Friday, January 15, 2021

Reading List for 2021 and service pricing.

 

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 What I will be reading in 2021


This year I want to focus more on the classical reads. Learning from these well-known books will make my writing clear and concise. Last year I have learned more about the craft of writing but realized my learning/reading is lacking. I have read only a few classic books over the year and I want to rectify that.
So this is my list of classical reads.  

What is your favourite classical read? 



Friday, December 18, 2020

Book Review: Shamus Dust by Janet Roger. Poetic murder at its best.


SHAMUS DUST: HARD WINTER. COLD WAR. COOL MURDER. 

 


Two candles flaring at a Christmas crib. A nurse who steps inside a church to light them. A gunshot emptied in a man’s head in the creaking stillness before dawn, that the nurse says she didn’t hear. It’s 1947 in the snowbound, war-scarred City of London, where Pandora’s Box just got opened in the ruins, City Police has a vice killing on its hands, and a spooked councilor hires a shamus to help spare his blushes. Like the Buddha says, everything is connected. So it all can be explained. But that’s a little cryptic when you happen to be the shamus, and you’re standing over a corpse.

 


Amazon  

 



Janet Roger was apprehended for the first time at age three, on the lam from a strange new part of town. The desk sergeant looked stern, but found her a candy bar in his pocket anyway. Big mistake. He should have taken away her shoelaces. She's been on the run ever since.

 

Website: https://www.janetroger.com/

 

Before this book, I have not heard of the word shamus meaning private detective. I was intrigued and agreed to read the book.

The narrative of the story is so poetic in deliverance that I repeated certain paragraphs to remember it, reading it out loud just for the pure joy of it. The rhythmic pulses added more glamour to the story, layered in the deep snowy streets of 1947 London. The descriptions so vivid that I was walking the streets literally, experiencing the sights and sounds of this popular city in proximity. Indulging in the flavours of an era gone by.

The scars of World War two were still visible but lives went on, fortunes were made and police officials still easy to bribe. Add a mystery of a hidden Roman Coliseum and the secrets of the privilege, and you have a story that is waiting to be discovered.

Private Investigator Newman found himself in the middle of it all as bodies dropped on Christmas Eve. Pulled into a world where the same-sex attraction was still forbidden and men would rather die than divulge their secrets.

Finding missing people might be his forte, but for this American PI, it was no smooth ride. Together we could sift through the evidence, talk to the people involved and followed the breadcrumbs as we indulge in the history of Roman Empires, beautiful women, well-built men and fast cars.

The plotline draws you in at each page. The added characters lifted the bar as they added suspense and more secrets to it.

Truly a well-written book that belongs next to Ruth Rendell, Agatha Christie, Heinz Konsalik and Stieg Larson books on your shelf.



Outside in the garden a robin took a dive off the top of a frosted plum tree, landed on a windowsill and started hopping around in the snow. So picture perfect that if he could sing as well as dance, they’d put him under contract at Paramount.

 ***

The silhouette of a single-engine Lysander skimmed a fret of trees, silent as a gull clipping wavetops, crossed the Oxford road close to stalling and floated weightless out of a sky dripping starlight. It yawed and dipped over a frozen swell of Quonset huts at the airfield perimeter, adjusted its trim and for a long moment let you hear the whisper of its motor, then glided in over a curling ground mist. It kissed the strip twice lightly, like Proust greeting his grandmother, and when it put its tail down I turned away from the car and followed Henry to the sliding doors of a hangar.

 ***

I kept my ribs stiff and stooped for the ticket, got it between my fingers and stopped dead. Slotted under the counter, in a line of bags and umbrellas, there was an air force khaki Gladstone with a metal initial fixed on each strap. The matador was eyeing me, wrapped in a scent as tight as her yellow dress. “Well, what do you know. You take somebody for a customer and it turns out he’s a gentleman. What a flutter-brain cluck!” I put out a hand to the countertop and straightened up. “And I took you for drum majorette. We’re both flutter-brain clucks.”

 ***

An outdoor coat hung beside the file drawers. Rubber overshoes warmed against a heating pipe behind the desk. There was no window. The only decoration was a framed picture on top of one of the cabinets of a sleek navy frigate edging into Malta’s Grand Harbor. It was barely creating a bow wave, on the kind of hot June afternoon that can make even a warship look serene.

***

The bright room was on the snug side of intimate. It had no windows. Only two steel-tube chairs across a bolted-down table, so narrow you could feel their breath in your face, as sour as their mood and as permanent as their point of view. I hadn’t seen either of them before. Two City detectives, one older and seated opposite, the other younger and leaner and on his feet, with the chiseled look of a Hero of Soviet Agriculture.

 

 



Wednesday, November 4, 2020

8 Books for Freelance Writers

Article shared from Non-Profit Copywriter.com. 


Freelance writers – and those who want to be one – know one of the cardinal rules of the writing business: “To be a writer, read a lot.”

Use this list to gain know-how for building your freelance writing business, whether you’re pursuing the writing life as a copywriter, content writer, blogger, book author, or freelancer for publications. 

I hope you’ll add your suggestions for books for freelance writers in the Comments below!

Secrets of a Freelance Writer by Bob Bly

Now in its third edition, Bob’s book is considered the authoritative guide to making money as a commercial writer. Bob’s career as a copywriter is legendary. He explains why corporations, small businesses, associations, nonprofit organizations, the government, and commercial clients need all kinds of writing projects and also how to get started freelancing, market yourself, and run your business. Great bonus in the appendix: model documents and resources to get you started. (More about the book here.)

Starting Your Career as a Freelance Writer by Moira Allen

Moira draws upon 30 years as a freelance writer in this step-by-step guide to getting started as a freelancer. She takes you through the fundamentals: finding markets and how to write for them (articles, online writing, commercial writing) as well as managing your day-to-day office tasks (getting paid, keeping records – even setting up your office.) This book is a solid start-up manual if you want to make a living as a freelancer. (More about the book here.)

The Well-Fed Writer by Peter Bowerman

Peter’s blueprint to building a successful freelance writing business is packed with practical advice for copywriters and business writers. His focus is on the nuts and bolts of getting started as a commercial freelancer for larger companies with skills are transferable to any freelance writing niche. (More about the book here.)

Back for Seconds by Peter Bowerman

In this sequel to The Well-Fed Writer, Peter unpacks how-tos for finding freelance writing assignments in smaller or unusual commercial markets. Back for Seconds is a comprehensive and valuable roadmap for making money as a freelance writer in a down economy or a specific niche – plus like the rest of Peter’s work, it’s fun to read. (More about the book here.)

Writer For Hire: 101 Secrets to Freelance Success by Kelly James-Enger

The winner of the 2013 American Society of Journalists and Authors Outstanding Book Award, this book explains how to make a steady paycheck from your words. Kelly's focus is on articles and books – her primary writing vehicles – but her professional principles are transferable to all kinds of content and she touches on 16 other lucrative markets for freelancers. If you want sound, honest advice about making a sustainable living from writing, read her book. (More about the book here.)

How To Make A Living as a Writer by James Scott Bell

This book from a former attorney and best-selling author, columnist, instructor and speaker explains the formula for financial success as a writer: you need to write both quantity – a body of work, not just one novel, even if it’s lucrative – and quality. Two dozen short chapters are laced with practical advice from how to write an elevator speech to the basic structure of a fiction plot. While the book is geared towards succeeding as a fiction writer, its principles touch on nonfiction markets, too. Bonus: I’m a nonfiction writer, but Jim’s book made me want to write fiction! (More about the book here.)

How To Make A Living With Your Writing: Books, Blogging, and More by Joanna Penn

Joanna has become a leading voice for author entrepreneurs and in this book she explains how to develop an “author entrepreneur” mindset by creating multiple income streams. The key is to focus on scalable income: those writing projects you create once, repackage, and sell over and over.  Use her book and the rest of her How-To series for writers to achieve financial independence as a writer. (More about this book.)

Jumpstart Your Writing Career & Snag Paying Assignments by Beth Ann Erickson

I love Beth Ann’s voice – down-to-earth and practical – that she uses to guide you through the first stages of launching a freelance writing career. This book is organized in short one- or two-page snippets that you can use to follow like a series of steps.  (More about this book.)

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Book blast and Review: Unlock Bliss by Dr Zeev Gilkis







Meet the master of the art of self-transformation!
Dr. Zeev Gilkis has experienced so many transformations in his life that he is a virtuoso in the art of change. In this inspiring memoir Dr. Gilkis will take you on an extraordinary journey through the many stops in his rich and diverse career. He went from being a "couch potato" geek, whose only workouts were playing chess and bridge, to becoming a surfer and triathlete, who competed in a triathlon, for the first time, at the age of 66! Not only that; after defeating advanced stage cancer he became a healthy and happy person. He shares everything with you in this book, in a perfect balance of anecdotes, popular science, and true wisdom that will help you unlock new paths to happiness. Rise above the slump and experience life with a smile. Read and discover his secrets... 





 Unlock Bliss is book three in the series Younger than ever. I never knew happiness has a formula. Dr Zeev dissected the topic in a mathematical way that I found interesting. Taking every scenario into account, he came to insightful conclusions. 

It is only when we face a valley that we are forced to seek the answers for ourselves. In Dr Zeev’s life, cancer was his motivator to become better acquainted with his body, mind, and spirit. Tapping into the resources available to him, he made it a scientific quest that led to his health, happiness, and the joy of life.

The book is written in an understandable way where I learned more about his driving force, as well as the more technical deductions he had discovered. Each step took him closer to a world of bliss, a very apt name for this book. Through the many stories as examples of his conclusions, I understand the why and also learn how to apply it to my own life. 

Each chapter concentrates on a specific subject. Through crafty illustrations, you learn how to make good decisions. How to play a game or invest in the stock market. Being a sufferer of headaches myself in my younger years, I can relate to his drive to find the solution. In my case, I had to learn to relax my jaw. But it cost me many visits to the hospital before that to find the ‘cure’. Once we recognise the triggers, we know what to avoid. Our brain is a wonderful machine that tells us what to do if we are willing to listen. The trick is to listen. 

I appreciated the summary at the end of each chapter. A recap or one-liner of what you have read in the simplest form. 

Through this book, I got to learn his way of thinking, his love for his children, his undying love for his wife, and his dedication to living life to the fullest. He is unashamed of his choices and what he has accomplished while paying it forward in a humble way. His drive to grow an inspiration to the younger generations.

Happiness is not about what you own. Happiness is staying in the present and enjoy what you have. This is apparent within this memoir. Once the big stones are in place it is easy to add the rest, but the key is to have the stones in place. This truth is evident throughout the book. 

This is a book a layman like myself and a scientific person will enjoy. His rational conclusions are valid. Something that I have to learn though is to stop being frustrated about the things I haven’t accomplished yet. My frustrations are my driving force but reading the book I realised how silly it is. In the end, I forget to enjoy life as well. It is a fine balance every person should learn to implement in their lives. 


Despite the globalization and social networks, the family is still the most important anchor in our life. Studies show, that one of the key impacts on happiness are the relations of children with their parents. It is not surprising, they were the first to give us encouragement, and to believe in us. So naturally we don’t want to disappoint them, and are happy to show them how well we manage and succeed in our life. I strongly believe that the first feedback we got from our parents stays with us for a lifetime and has a major impact on our self-esteem and self-assurance. Even when they get older and don’t have direct influence on our lives anymore, we still want to share with them the challenges we face, the progress we make and to hear their feedback. It is important for us how they see us: Winners or losers. If we receive the trust of our parents at an early age it strengthens our self-assurance and paves the road to success, let’s remember that, as parents. From my early childhood I admired Bobby Fisher. Robert James "Bobby" Fischer (1943 - 2008) was an American chess Grandmaster and the eleventh World Chess Champion. Many, including myself, consider him the greatest chess player of all times.

In 1972, he won the World Chess Championship beating Boris Spassky of the USSR in a match held in Reykjavík, Iceland, publicized as a Cold War confrontation which attracted more worldwide interest than any chess championship ever. But in 1975, Fischer refused to defend his title and lost it. The 2014 movie “Pawn Sacrifice” allows a glimpse into Fisher’s life. It seems that despite his unprecedented achievements he was never happy. Bobby Fisher never met his father. His mother refused to tell him who his father was. I believe that his lacking “half" his parents could have been the major source of his weirdness and unhappy life.



Time summary

√ A lost pinch of gold can be found, a lost pinch of time, never.

√ Time is the most precious resource; it’s priceless, because it can’t be bought.

√ The modern man is losing some of his joy of life, because of being always in a hurry.

√ Does watching or listening to the news really contribute to our daily life and wellbeing?

√ It’s possible to measure time by events, the more events and experiences we have the longer our real life is. 

Friday, October 2, 2020

Book review The Cure by Athol Dickson



Sometimes The Cure is much worse than the disease.

Riley Keep, former missionary, now a drunk, is begging on the streets and desperate to forget a past he lost in one far-flung act of wickedness. Then he hears the rumours. Miracles are happening in the picture-postcard village of Dublin, Maine.

Riley isn't the only Pilgrim searching for deliverance. There's the old woman fleeing a horrific monster, the lonely wife tempted by forbidden desire, the impoverished lobsterman lured by tainted wealth, the young girl weighing life and death decisions, and the small-town cop with murder on his hands. But only Riley Keep will learn if it's true what people say: sometimes The Cure is much worse than the disease.



It took me a couple of years to get to this book. I have downloaded it back in 2012 when things in my life were falling apart and my life changed. Back then I was angry, disillusioned with life, marriage, church and God and I lost my way. The last thing I wanted to do was read another Christian book.

Now, after all these years I have found my way back
and enjoyed this book. The foundational scripture the author used is very appropriate for the storyline and it came alive through the character of Riley Keep. A man who lost his way after a heartbreaking experience as a missionary.


The storytelling took me right to the heart of the mystery Riley found himself in. A mystery that caused riots around him, false accusations to derail his family while this man tried to fix things the best he could.

The problem with fixing things from the natural has a tendency to backfire and in this book, it is a certain fact. Never rely on your own understanding. It is then that you think you are all-powerful, in control and untouchable. But as the wheels came off Riley realised his flaw. When God steps in you know you have to be meek in order to be strong.

A wonderful book with so much depth and empath that it touches your heart while you enjoy a good mystery thriller.


Thursday, September 24, 2020

Book review: Running Back in Time by Dr Zeev Gilkis

 


Amazon


Dancing, running, surfing, biking, diving, swimming, and skiing… just to read this book makes me excited and tired (whispering). To think of competing in a triathlon at any age is tiresome but to do it at the age of 65 is almost unheard of. Here is a man 12 years my senior doing all of the above with so much energy that I feel ashamed of my own efforts.

Facing some health problems, he approached it more like a hurdle and adjust his eating and exercise habits in such a manner which only propels him forward. Investing in himself is cardinal to meeting his goal and you can clearly see the results through the many pictures added. I am amazed how in tune he is with his body; every message of his body adhered to and adjusted to achieve his goal.

“Am I enjoying this moment?” a determining factor in his life and how he lives.

His positive outlook is absolutely remarkable. In a conversational way, Dr Zeev tells about his daily routine, his preparations for the different events, and his feelings after the race. An open book filled with nuggets of wisdom and insights into his life. He hides nothing of his difficulties but shares it from a scientific viewpoint while focussing on the how in a positive way. Unblemished and clear you understand his reasoning and the results speak for themselves.

I cannot help but feel encouraged and mesmerized by his way of life and the method he follows. His analytic approach helps us to understand this path more deeply.

He is clearly a proud man that lives his life as he pleases, but humble in so many ways. I didn’t get the idea that he tried to show off his superior knowledge with me. It was more like a show and tell that opens his world to me with a greater depth you get from similar books.

The pictures added an extra layer to his story which I really enjoyed. His trips to India and his meditation breakaways, reveal his spirituality and the importance of a well-balanced person. Balancing is an art form, he perfected with positiveness. His extensive knowledge improves his ideas with finesse as he explains it while keeping it lively and to the point.

“I feel my body, observe it as it moves, almost effortlessly, almost by itself. But I also “feel” the road. Is an everyday way of life to him.

There are so much that we as the younger generation can learn from him. His knowledge and wisdom an eye-opening experience that makes you think.

I wish you luck Dr Zeev. I know that the next year and the marathon will be a wonderful success.

Truly, an awesome book.

 


Mind Over Matter

The quote below is attributed to Marilyn Monroe:

“The sky is not the limit. Our mind is.”

Everything originates in the mind.

There are moments of doubt, and whether I continue or not, go for it and fight or give up, depends only on my determination. Determination is ruled by the mind. I owe all my sport achievement to the mind first. Pursuing training is the result of the mind’s decision.

Meditation

Our well-being is built on four pillars: physical activity, proper nutrition, social life (friends, family, and community) and mental or spiritual attitude. Most people believe in God and that can definitely be helpful when they are true believers and their faith is deep and strong. For many it is just habit, something shallow, not having much significant impact on their lives. In modern times, in the Western World, many ancient Eastern techniques have been introduced that are greatly contributing to the quality of life of many people. I’m one of these. I learned Transcendental Meditation (TM), as taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, when I was 27 and it has changed my life. It has given me greater peace of mind, short periods of effective rest during the afternoon, that enable me to perform well for the rest of the day, a “shrink” in times of crisis and a great tool for dealing with stressful situations. It has also opened for me a window into the spiritual world.


Running an 18K Run for the First Time!

September 4th. My first 18K! Really not easy… Various parts of my body seemed to wake up and start complaining and making demands. Some of my pains left as quickly as they arrived while others of varying intensity decided to stay. An interesting process of getting to know one’s body… I liked the second part of the run better. The beginning is always more difficult, the brain probably needs time to understand what I am demanding of it and of my body… And there are always fears and doubts, just what pains will I be experiencing this time…?

In the past, I would finish each run with a sprint, I really enjoyed it. I like speed. But now, when the goal is to cover greater and greater distances, I prefer to slow down at the finish to take it easy. The idea is to not feel completely exhausted at the end but still able to run. The logic behind this is as follows: I could run that distance and I wasn’t exhausted at the end. Therefore, I can run even more! Next time adding 500 meters, or even more, shouldn’t be an issue! So far it has worked. In mathematics it’s called coming to a conclusion by induction. According to this math logic, I can run forever. We will see.


The Triathlon Season September 27th – Netanya Triathlon

I don’t take for granted my returning at age sixty-eight and a half, to again compete in a triathlon, with full Olympic distances:

1.5 kilometers swimming in the sea

40 kilometers by bike

10 kilometers run

It was a long swim, it felt like it would never end. At the end the Garmin (my sport watch and best buddy) showed that I had swum 2,250 meters, which is fifty percent longer than the Olympic distance! After the competition, the organizers admitted that the distance had been 2 kilometers instead of the required 1.5, because the buoys had drifted out with the current… The other 250 meters I added because I had failed to swim in a straight line and had deviated from one side to the other, especially when returning to shore, I had been blinded by the sun. I concluded that it is important to swim straight– the shortest distance. I will have to give this priority and to work on it. The biking was good; my average speed was 26 kilometers an hour with a total time of an hour and half. Because of the heat, the run was reduced to 5 kilometers. I eventually finished it with 3:03, still a reasonable time.

At the closing ceremony, I was surprised when I was recognized as #1 in my category.



Dream big. Set ambitious goals. Attain unusual achievements.

At the age of 68, while still recovering from his second knee injury, Dr. Zeev Gilkis decided to give himself an unusual present for his 70th birthday.

He dreamed of running a full Marathon, and completing the seventh decade of his life seemed to him the ideal timing to do so.

Perhaps this ambitious goal wouldn’t have been so unusual, had he been a very physically active person in his younger years. But Zeev is a cancer survivor who began his ‘career’ in sports relatively late, in his mid-sixties.

As two years is a long time, he set a milestone for his 69th birthday: to go mid-way - running a half marathon.

Along with his plans and dreams he kept a diary where he recorded the ups and downs, practical tips and original thoughts that crossed his mind in this long, challenging journey.

Join Zeev in this adventure and discover that age doesn't matter. You too can achieve anything you truly dream of.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Review: The Murmur of Bees by Sofia Segovia


From a beguiling voice in Mexican fiction comes an astonishing novel—her first to be translated into English—about a mysterious child with the power to change a family’s history in a country on the verge of revolution.

From the day old Nana Reja found a baby abandoned under a bridge, the life of a small Mexican village forever changed. Disfigured and covered in a blanket of bees, little Simonopio is for some locals the stuff of superstition, a child kissed by the devil. But he is welcomed by landowners Francisco and Beatriz Morales, who adopt him and care for him as if he were their own. As he grows up, Simonopio becomes a cause for wonder to the Morales family, because when the uncannily gifted child closes his eyes, he can see what no one else can—visions of all that’s yet to come, both beautiful and dangerous. Followed by his protective swarm of bees and living to deliver his adoptive family from threats—both human and those of nature—Simonopio’s purpose in Linares will, in time, be divined.

Set against the backdrop of the Mexican Revolution and the devastating influenza of 1918, The Murmur of Bees captures both the fate of a country in flux and the destiny of one family that has put their love, faith, and future in the unbelievable.  


I am not a big fan of translated stories but since I cannot speak Mexican, I had to trust my gut about this book. It was recommended to me by Goodreads and thought why not. Let me expand my knowledge.
I was not disappointed.

Simonopio’s story is written with so much empathy and understanding that I simply could not put this book down. And I believe the translation was spot on because the essences of the story came through in each word and sentence and could I enjoy this historical read to the fullest. The author’s ability to capture my imagination by the amicable storytelling had me from page one.

It is storytelling at its best. As a reader, I was taken on a journey, back in time when Influenza played a huge role in the reshaping of the world.
At one stage, I wondered if the 2020 pandemic has influenced my thoughts, since the same changes are visible all around us. But this was worth every minute I spend within this book.

The relevance of the history and Simonopio's story, even today is heartfelt as you venture into this world of surviving everyday life with the unusual boy accompanied by bees. The relationship between man and bees is well-known but, in this story, it felt as if I could understand the hive and their reasons for protecting the boy. The delicate relationship of trust and determination between them added a subtle twist into the story. Knowing that something is about to happen but unsure.
The continual built up gives you glimpses of life on this farm and the people that lived there. The subtle nuances between landowner and workers became part of the suspense. Written in the third person, I had a good understanding of each character’s thoughts which enhanced the storyline greatly.

Simonopio’s character though was absolutely the best to follow. This boy could not speak a word but through the eyes of the author, this character felt like an old soul with so much wisdom that I was mesmerized. His actions are genuine and insightful as you tagged along.

Nana Reja’s character also filled me with curious wonder. Her tale just as unusual and fitting to the story.

Within all these events, evil loomed like dangerous cancer which only the bees were aware of. The bees and Simonopio. An evil with no name but growing in intensity. As his journey continues it grew while the world went off their lives as normal as always.

The trail always leading Simonopio onwards. Seasons come and goes and each time the intensity grows with the boy. Like a fever, it builds till that moment of revelation. The small breaks like the discovery of orange blossoms gave realism to the plot and you are plunged into time, progress and growth.

A book I can recommend to every reader that likes the delicate intricacies of a well-written tale.

Amazon 

Reading List for 2021 and service pricing.

  Services  For $5 payable to my PayPal account you get: South African Authors: contact me for banking details. Make sure about the excha...