind you. If you don’t have a family or a large circle of friends, at least you’ve got a roof over your head and bloody internet access! And don’t lie to me, if you can’t access the internet how are you reading this, hm? At a friend’s place? At your Mum’s? Well, there you go, then.

It’s easy to forget the things we should be grateful for and take them for granted instead, and Christmas is a great time to reflect. There’ll always be something that goes wrong, but something else will go well, too. And if it doesn’t go well today, maybe it will tomorrow.

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There’ll be no more weekly quotes from January.

For more weekly quotes, check out this page here.

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Review: The Omen Machine by Terry Goodkind

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The Omen Machine by Terry Goodkind

“An accident leads to the discovery of a mysterious machine that has rested hidden deep underground for countless millennia. The machine awakens to begin issuing a series of increasingly alarming, if minor, omens. The omens turn out to be astonishingly accurate, and ever more ominous.

As Zedd tries to figure out how to destroy the sinister device, the machine issues a cataclysmic omen involving Richard and Kahlan, foretelling an impending event beyond anyone’s ability to stop. As catastrophe approaches, the machine then reveals that it is within its power to withdraw the omen . . . In exchange for an impossible demand.”

I shall be careful not to give away too much. If you do decide to read any of the ‘reviewed’ books I wouldn’t want to spoil the ending for you, or give away any other major plot twists, so I’ll try to be as vague as possible. However, these won’t be completely spoiler free so if that bugs you stop reading here.

What I thought:

Imagine my surprise earlier this year when I realised that I wasn’t done with this series after all! I loved all the previous books including all prequels, so of course I added it to my to-be-read pile immediately.

The Omen Machine begins a new plot line after the last one finished in Confessor, and it comes with some creepy new crawlers to boot! There’s something unsettling about the idea of shadows watching you sleep and potentially tearing you to shreds at any given moment.

As the blurb above states, a machine is unearthed (literally, it was hidden and buried pretty well) which spits out omens. Unlike the prophecies which have been a big part of the previous books, these omens are very specific and come true within a short period of time. The most interesting factor for me was that the machine seems to be alive, in a sense, and is replying directly to Richard which implies that maybe the machine is more than a, well, machine. Not all questions were answered in this book and I’m dying to find out more in the next book. Dying, I tell you!!

The plot I loved, and the possibilities for the next book in the series have me excited to start reading, but I felt like the writing itself had taken a step back, as had the characters themselves. Has Zedd – or any of them, for that matter – always been so slow to grasp simple concepts? Why do we need to spend several pages discussing the obvious? Why did Richard have to explain to Zedd how a Confessor’s power works? The man knows! Maker, he’s known for longer than Richard but for some reason it had to be explained to him. So I don’t know what happened but the characters were smarter before. I’m sure they were. There were also some unnecessary repetitions, but overall there were so few that it didn’t ruin anything too much. It just put a damper on things here and there, especially the repetitive explanations. Or maybe I’ve become too critical since I started editing my own book? I should probably ease off a little.

Don’t get me wrong, though, it was a good book with a great plot and I’m not about to stop reading my way through this series now. It was a great read which I devoured, but it does feel like he could have done better and has done better in the past.

Then again, the man has written 17 books in this series. They can’t all be as awesome as the first, and given that this is only the second I had any issues with I can’t really complain. Even with its faults it was still amazing.

If you haven’t started this series already, start it now. This is the first book, and Wikipedia has a recommended reading order including prequels. You’re welcome 🙂

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I don’t review books professionally, neither do I get paid for it. These reviews are mainly a small summary and my opinion on books I’ve loved, they are not intended to be anything more. All ‘reviews’ include a picture, title and name of author linking to the book’s Amazon listing, the blurb from the back of the book and my non-professional verdict.

For all other book reviews, please take a look here.

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10 Minutes – Angel

Her feet were hurting from walking all day in the cold snow. It was just getting dark outside, the warm lights from nearby houses made the cold street look like a warm blanket, come to hug her better. If she focused on the soft orange glow illuminating the night she could almost feel the soft touch of a mother’s hand to her skin, the playful nudge of a sibling’s punch to her arm, or the proud smile of a loving father as he scooped her into his arms.

Almost, but not quite. The pain in her feet was too strong and too blistered for her to fool herself. She was alone, with no family left and no friends to keep her company.

She made her way through the lit streets, their light welcoming visitors and inviting them to stay for a while, until she reached the filthy alley beyond. The same alley which had been her home for the past four months. The same alley which would likely always be her home, now, unless she died of hunger or the freezing cold first. Looking at her feet now and feeling her stomach begging for food she hoped it was the latter.

She pulled her arms around her legs and drew them in tight. A hot tear rolled down her cheek, spreading the first warmth in months on her face.

In the distance, excited barking echoed. She loved dogs, but her parents had never allowed her one. They hadn’t allowed her anything, had blamed her for everything. When they had blamed her for her brother’s death, too, she had walked out one night and hadn’t returned. Her feet had carried her far, across the countryside as well as through cities, until she was finally sure that no one would recognise her. Just in case her parents were looking for her after all. By the lack of posters or overheard snippets of conversations she knew that no one was searching.

The barking grew louder, soon followed by sudden bursts of panting. Moments later a young Rottweiler – barely older than a puppy – burst into her alley, his tail wagging and his eyes fixated on her. He invited her to play, and began whining when she didn’t respond.

“Angel! Get back here, right now!”

The voice didn’t sound all that angry, she thought. It was worried, and distant. Angel didn’t leave her side, and rubbed his head against her waist, trying to get under her arm.

Footsteps.

“There you are! What were you- Oh, shit! Mike, there’s a girl here! I think she needs an ambulance!”

More footsteps; arms around her waist.

“Shit! Hang on.”

Soft arms, like those of her mother, scooped her up and held her close. It was the best comfort she had received since she had run away.

“Stay with me, sweetheart. Help is coming.”

She wanted to believe it. But when had that ever been true?

 

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All of my 10-Minute stories are improvised, unplanned, and unedited apart from spelling and grammar mistakes. The idea is to kick-start the dreaded Monday with a short, creative exercise without thinking about it, and simply writing for the sake of writing.

For all other 10-Minute shorts, take a look here.

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Progress Update – Last Update of the Year!

This week has been an interesting one. There’s been so much to do before I take a break after today (meaning yesterday, meaning Thursday) that I’ve barely gotten any editing done – but more on that in a moment. Besides Christmas Prep (of which there was plenty) I also wanted to schedule all posts on here, so I don’t have to worry about anything while on my Christmas break.

Monday and Tuesday were spent doing just that – wrapping presents, one job application which took up the whole morning, writing more Christmas cards, preparing updates on here, and of course I had my usual Monday 10-Minute posts to do as well – which, by the way, you guys really blew me away this week with your comments and you all made my week <3 If you haven’t read this week’s post already, you can do so here.

On Tuesday I asked for your opinions on what makes a book great and what puts you off, and I’ve had some great, useful feedback. I’m sorry I haven’t been able to reply yet – some of your comments are very detailed (thank you!!) and I want to be able to respond properly to everything you’ve said. If you haven’t told me yet what makes a book a success or a failure in your opinion, you can do so here if you’d like to.

mascot 2
The mascot was doing what she does best getting in the way while looking cute

Wednesday was the first only day this week I got any editing done. I’ll do some more today but I got nothing done on Thursday so it’s been a pathetic week for editing. There’ll be no more until January, which makes my fingers twitch already. On the plus side, Cookie Break is all prepped and will continue posting over the Christmas Break, and into January! I’ll pop in here and there as well to reply to comments and see what you guys have been up to 🙂

I’ve had loads of ideas for the two sequels this week, and can tell you this- it’ll be a dark ride. A very dark ride. And then there’s the prequel I’m talking myself into… But it’s far too early to say anything more specific on that 😉 Notes have been taken. Be prepared.

Now, as I’ve mentioned before there’ll be no more Weekly Quotes and 10-Minute shorts come January. While Wednesdays will stay free for whatever else pops up I’ll replace the usual Monday posts with this:

642Prompts

You probably won’t remember but a few months ago I bought this genius little book full of writing prompts, and that’s what I’ll be posting every Monday from January! Due to the space available in the book some posts will be quite short while others will be a fair bit longer, but I thought it’d be a fun way to mix it up a bit 🙂 I’ve scheduled the first two posts already and hope you’ll enjoy them as much as I have so far. I’ll be posting the prompts themselves as well so if you want to borrow any, go right ahead 🙂

 

Now, to the editing part of the week… It was pretty pathetic. I did two chapters in total, but sadly that was all I had time for. Honestly, I’m just glad I got this much done even if it looks like I haven’t touched it at all since last week. I was wondering about including a picture but since it’s changed so little from last week I wasn’t sure it’d be worth it. I’ll throw myself into it in January and would like to have gone over the second printed draft by the beginning of February, but we’ll see.

Onto the excerpt! But before that – Have a great Christmas, everyone! Enjoy all the food and the love, and thank you to everyone who’s made CookieBreak the amazing experience it’s been so far. I’ll see you all next year 🙂 (and what an exciting ride that will be!)

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‘We need to go. Get up.’

‘What do you-‘

‘Up. Now.’ Her intuition had saved her life many times. If it told her to run now she would run as fast as her split feet could carry her. She knew places in this town most people wouldn’t dream to go. Blackrock held no secrets for her. She had come to know all its shadows, all the tight alleys only children who were on the brink of starvation could fit through. All the small characteristics only someone who had to fend for herself out on the streets would know about.

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All content belongs to the author, Sarina Langer.

For all previous updates on Rise of the Sparrow‘s progress, click me!

For Cookie Break’s front page, take a look here.

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5 Things I've Learned About Cartography

If you’re writing a fantasy novel then a map depicting your world is a must – both for you and your reader – but if you’ve never done this before you might not be sure where to start.

When I first contacted MonkeyBlood Design to work on my map I had no idea what I was doing, or whether my terrible sketch would even be good enough for them to work with! Turns out, they don’t even always get a sketch (and more power to all cartographers for working with nothing but a description!).

Here are 5 things to consider before approaching a cartographer-

 

1) They’ve seen everything, from an already beautifully drawn map to a brief description of the world/ country/ dungeon/ city/ whatever you need, so chances are your rough sketch is good enough as well. Don’t worry if it isn’t perfect – hey, at least you’ve got a sketch!

Map of Rifarne Draft 1
This was the sketch I sent to MonkeyBlood Design – not very detailed and only including the essentials, plus a description of where forests or farmlands would be.

2) Google Maps is your friend. Some people like to take inspiration from our planet, and begin by copying the outline of a country they particularly like, or that they think roughly matches their country’s outline and then they change it up from there. More than that, it’s a great source for distances! It can be difficult to know the distance between two places you made up, or how long it would take to travel there (don’t forget that you probably have more than two places and it eventually gets complicated). Find two places on Google Maps which are as far away from each other as you want yours to be. Google Maps can tell you the distance in miles, as well as how long it would take to travel there on foot, by car, by train, by bike and by plane! It’ll give you a better idea, and it’ll help the cartographer scale the map.

MapExamples
GoogleMaps can tell you how long it takes to walk somewhere – massively useful when planning journeys in your novel!

3) Be flexible and expect some changes. If your mountain range is geographically impossible, it’s geographically impossible. Unless you’re okay with people not believing you, that’s something to avoid. If you’re writing a fantasy novel than you might be able to explain impossible features (like upwards flowing rivers or floating hills) with magic, but I wouldn’t recommend you do it all the time. No matter how fantastical your world is, it needs to be believable or your readers will have a hard time following you.

4) You don’t need to name every town, farming community, city, river and mountain. It’ll only get confusing for your readers if you do, and it’ll offer too much information. When I read a book and use the map for reference I don’t want to have to spend ages trying to figure out where Jaqueline is right now. Name the important places your characters go to, even if that means only naming two towns, one hut by a river and a cave. Your readers will guess that there are other places in your world, too, so don’t worry about your map looking empty.

Likewise it might be tempting to include a full world map in your first book, even though your character doesn’t leave the county once. Again, you don’t want to overwhelm your reader. Show them the part that’s important, and keep the rest for later. For example, Rifarne is a small part of a much bigger map. If I were to include the whole world map in the first book you’d have a hard time making out the few places that are important for Rise of the Sparrows.

5) Colour looks amazing, and you want one. I understand. I did treat myself to a colour version of Rifarne, after all, but colour maps tend to be more expensive. If you’re on a budget you can save a lot of money by only ordering a B&W version, although of course costs vary depending on who you work with. Monochrome is likely all you need for your novel – most fantasy books don’t include a full colour version – so it’s not necessary to go all out.

RifarneMapColour

RifarneMapMonochrome
I don’t know, I love them both.

Are you a cartographer and would like to add something? Have you worked with one before and have learned something valuable? Are you new to all this and have some questions not answered above? Please leave a comment below.

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For all of my other musings, click me!

For Cookie Break’s home page, have a look here.

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Weekly Quote #25

“I’m tough, I’m ambitious, and I know exactly what I want. If that makes me a bitch, okay.” (Madonna)

“Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.” (Judy Garland)

Today there’s just a small reminder to be yourself, and do what you want with your life. Stand up for yourself, fight for the things you want, and don’t let yourself down. Receiving praise of any kind will mean so much more if you’ve done what you love, not what somebody else thinks you should do.

I’m not saying it’ll be easy all the time but nothing ever is, and at least you’ll know that you’ve gotten through things yourself, as yourself. It’ll be worth it.

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There’ll be no more weekly quotes from January.

For more weekly quotes, check out this page here.

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