Sunday, October 31, 2010

Review of Nowhere to run by Judy Westwater

Nowhere to RunNowhere to Run by Judy Westwater

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This autobiography by Judy Westwater was inspirational. She suffered the worst kind of abuse imaginable, struggled for a good part of her life but never gave up. She looked for the positives, made many plans and rose up out of the dung pile time and time again. It was fantastic that she eventually did get to experience love and yet even that was snatched from her. Despite her many trials and struggles, when Judy got some money she didn't think of herself or bettering her life, but immediately thought about what she could do with the money to help others. Judy Westwater is an amazing woman and her story is definitely worth reading.

It is interesting that she had a pattern of bad relationships in her life, and as I said in my book Fear, Phobias and Frozen Feet, the only way to break that cycle of bad relationships is to change you and find yourself first. That's exactly what Judy did.

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Friday, October 29, 2010

Stuck on a merry-go-round

Occasionally, life begins to feel as if you're stuck on an ever-faster spinning merry-go-round, and you cling fearfully onto the thin leather reigns of your bright red circus horse to avoid being flung off into the back of beyond somewhere.  My life was starting to feel like that, so much to do, so little time and the weight of exhaustion and fatigue was dragging me down.  Throw in several bouts of chronic hayfever and seemingly endless meetings and you'll start to get the picture.  All of that is normal end-of-term sentiments for any teacher anywhere in the world.  It's that that makes us grimace and smile through gritted teeth when people refer to teaching as a half-day job with great holidays.  Teachers need the holidays the same way that parents need term-time.  We all want a break from the little blighters!
This past October break, Siobhan and I headed to Nairobi in Kenya.  We managed to get doctor's appointments with a top endocrinologist there, had a mammogram and then attended a week long conference in Nairobi.  Nairobi is great!  We had been warned that it can be quite dangerous and should rather be called Nairobbery, but I have to say, we felt quite safe there.  In the end I didn't drive there but went in the shuttle bus which was quite pleasant.  My car was only operating on 3 cylinders, so had to have an engine overhaul.  It was probably a good thing I didn't drive there, as the traffic in Nairobi is unbelievable and I wouldn't have known where to find the fantastic shopping malls!  We are totally in love with Village Market and the Java Houses at some of the malls.  We spent three days in different malls, watched a movie each day in the cinema and had a ball.  Of course, it goes without saying that we spent way too much money!  There are so many hospitals in Nairobi and the ones we visited were top class.  I never got the results or mammogram film though, but the endocrinologist gave me some new thyroid meds and my tiredness and exhaustion has evaporated and I feel like I am that super-charged pink bunny in the duracell adverts.  My feet and ankles swelled up during the conference, the week after I saw the doctor, with quite a severe oedema, which I imagine is from all the sitting I did.  The 8 hour bus ride back to Moshi exasperated it, and they haven't yet gone back to normal.  I feel like I am walking around with huge cushions on the end of my leg-bones.  I should put my feet up, but have so much writing to do.  On top of that, I seem to have picked up a bladder infection, so while I feel like a bundle of energy, I actually feel quite yucky with my swollen feet and burning bladder.
Talking about writing, I've finally completed The Great Mountain to Mountain Safari and it's gone to the publisher and they posted me the proof copy today.  I'm now all set for NaNoWriMo which is National Novel Writing Month which happens every November each year.  The goal  is to write 50 000 words in a month.  During the only boring workshop at the conference, I worked out my character sketches, setting and plot outline for the novel I plan to write during November.  So, I guess you can say I used my time wisely and am rearing to go!  The new novel is going to be called Defective, and I think the plot-line is a goodie!  I can't wait for the first of November so I can start writing!
Have a great weekend!  There's a wedding across the road from me with a brass band, so I guess I won't be getting much sleep tonight!  Hopefully, the bride and groom will want to slip away quite early for their wedding night!  Only 9.30pm, still an hour before I fetch Siobhan from a disco at school.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Book Review of Harvesting the heart

Harvesting the HeartHarvesting the Heart by Jodi Picoult

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I am a Jodi Picoult fan, and it hurts me to say that this book just didn't do it for me. It was bland. Rather like when you go to a restaurant everybody raves about, and expecting an exotic meal you get a beef stew you could have made at home. There were no plot twists, no unexpected twist at the end. No spice and tangy sauce. It was palatable and filled the belly, and I was happy when I finished it. The story was predictable, it was obvious what was going to happen. There wasn't much depth to the story or the characters. Altogether a bit blah, but Jodi I won't give up on you just yet!

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Monday, October 18, 2010

The girl who got acquainted with sorceresses

Good day from a conference in Nairobi in Kenya!  My apologies to Alysa, I should have hosted her guest post on the 13th October, but lack of internet access the last few days while staying in Nairobi has made me a few days llate.  Alysa, my humblest apologies!  I'd like to give Alysa a great warm welcome to my blog!  She's written an autobiographical novel which is a very popular genre of late.  Here's Alysa to tell you more!

Hi Cindy, thanks for having me on your blog! I just follow up on your Stieg Larssons The girl who…theme because I don’t want to be a spoilsport. I just baptized the next excerpt of my book The Sorcerer’s Dream The girl who got acquainted with sorceresses and could fly like an eagle.

This story takes place in the beginning of my apprenticeship with shaman Vidar in the art of mastering lucid dreaming. In the dream world everything is possible. Under guidance of sorcerer Running Deer I made the impossible possible and even managed to transform into an elf.
“I am about to depart, when out of the corner of my eye, my attention is drawn toward a group of women. Hanging around looking bored, it seems like they have been waiting for the bus for ages.
I dig my heels in the ground. “Whoa, hold on a minute.” I stop the eagle who was about to take me to the wind direction, pointed at by the woman in the street.
Tell me if I am wrong, but I believe them to be the sorceresses who dragged me along in my dreaming the other day. They exude the same mysterious atmosphere, somewhere between mysticism and light-footedness. I have to concentrate to see how many there are. I count one-two-three-four-five and watch them one by one. Two are not as exotic as in my dreaming, but, it was dark.
One of them is tall and slender, her grey-blond hair is cut in an elegant bob and she is fashionably dressed. She has a natural elegance and she emanates life-wisdom without being pedantic. She looks like the eldest of the lot and the wisest, at least, that is the impression she makes.
The other woman has beautiful long red curly hair. She is quite sturdy and makes a social and friendly impression with her rosy cheeks, a long pleated skirt and thatched basket on her arm. Immediately, she puts me at ease.
The three dark women mirror the image of each other, they must be sisters. All three of them are dressed in black, and with their dark hair tied back, their caramel colored skin and with big dark brown eyes they are true exotics. They stand, or rather they hang between the other two, as though they are about to fall asleep any minute. The one in the middle is not half as slender as the other two, but all three seem smaller than the other two women. They stare at me silently without making me uncomfortable.
Without the interference of any tone of voice, I hear: “Hello, here we are, pleased to meet you.”
I would love to start a conversation, but I have other plans for now and promise to come back later to get better acquainted.
I fly along with the eagle and from the air I see the red path down below, bending like a thin trail through the rocky west and I dive downward after the eagle. Like the first time, we land at the start of the trail and after a short walk we fly over the green palm tops in the direction of the ocean. Further to the left there are several bays interrupted by rocks and stones. I circle, exploring over the west’s shelter. It is the first bay seen from the rocks, toward the right the jungle starts narrowing into a point. I descend at the sea, make myself comfortable and take in the light orange horizon from left to right and back.
The tiger walks toward me, purrs and pushes his head against my shoulder. I stroke his head softly, get up and we walk to the wooden villa together.

Win a copy of The Sorcerer’s Dream

I am happy to let you know that there is a contest going on right now on my site, offering a chance to win a copy of the Sorcerer’s Dream. I invite you to type in 'Book Giveaway' in the question area and you will be entered in the drawing on Oct 30 (2010).
Good luck!
Alysa Braceau, Dreamshield

Alysa Braceau aka Dreamshield, author of The Sorcerer’s Dream


This autobiographical adventure is about a journalist who meets the enigmatic sorcerer, Running Deer, and her initiation into the sorcerer's world and mastering conscious dreaming. This book, that follows in the traditions of Carlos Castaneda and others, takes the reader through the magic realms of the unknown and gives a new approach to the traditional training of women sorcerers. It takes place not in some fantasy world, but in a contemporary society, and addresses the things we face on a daily basis in our everyday lives.
Bio: Alysa Braceau, Dreamshield lives in the Netherlands (Europe), she has a 6-year old daughter. She studied social legal studies and the last ten years she is a (freelance) journalist and publisher. Besides that she has a healing practice and gives workshops about the Art of Dreaming.

Dreamshield is author of The Sorcerer’s Dream. The theme of the passed years have been the sorcerers tradition and mastering conscious (lucid) dreaming. She carefully recorded her personal experiences which has finally led to this first book.

A short pitch on where to buy The Sorcerer’s Dream

The Sorcerer’s dream, an initiation into the sorcerer’s world and mastering conscious dreaming. Buy it at:

The book can be ordered on Amazon – and everywhere they sell books



Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Girl with a face like an over-ripe tomato

After spending the last three weekends consuming and devouring Stieg Larsson's Millenium series, I think the title of this post could easily be the title of his fourth book which is on his laptop, the only thing inherited by his partner of 30 years.  How sad is that?  Stieg Larsson ruined my social life three weekends in a row.  He ruined my sleep as I read until 2am to finish the last book in the series.  My updating of my blog was confined to book reviews of his books I read.  I was invited to a birthday party that had a pig cooking on a spit, and I kept saying, "One more page, one more page," and when next I looked at the time it was 2am!  Yeah, you may say it, I am pathetic and obsessive, whatever!  Okay I admit it, wherever you are, Stieg Larsson I am your number one fan.  But, back to The Girl with a face like an over-ripe tomato.  That happens to be me.  Yesterday I travelled to Arusha to chaperone our school's athletics team at a meet.  Thinking I'd be sitting under the trees watching kids and chatting to parents, I neglected to take along sun cream.  Unfortunately, they were short staffed and a little chaotic, and myself and one of the parents got roped into timekeeping in the full sun with NO sunscreen.  The stopwatches were dinky brightly coloured toys made in China and probably bought from Toys R Us.  Needless to say, they didn't work properly, but that's a whole other story.  After 4 hours in direct African sun, remembering we are sort of on the equator here, my face had turned an enviable shade of bright red.  You could have chopped off my head and used it as a stop sign.  Someone said, "Oh I was going around passing out sunblock but thought you didn't need it because you were African."  Listen lady, Africans also burn, especially white Africans.  So I went home with my face stinging and my nose feeling like the skin was going to split any minute.
This morning I woke up and my face was swollen and puffy.  I have been sunburnt many times before, but I've never woken up with a swollen puffy face.  Under my eyes were saggy bags that looked as if I could keep my loose change in them.  I was aesthetically, a disaster.  On top of that, I could hardly see out of my eyes.  The worst part, is that I have finished the free samples of moisturising lotion I collected from hotels we stayed at on our recent Mountain to Mountain Safari.  I have a nasty feeling I am going to peel and when my new skin comes out I'm going to look like a wrinkled old prune.  The worst is, is that the redness of my face really brings out the greyness of my hair.
I've finished the first draft of The Great Mountain to Mountain Safari, and am now working on writing the random factoids that'll appear throughout the book and getting the formatting right.  The maps are still giving me grey hairs.  I wish |I knew a cartographer who could just draw them for me.  It's all about time, and that is something which I don't have enough of.  Somebody dropped off 10 kg of pork, thinking I'd turn it into sausages.  I have no time to make sausages, I really want to get this book finished, so have decided to smoke it.  I can only hope it turns out okay.  Talking about baking and cooking, because of the vast amounts of spinach in my garden, I've spent each weekend, after I'd finished with Stieg Larsson, trying out new recipes with spinach.  I made canelloni, spinach quiche and last weekend, spinach and cheese pastries.  Today I'm going to make spinach and feta samoosas and spinach and cheese muffins.  Just call me the 'domesticated expat writer teacher.'  I just need a little apron now to really look the part.  Mind you, this red face will detract from my culinary skills.
Hopefully, this last week of school before the holiday won't be as hectic as the two preceding ones.  And, I have no more Stieg larsson to distract me from my writing tasks and social life.
Have a great week!