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Fun Read/Melting Shadows by Rhea Rhodan September 19, 2017

Posted by heidi skarie in Book Review, Uncategorized.
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51JiFT1cPRLThe word that came to mind as I read Melting Shadows was fun. It has spunky dialogue, humor, a fantasy world that parallels this world, a touch of magic, simmering romance, quickly characters, danger, heroes, evil villains, smart women, and handsome men willing to die to protect the women they love.

 

The novel is great escape reading. Forget your to-do list and emerge yourself in this entertaining story where the answers to what’s going to happen in the character’s world lie in the OtherWhere where things reveal themselves before they happen here.

 

Prudence is a brilliant scientist working on a secret project for the government. She had a dark upbringing that caused her to be a recluse. She’s socially awkward and takes everything literally. Her project for the military has put her at risk and she’s taken to a safe house. There she’s shocked to discover the owner of the bunker, x-seal Max, looks just like the hero of her fantasy novels.

 

Max reluctantly gives Prudence shelter. Yet the “ice woman” he’s responsible for, is a mystery that he is more and more interested in unraveling– even to the point of invading her privacy.

 

I highly recommend this book to those who love contemporary romance with a touch of paranormal. Note: there is some adult content and a lot of swearing. The first part of the book mainly deals with the development of the relationship between Max and Prudence. The second part of the book speeds up when the bunker is breached by the enemies and danger erupts.

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Book review of Exit Five From Charing Cross by Valerie Keogh April 5, 2017

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51YvPr2Vz4LExit Five From Charing Cross by Valerie Keogh is told in first person. Jake Mitchell begins his story by talking about missed opportunities and wonderful lives almost lived. “A life like mine.” We find out he’s at work at his dream job where he’s worked eight years. He set out to be rich and achieved his goal. “money was God.” But now business has dried up and he’s struggling to hold on. He leaves work to meet his best friend Adam at a café at Charing Cross. Sitting outside the café, is a woman he’s instantly attracted to and hopes to see again.

 

After this initial opening Jake goes back in time and tells us how he met Adam, and then about his family. Over the course of the book we learn of the lies he told and how, once they were told, he had to keep lying to keep his secrets. One poor decision led to another as Jake set out to build a “wonderful life”. At the end of chapter four he says, “Didn’t know then, in my enthusiastic youth, that every little action, choice and deed had a consequence.”

 

What makes this book interesting is how we see the world through Jake’s eyes and hear his inner thoughts. We learn why he lied and what led to the destructive decisions he made.

 

The book was an enjoyable, quick read with a haunting quality to it. The story twists and turns in interesting ways and has a surprise ending. I reminded of the recent movie Gone Girl in that things are always what they appear.

 

I highly recommend it to readers who enjoy psychological thrillers. It’s well written with a strong plot and well developed characters.

 

Book review of The Immortal Life of Piu Piu: A Magical Journey Exploring the Mystery of Life after Death (Dance Between Worlds Book 1) January 25, 2017

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41fel8exsnlAfrican author Bianca Gubalke has written an uplifting visionary fiction novel about the journey of soul. It started out in the first chapter with Anata, a soul in the inner realms, talking to an elder about her next life. She’s picked a hard life for her spiritual advancement in a small village in Western Cape coast of South Africa. A place that is beautiful with numerous plant species, animals, mountains, and ocean.

The elder warned Anata that her memory of who she really is as soul will disappear so she can create a new life. She won’t remember her true home but will search for it.

In the second chapter, we met a little girl named Pippa and MadMax (a delightful talking cat). They heard a peep and find a little gosling on the ground. Pippa brought it into the house, determined to take care of the small, helpless creature. Thus begins the tale of Pippa, MadMax and her goose Piu Piu.

The story explored the loving relationship between humans and animals and included many beautiful photographs of plants and animals.

The novel had a powerful message because it delved into the spiritual realms and the longing of soul to return home in a time when many baby boomers are wondering what happens after they die.

In places, the story of Piu Piu, the goose, reminded me of Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Both birds long for freedom.

The book also reminded me of Oversoul Seven by Jean Roberts, which is about Oversoul Seven who runs three bodies at once in different times and places as part of his education.

I was exposed to the idea that soul takes part in choosing their next life in Dr. Michael Newton’s work Journey of Souls and Life Between Lives. Dr. Newton hypnotized people to take them back to their childhood so they could heal. Once when he hypnotized someone they ended up in the inner realm where soul goes between lives. After that Dr. Newton took many people back to their life between lives on earth and asked soul about their experience there.

In the Immortal Life of Piu Piu I was fascinated to see how Bianca was able to weave together the idea of soul living more than one life and choosing that life based on what that soul needed to learn for its spiritual growth. I especially enjoyed the action-filled second half of the book that shares the backstory of Poppa’s parents during a raging forest fire.

The end of the book was a treat for it nicely tied up the whole book and brought clarity to the story.

I highly recommend this story for those who enjoy visionary fiction. You might find yourself wondering if this is simply a magical world where animals talk, have human emotions and past life memories or if there is a golden thread of truth that can help us in our own journey home.

Do you believe in reincarnation?  Do you have any memories of a past life?  Do you think we decide what our next life will be?

Here is a wonderful book trailer of the novel.

Check out Heidi Skarie’s website bluestarvisions.com where you can get a free short story and get on her newsletter.

Hector and the Search for Happiness March 22, 2016

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urlI recently saw Hector and the Search for Happiness about Hector (Simon Pegg), a quirky psychiatrist, who has a good business, a beautiful girlfriend, Clare (Rosamund Pike), who does everything for him, and an expensively furnished apartment. Yet he isn’t satisfied with his life. Everyday he listens to his client’s problems, yet he feels like a fraud because he’s giving them advice and they aren’t getting happier.

The pressure within Hector builds as he listens to a client’s seemingly “trivial” problems until finally he explods and yells at her.

After another incident where Hector overreacts, he decides he needs to take a journey to figure out what happiness is and to resolve some issues from the past. Clare is too busy at work to come on the trip with him and her immediate reaction is that he wants to break up. He says he doesn’t and asks her if she’ll be there when he returns. She asks him how long he’ll be gone. When he replies that he doesn’t know, she says then she doesn’t know if she’ll be there or not.

Clare gives him a journal as a parting gift and he uses it to write down his own insights into happiness. He also asks the people he meets what they think happiness is and jots down their answers. His journey takes him to different places in the world with his focus being on interacting with people not on seeing the sites.

The story is told with humor mixed with some real insights into life and the different ways people look at happiness. In the journey Hector is confronted with life, death, illness, love, wealth, poverty, sex, family, and nostalgia.

The movie is good in that it makes you reflect on what happiness means to you. It shows how each person defines happiness differently and how some people aren’t happy now but think they will be in the future after they make a lot of money or retire or are healthy etc.

As I watched it, I thought about my own concept of happiness and how to live a happier life. I realized I have many good things in my life, but I often don’t see them. For me being happy should be in the moment, in the here and now, not in some time in the future. I don’t have to wait for something to happen to be happy. I also don’t have to let other people’s actions control my happiness. I’m happier when I see the blessings in my life and the gifts that are all around me. I also realized love is the key to happiness.

We’re all like Hector in that we are each on our own journey of self-discovery to find the meaning of life and happiness.

What makes you happy? Have you ever longed for something thinking it would make you happy and when you got it, discovered that it didn’t give you the joy you thought it would? What does happiness mean to you?

Here is the official trailer of the movie.

 

Louie Schwartzberg: An Amazing Videos February 4, 2016

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For the new year I want to share a special video called Gratitude by Louie Schwartzberg. What better time than the beginning of the year to think about all we have to be grateful for. Schwarzberg talks about being present and celebrating life as he shares his amazing time lapse photography. He has captured some flowers unfolding, the movement of clouds in the sky, and butterflies. His talk and films are both inspiring.
The second part of the video is called “Happiness Revealed” and is from the point of view of a child and elderly man. One of the things the elderly man says is to look at the faces of the people you meet. Each one has an incredible stories behind their face.

I hope you are uplifted as much as I was by this wonderful video

The Martian January 29, 2016

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Being a science fiction writer and hearing that The Martian was a good film with Matt Damon as the star, I had to check it out. I’m glad I did. It was an enjoyable movie with an urlinteresting premise and lots of drama.

Astronaut Mark Watney is thought to be dead when he’s caught in a terrible storm on Mars and ends up being left behind by his crewmates when they head for home. He finds himself stranded on Mars without enough food to survive until a rescue ship can come for him. He has to use all his skills to find a way to signal earth, stay alive, and grow his own food.

The story is based on real science and the Watney is a funny, smart man who we enjoy being with as the viewer.

The film won two golden globe awards for best motion picture and best actor.

The story behind the movie is also interesting. The book, the movie was based on, was written by Andy Weir, an American software engineer. It was written to be as scientifically accurate as possible. It was first published as a free serial on Weir’s personal blog and received feedback from the readers. At the reader’s request it was eventually made into an e-book that sold for 99 cents. It shot to the top of Amazon’s best-seller science fiction list. An agent contacted Weir and it was sold to a large publisher. Four days later Hollywood called for the movie rights. It all happened so fast even the author had a hard time believing it.

Here is the trailer of The Martian.

Another Youtube I ran across was an interview with Matt Damon, Andy Weir, and Dr. Jim Green (from NASA). In this interview we find out that elements in the movie are already being developed by NASA. The people who made the movie visited NASA to make it as real as possible. Here is a link to the youtube.

Do you think we’ll someday go to Mars and set up settlements? If we do, would you want to go there?

Weir’s first work to gain attention was a short story called The Egg that was adapted into Youtube videos. Here is a link to one of the youtubes if you’d like to see one. It’s an interesting story exploring soul’s experience after a person dies.

The Egg:

The How and Why of Author Newsletters January 27, 2016

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If you’re a writer you will want to read this post by Steena Holms about newsletters: why you need them, how often to send them, what to say in them. And most important– remember newsletters aren’t about you, they are about your readers. Good luck with your writing.

Writers In The Storm Blog

Steena Holmes Steena Holmes

by Steena Holmes

In my last post, I talked about Street Teams and using my newsletter to connect with my readers. It raised a few questions about newsletters to which I replied “but that’s another blog.” The ladies at WITS took me up on that. So today we’re going to talk about …

Newsletters.

Some authors groan at the thought while others smile. But when used correctly, a newsletter can be your new best best friend.

Why? Because it’s your number one method of communication with readers.

What can you use your newsletter for?

  • Announce the release of your latest book
  • Promote when you have a special deal on your book
  • Get word out about a special contest
  • Boast about a great review or that sparkly new award you won
  • Tease your readers about your latest project

However – and this is a biggie – your newsletter isn’t…

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Annoure and the Dragon Ships by Heidi Skarie December 21, 2015

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cover DS smaller file

Author Notes about Annoure and the Dragon Ships.

I’m excited to finally see Annoure and the Dragon Ships make its entrance into the world of literature. Annoure and Thorstein are finally getting a chance to share their story.

I carefully researched this period of history and did my best to make it accurate. Although the Norsemen had runes for writing on stone and labeling things, they didn’t have books that would have left a more detailed picture of their lives.

Much of what we know about them has comes from archeologist and the people who they invaded who didn’t portray them in a favorable light.

We do know the Norsemen’s longships were an important part of their culture. They were fast, sleek and shallow-drafted, which allowed them to travel up rivers and come into shallow water.

In writing the book I used some Norse words to make the story more authentic. Since the Norse language was before the time of dictionaries, the names given to words varies, as does the spelling of those words. I chose to take the most commonly used words and their spellings of the words such as “sonr” for son.

Even the word “Viking” is a more modern term to refer to the Norsemen. They didn’t call themselves Vikings. They said would say they were going “a-viking” when they planned a trading expedition or went on a raid.

The Viking Age began with an attack on the monastic settlement of Lindisfarne, an island off the northeast coast on England in Northumbria.

My story starts a year later when five dragon ships sailed up the River Thyne and attacked the St. Paul’s Church at Jarrow. They burned the two monasteries, killed or kidnapped the priest and monks, and fought the soldiers and villagers who tried to stop them. Their war leader was killed during the attack.

As the Norsemen left, a terrible storm arose and two of the dragon ships sank. The Norse warriors who survived the shipwrecks swam to shore and were then killed by the villagers and soldiers.

Historians disagree as to where the Norsemen who attacked Jarrow came from. For the purpose of my book I chose to have them come from what is now known as Norway.

While researching the book, I traveled to England and visited St. Paul’s Church. The church is still in use after over a thousand years. Beside it are the remains of the two monasteries that were destroyed in the Viking raid.

Nearby was an exhibit of a reconstructed medieval village complete with live animals. I was delighted to see what a village would have looked like back then with its thatched-roofed houses and twisted-branched fences.

Later I made a trip to Norway with my husband who is a one-hundred-percent Norwegian. I wanted to visit Rosendal where Thorstein’s family homestead was located on the west coast of Norway, an area famous for its fjords.

We flew into Stavanger where we rented a car and started our journey. We drove through a tunnel cut out of bedrock under a bay, traveled by car ferry, and drove on narrow mountain roads though some of the most beauty country in the world. Obviously the area has changed in over a thousand years yet the mountains, ocean, the nearby island (where Thorstein’s neighbors lived) and fjord are the same. Being there helped me write more realistically about the area.

I hope the story depict the Norsemen in way that shows their strengths and weaknesses and gives you a glimpse into their lives.

 

The Importance of a Beta Reader with Heidi Skarie December 2, 2015

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Here’s an interview on Stephanie Hopkins’ blog on “The Importance of a Beta Reader with Heidi Skarie”. The interview talks about the value of advanced reader who gives an author feedback on their novel before the final edit.

Layered Pages

Heidi Skarie BRAG

I’d like to welcome back B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Heidi Skarie today to talk with me about the importance of Beta Readers. She writes visionary novels that are an intoxicating amalgam of action, adventure and romance, featuring strong, spiritually inquisitive heroines. Star Rider on the Razor’s Edge is her first science fiction novel. She previously published Red Willow’s Quest, a historical novel based on a past life, about a Native American maiden training to become a medicine woman.

In the fall of 2015 Heidi plans to publish her new novel: Annoure and the Dragonships, another historical novel based on a past life, about a young woman kidnapped by the Vikings. In 2016 Star Rider and the Ahimsa Warrior, the second book in her Star Rider series will be published.

 Heidi, do you use beta readers?

Yes, it’s wonderful to get feedback on your book.

I know of…

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Alex & Emma: A Movie Review September 25, 2015

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Alex & Emma

Alex & Emma

Alex & Emma is an enchanting romantic comedy. The description on the back cover of the DVD says it well: “Publish or perish! Alex has just 30 days to finish his romance novel and collect his writing fee—money he owes to loan sharks threatening his life. So stressed-out Alex hires Emma to be his stenographer and discovers she’s opinionated, direct, a cause of exasperation . . . and a source of inspiration.”

The description leaves out that Alex (Luke Wilson) has writer’s block, hasn’t even started the novel and is living in a dumpy apartment. The loan sharks hang him outside his second-story window by his legs and burn his laptop on the gas stove to encourage him to get the money he owes them.

Without a laptop, Alex is forced to hire a stenographer, luring her in with a false ad that he works at a law office.

Emma (Kate Hudson) shows up at the door and immediately realizes this isn’t a law office and is about to leave when anxiety-ridden Alex faints. She drags him back into his apartment by his feet—what decent person would just leave him collapsed in the hallway? she reasons. When he awakens, Alex shows her his hardcover, published novel to convince her that he really is a writer in need of her services as a stenographer.

Emma picks up the book, looks at his photo on the back cover, then immediately turns to the last page to see if she likes the ending. Alex is dismayed that anyone would read the end first. Emma explains she doesn’t want to waste time reading a book if it doesn’t have a good ending—thus the fun begins.

The fun affair between Alex and Emma takes place both in the contemporary world and in the 1920s world of the novel Alex is writing with Emma’s not-always-wanted input.

As Alex writes, we learn about his past struggles to find happiness and love. In the end we wonder if Alex will make the same mistakes with Emma that he made in the past or if he is willing to move forward?

For a writer, the book is especially enjoyable. The movie gives an insight into Alex’s writing process and his struggles against his own insecurities that blocks his creative flow. The viewer sees how the world of the book is shaped, the changes made to the characters and plot, and the struggles an author goes through to find the best ending.

For a fun evening, see Alex & Emma. It’s full of wit, imagination and will make you laugh and feel good about the absurdities and complexities of life.

If you’re a writer, have you ever had writer’s block? If so, how did you get over it? Is Alex’s process of writing a novel similar to yours or different? In what ways? Do you work well under pressure and deadlines or does that make it worse?

By Heidi Skarie, author of Star Rider on the Razor’s Edge. Visit my website at www.heidiskaie.com and sign up for my newsletter and to receive a free short story.

Here is the book trailer.