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Author: sarinalangerwriter

Review: The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom

TheTimeKeeper

The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom

“Banished for centuries, as punishment for trying to measure time, the inventor of the world’s first clock is finally granted his freedom, along with a mission: a chance to redeem himself by teaching two people the true meaning of time.

He returns to our world and embarks on a journey with two unlikely partners: a teenage girl who is about to give up on life and a wealthy, ageing businessman who wants to live for ever. To save himself, he must save them both.

Gripping, and filled with deep human truth, this unforgettable story will inspire readers everywhere to reconsider their own notions of time and just how precious it truly is.”

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:

Like most other books these days I came across this one in the library where I work. The description on the back sounded interesting but it didn’t prepare me for the actual story. I cried. At work. On my lunch break, yes, but at work! Thank God no one saw.

As the summary above states, The Time Keeper follows three people – Dor, the first person to measure time who was punished for his actions by God; Sarah, a teenage girl who resorts to suicide when the boy she loves doesn’t return her feelings; and Victor, a highly successful businessman who is dying of cancer and wants to find a way to cheat death.

Dor is the first person to measure time, and even comes up with the first calender. When his wife lays dying of sickness he wants to ask God to give him more time with her, but God punishes him for trying to measure time and locks him in a small cave with no way out. Within the cave Dor hears the pleas for more (sometimes less) time of everyone in this world, and unknowingly he becomes known as Father Time.

When Sarah and Victor are about to consider drastic measures themselves – Sarah contemplates and finally attempts suicide and Victor wants to freeze himself to outlive his cancer until a cure is found – Dor is sent into their lives to help them realise what he himself has realised while being imprisoned in the cave: the reason God has numbered our days and why life is worth living until the end.

I loved the book the whole way through, but when I came closer to the end and Dor showed Sarah and Victor the consequences of their drastic actions I cried. At work. On my lunch break, yes, but usually people pop into the kitchen for tea or a snack and am I ever glad no one came in while I was wiping my tears away! There’s a beautiful, thought-provoking message at the end, and even a happy ending for those of you who love those (like me).

This book is very much worth your time, but if you haven’t got a lot of that to spare be assured it’s a short book. I’ve started and finished mine on three lunch breaks, which is no time at all! (no puns intended each time I say ‘time’)

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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- Playing With Fire

Xolandor managed to jump out of the way just in time, as another very angry ball of fire sped straight past his head.

“Watch what you’re doing! You could have scarred my beautiful face!” Xolandor, as Prime Wizard, had had many apprentices in his care over the last eighty years, but never one as inept at casting simple magic spells as young Borvin was.

“I’m sorry, Master, Xolandor! I’m so sorry!”

A year ago this Prime Wizard’s favourite staff had broken during a rather precarious experiment – the details of which he didn’t wish to discuss with strangers – and he had been lucky that the Blacksmith of Goldreach knew how to fix things like that. In his whole, long life Xolandor had never met a blacksmith who was quite as skilled at fixing magical items as Mr. Swifthammer was, and the good man had given him a discount, at that! Then, not one month ago, he had asked for a favour. Would Prime Wizard Xolandor not be able to take on his son, Borvin, as an apprentice? No one else wanted to give the lad a chance. Xolandor had trained many untalented wizards and sorceresses in his time, and hadn’t believed this one to be a problem, no matter the rumours. He also hadn’t believed he could be so wrong, but here he was, his face still hot from where the ball of fire had grazed his beard only seconds ago.

He mumbled something under his breath – something he really hoped the young lad didn’t hear – and nodded .”Try again. I’ll stand over here, and you try again.”

Borvin was trying, he knew, but if there was one thing he had learned in his life it was that often, simply trying wasn’t good enough. You had to do to get anywhere, and it was a sad fact that young Borvin wasn’t very good at actually doing.

This time, his ball of fire didn’t get near Xolandor. Rather, it was barely a ball at all. He could see on the lad’s face that he was focused, that wasn’t the issue. No, the issue was something else entirely, and it wasn’t something the Prime Wizard had ever come across. Given his long, well-spent life, this was saying something, and it was enough to peak his interest. It wasn’t laziness, for the lad was willing to work, and it wasn’t his lack of talent, not entirely. It definitely wasn’t newts, no mater how much Mr. Swifthammer insisted! Just why did people think that wizards and newts went together like- like – Xolandor couldn’t think of a comparison adequate enough. He hadn’t even worked with newts in over thirty years, they simply weren’t useful enough!

“Better, Borvin. Definitely… better.”

“You think so?”

He nodded, trying to think of a reason for this lad’s incredible lack of talent. It was there, somewhere in the back of his mind, but he couldn’t for the life of him remember where he had stored it. “Yes, my lad, you are getting there. Why not take a break? Make us some tea, we can talk universe theory while we sip away with some biscuits.” Borvin broke out into a grin, and hurried off to the kitchen.

Xolandor had never regretted taking on an apprentice. He sorely hoped he wouldn’t come to regret this one.

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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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It's been a bit of a slow week…

Did I say out loud last week that I wanted to get to 20,000 this week? I did, didn’t I! Well, that wasn’t very sensible of me, was it! Not with the way things have gone this week!

There were a few obstacles this week but the main one was that I was on a very different work schedule, which meant that I lost my mornings. For someone who usually writes in the morning because she has no time in the evening that was a big loss. Then I had a birthday to prepare for (all done now!) and it really didn’t help when I had these other two ideas sneaking into my mind for completely different books. They only bugged me for one day and haven’t bothered me since, so hopefully they’ll let me focus next week. If they don’t I might have to get them out of my system, but we’ll see.

But! I did write a tiny bit. I didn’t get to the seven-something-thousand I had in mind, but I did manage 1054. Not great, not great at all, but it’s better than nothing. There’s been progress, and I now have a thousand words I didn’t have last week, so hey ho!

I’m relieved to be back on my normal schedule next week, let me tell ya!

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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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Why I Write

Last year I graduated from university with a BA honours degree in Photography. While I very much enjoyed my course I also very much enjoy writing. Below are four of the many reasons why I have chosen to write a book over locking myself away in my darkroom (seeing the sunshine we’re currently having isn’t listed but it’s definitely on my list!)

1) It’s therapeutic.

There’s something about writing which creates a bit of a paradox for me. It’s very frustrating at times, but it’s equally relaxing and refreshing. My mind tells me that those two can’t coexist, yet they do. I tend to try and focus on the relaxing part.

When I really focus on the writing and block out everything else time flies by. I know there are other things I should be doing, like the laundry or taking out the rubbish, but they are in some dark corner of my mind where they can’t distract me. Many psychologists use art therapy as part of their counselling sessions – I couldn’t paint if my life depended on it, but I enjoy writing, so writing it is!

2) It’s exciting.

Who doesn’t love creating new worlds, filling them with people and deciding what goes on in said worlds? In writing, especially in fiction and fantasy, anything goes. If I as the writer say that pigs actually can fly (with little cherub wings, which have different colours to reflect their personalities) or that flowers are tiny trees which haven’t grown up yet then that’s what’s happening. It gives you permission to go nuts and invent whatever you like, and because the writer explains the laws to go with it everything makes sense, too! (even if the law is simply ‘because’ – we can’t explain everything just yet, either, so who is to say that people in a fictional world have everything figured out?)

3) It’s habit. 

I know this isn’t a very good reason but I’m used to writing, and old habits die hard as we all know. When I was too young to read myself my parents read to me. After that I read myself a lot, usually every day, and eventually after that I started writing. I think I wrote my first short stories (think half an A4 page long in font size 12 and up) before I was nine and have written since then. In recent years I’ve gotten used to writing every day – sometimes just a tiny bit, sometimes for several hours – and it always feels like something is missing when I can’t find the time for it.

4) It’s a way of giving back.

I have learned a lot from books. Whether it’s technical or theoretical or important values to being human, some books have taught me more than the people around me. To an extend I think that’s the whole point to reading – because the people you read about are brave and smart and have better morals in place than some of the people you meet every day. A small part of me wants to be them, or, failing that, adept some of their behaviour. When you read a book and you meet this fictional character who does something amazing and who you have come to admire it often makes you think ‘I wish I was more like that’. (or is that just me?) See that as a challenge, not as an unachievable wish. Who is to say you can’t be amazing? (unless magic is involved; we haven’t figured magic out yet)

I’d like to think that books have had a very positive influence on me, and writing myself is a way of giving back some of what they have done for me over the years.

Why do you write? It doesn’t matter whether it’s professionally or as a hobby, only your reasons for doing it are important. If you would like to share your reasons 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 #2

“When you’re at a dead end, you can’t see where you started. You look to the right and you look to the left and you have no options. You’re attached and estranged from your beginning. Then you look forward and there’s a wall.

This is the best place to be. It’s true in science, in business, in art and in love.

Why is this such a good place to be? Well, you cannot have a breakthrough without being at a dead end.

The breakthrough comes because you’ve exhausted all of your resources. And you know what? All breakthroughs happen in exactly the same way. There’s a wall in front of you and you have to break it. And all breakthroughs happen because of an act of faith.

You think to yourself, I’m gonna go back a bit… and I’m gonna crash through that wall. And you will. You’ll probably get cut, scratched… you might even tear your clothes a little bit.

The thing on the other side is a garden. And it is all there for you.

Hopefully, if everything goes right for you, you’ll hit another wall.” (from ‘shitmyphotoprofsays.tumblr.com‘)

This week it wasn’t easy to pick my favourite because I like a lot of the quotes from this specific site, but I eventually decided on a quote about the feared artist’s block and how to overcome it (sort of).

I came across this site a while ago while browsing facebook and have come back to it a couple of times since. I’ve found a lot of motivation and inspiration there, and hopefully it’ll do the same for you. All quotes are related to Photography but you can easily apply most of them to whichever at form you work in.

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For more weekly quotes, check out this page here.

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10 Vices of Writing

I’m reluctant to call these rules since sticking rules or laws to any art form has never seemed right to me, but for me at least these are words to live (and write) by, so there you go.
Please remember, however, that the following points are my own observations, and are not intended to be professional advice. They are how I do things, not how you need to do things.
1) Have fun!
The main thing to consider when writing is to enjoy it! If the writer isn’t feeling it, it will reflect in the writing, and that’s never worth it.
2) Write for yourself, not for us.

This might seem pretty logical at first, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past few years, writing casually, it’s that this is the first ‘rule’ that jumps out the window for me. I start writing for myself, then I start wondering about what my readers would prefer, and suddenly things get difficult to put into words.

Don’t think about what we want to read. Write something you’re excited about, and it’ll show in your writing.

3) Write a little everyday.

I know that not everyone has the time to write for hours each day, but it’s not always necessary. If you can’t make the time to write twenty pages today – we all have other responsibilies, after all – only write the one. Or half of one. Writing a hundred words a day is better than not getting anywhere at all, and it’ll help you stay focused on your story.

4) Plan ahead.

My first book had many flaws, but one of its many issues was that I had no idea what was going to happen and when. I got stuck so often I’m surprised I didn’t give up on the thing sooner.
Not everyone is good at planning ahead, but just knowing what your characters are going to do next will help you continue writing.
5) Take a notebook everywhere you go.
Ideas are great, but they don’t always co-operate. It doesn’t have to be a big A4 book you carry around with you, but the next time you’re on the bus and you get the best idea ever you’ll regret not having anything to write on with you. I know a lot of people just use their phones for this, but I’m old-fashioned that way. Honestly, you should see my notebook collection!
6) Don’t force it. Ever.

There’s one specific piece of advice I received in my first year of being a uni student. I was in the darkroom, trying to make this print work, but it just wasn’t happening. A third year student told me that sometimes, it’s just not happening. Forcing it will only get you frustrated and angry with your work, so leave it for the day, do something else, and then come back to it the next day.

I’ve lived by that advice since that day and it’s helped a lot, and has saved me a lot of nerves which would otherwise have died gruesome deaths.

7) Let the story change as you go.

I know I said to plan the whole thing in advance (and it does help!) but being too stubborn isn’t the right way to approach this, either. Yes, you want to have a plan, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t let your story evolve! And it’s very likely to evolve as you go, trust me. Let it.

8) Get your grammar right.

And your punctuation. I’ve started reading so many promising stories which I couldn’t continue because the grammar was appalling. And I don’t mean small things, like spelling November with a lower case ‘n’, but everything. Now, not everything has to go wrong in your story for it to become unreadable. Just a few repeated grammatical errors here and there can really make your story unbearably hard to read, no matter how good the actual plot may be. Have you ever read just one paragraph lacking all punctuation? It’s painful.

You also ruin your chances of getting published traditionally if you riddle your text with errors. No one is likely to give your book a chance if it takes them a while to decipher the first sentence.

9) Listen to feedback.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is ignoring feedback. I’ve learned this the hard way. Hopefully you won’t need to. Criticism is a bad word in the minds of most people, and it can be, but constructive criticism is a very good thing and you never turn your nose up at it. When you ask five people to read your book for you and four of them tell you that your punctuation needs work or that several paragraphs in chapter 5 don’t make sense, well, chances are they are right. I understand feeling protective of your book, your baby, but being too protective will take away so many wonderful opportunities.

You are biased when you read over this thing you’ve just spent months writing. No one else will have that same bias. Trust them when they tell you what doesn’t work.

10) Write first, then edit. 

I know it’s difficult at times to do this, and I’m guilty of it more often than I’d like to admit, but the editing can wait. When you write your first draft, don’t worry about whether it sucks or not. Don’t worry about whether you’ve just spelled the same word wrong again. Just focus on writing, and enjoy the process. Once the draft is finished you may edit – once you’ve had a small break from it to distance yourself a little, but before that it can wait. It’s very hard for the Writer to be an Editor while you’re still too close to the story. Get away from it for a while, come back to it, and view every last word critically.

But not before the draft is finished.

What are your vices? Is there anything I haven’t listed which you believe to be important? Please tell me what you think in the comment form 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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10 Minutes – Suicide Note

I remember when I first met you. It was raining outside; ‘the worst downpour of the year’, they had called it, and I had just missed my last bus of the day. I knew I probably shouldn’t have trusted you, but I didn’t have enough money for a taxi and I had no other bus to take me home. You were right there, offering me a lift home with that beautiful, sympathetic smile of yours.

“I’ve been in this position just last month” you told me. “Funny, isn’t it?”

I smiled, and against all better knowledge I came with you. Your wonderful smile had already enchanted me, blown all my reasoning away like it was weightless. Like it was the easiest task in the world.

Did you know, I was never afraid once on that car ride home. Neither of us really knew what to say. It was so awkward, wasn’t it? When I think back on it now I think I already had a feeling then that you were him. ‘The one’.

Mother was so mad at me when I told her what had happened. I should have called her, or father, or any one from my family. Anything would have been fine, as long as I hadn’t gotten into that car with you. She did get to like you, finally, once you’d met, but on that day she had a million reasons why I was the biggest idiot in the world, getting into the car with a stranger.

I remember the month after that. I didn’t miss my bus again, and made sure to always have enough money on me for the bus, in case I needed it. I didn’t, but somewhere deep down I was hoping I’d miss it. Lose my purse. Anything, as long as you would need to come and save me. At the time it wasn’t as obvious to me, but I was waiting to see you again.

And then, finally, we did. I almost didn’t see you until it was too late, but I spotted you amongst the crowd just in time. I ran, sprinting after you, and when I finally reached you I didn’t know what to say. Your face that day, my love, you should have seen it! You looked as dumbstruck as I felt. There you were, the only person I had wanted to see again.

You were kind, as nice as I remembered, and invited me to coffee. Then we made plans for lunch the following week, and I spent the entire five days in eager anticipation. Your features had burned themselves into my memory, and yet they never seemed clear enough until I saw you.

I’m glad we met that day, at the bus stop. Angry as mother was, I’m happy I missed my bus and got into a car with a stranger. I’m glad that strager was you. Thank you for finding me that day, in the pouring rain.

Thank you for the past thirty years. I’ll always love you.

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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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From Ashes

I have a confession to make. I’m not really just finishing the planning stage, like I said last week I was. This time last year I had just finished university, and a few months before that I had started writing this very same book. As it turns out, your final term at uni isn’t a good time to start doing that! (who’d have thought, right?)

Now, a year later, I’m settled with a part-time job and a routine and am in a position where I can pick this up again. Over the past twelve months my characters haven’t left me alone and this story is begging to be written!

So far, the total word count is 13.494 and the book will be titled From Ashes (unless I change my mind, that is – it is still early days!) Next week I’d like to get to 20.000, but I’ve got a birthday to attend so that figure might be ambitious. This week I’ve been busy preparing things for said birthday which is why I haven’t gotten much else done.

Have a lovely weekend, everyone! Until next week! 🙂

~Sarina

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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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When I Grow Up

A beautiful post I came across this morning, summarising perfectly what it feels like to be a writer! The insecurities, the fears, the “I love it so hard that it burns and sometimes I wonder whether it will consume me.” Perfectly said – I often wonder the same thing.

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Weekly Quote #1

“If confidence is one key to success, enjoying your work is another. Even more than confidence, the sense of excitement that accompanies being creative will spur you on. Just think of it as playing – you can do anything you want, go anywhere you like.” (from ‘Hegarty On Creativity – There Are No Rules‘ by John Hegarty)

I work in a university library, and every now and again I come across a treasure or two. I love that quotes can motivate us instantly, so from today I’ll be posting a favourite quote every week. This week I found my quote in a theory book on writing (I know, I’m not usually a big fan on books telling you how to write and the scientific approach to doing so, but this one caught my eye and turned out to be a light, entertaining read)

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For more weekly quotes, check out this page here.

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