Latest Review of Ben’s Challenge

October 10, 2013 at 1:09 pm | Posted in Publishing, Reading, Writing, Writing and Life | 4 Comments
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It was lovely to receive this review from Brenda on Goodreads

Brenda’s review

4 of 5 stars
Read from August 09 to 10, 2013 — I own a copy

Ben lived with his Mum, Dad, brother Peter and sister Helen. At thirteen he was in first year high school in a small town in country Australia, where his German descent made him the butt for racist taunts and comments from a few members of the community. He was called “kraut” and “jerry” so often it bounced off him. His friend Joe fared no better, as he was a refugee along with his family. Even though they were hard workers, the common name-calling taunt was “reffo”. It hurt, but they were used to it.

The day which was to change Ben and his family’s life forever started the same as any other. But when Ben was waiting for his dad to return from work, waiting for the usual sound of his motorbike to come up the drive; the one which arrived caused him to frown in confusion – it had a completely different noise. The policeman at the front door spread terror through them all; their Dad had been hit by a car on his way home – it was a hit and run, and his Dad had not survived.

As the family struggled through their grief, Ben was frustrated by the efforts of the police. So Ben and his best friend Joe decided to take matters into their own hands. Ben started working in the small shop in town, delivering groceries and stacking shelves for Mr Fraser. As it was school holidays, the wonderful six week Christmas break, they had free time to explore, swim in the billabong and search for answers to questions that were always there.

Will Ben find the answers he is so desperate for? What will happen to the young friends in the heady days of summer in the 1950s when Elvis Presley was all the rage and racial prejudice a fact of life?

A thoroughly enjoyable novel of a young teenager’s strength, determination and courage in the face of terrible adversity. Highly recommended.

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Bringing Back the Past

May 27, 2012 at 10:09 pm | Posted in Australia, Making History, Publishing, Writing, Writing and Life | 12 Comments
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  I have been writing a personal journal on and off for a long time – probably about forty years.

When I was a girl, I had one of those little diaries with a clasp and a key, a special gift I received one birthday when my parents had a little extra money. But you can’t write much in a few small lines, and we couldn’t afford more exercise books than we had to get for school. So, during my teens, I didn’t write much at all.

I wrote a little during my twenties and thirties, but my latest stint of journal writing has been a constant for the last ten years or so. It has been a great help in keeping me sane and in helping me sort out what my life is about. Now, it also helps me work out my writing problems.

I had always wanted to do more than write diary/journal entries. I was great at writing essays, reports, analyses, but I lacked the confidence to try writing stories or poetry.

Then, in 2005 when in my mid-fifties and with my husband’s encouragement, I undertook a short creative writing course. That course opened a door for me that had been stuck since my childhood.

Short stories flowed from my pen. I tried writing poetry to improve my imagery and to cut down the word count in my stories – it worked. I even did well in competitions. I wrote more short stories. Then I did what I had never believed myself capable of – I wrote a novel. It was good – my writing group said so, and so did others who read the drafts.

I am sure it could be improved, but I cannot afford to employ a professional editor. There is also no chance of a writer like me getting either an agent or a publisher. The only way I could get it ‘out there’ was to self-publish it. Thankfully, self-publishing has become more acceptable today, though there is still a taint of amateurishness and vanity publishing to it.

My novel was originally written for middle grades and young adults. The main character is thirteen-year-old Ben who, with his friend Joe, tries to find out who killed Ben’s father. One of the main reasons I wrote it was to show today’s younger generation what life was like in an Australian farming community back in the 1950s.

However, nostalgia has become a strong drawcard for my generation. So much has changed since we were young that it has been difficult at times to come to terms with this new world. Many of us hanker for the more simple and innocent times we knew as children and teenagers. As a result, Ben’s Challenge has found its main readership among the Baby Boomer generation.

I am working on a follow-up, using the same main characters, but with a different theme to the story. I still would like youngsters to read it and compare their way of life with that of kids like Ben and Joe who grew up in the 1950s. But if the Baby Boomers take to it, then that’s all right with me. Anyway, it is the writing itself  that is really the most important to me.

© Linda Visman

27th may 2012

Getting into the electronic act

November 3, 2011 at 8:29 pm | Posted in Publishing, Reading, Writing | Leave a comment
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My novel, Ben’s Challenge, has not drawn many customers from CreateSpace. In fact, only one copy of the print book has been sold since it became available in August. I don’t know how to track the sales, if any, on Amazon or other outlets. However, it doesn’t look like print is going to sell, and if I want to get people buying it, I will have to get into the e-book market.

I see there are now many different e-book readers being put out by different companies. Many of them appear to be limited in the variety of formats they will operate. But I suppose you pay less for them.

Kindle is still the leader in e-book readers it seems, with Kindle 3 and Kindle DX. They operate a good range of formats, in fact more than most other readers. So, Kindle is probably the best e-reader to get my book into.

So, I am now in the process of converting Ben’s Challenge to a kindle e-book, through CreateSpace. It will be available on Amazon and on CreateSpace in a few weeks, and I will put up the link to it when that happens.

In the meantime, if you would like to have a print copy of Ben’s Challenge, just click on the book cover and you will be taken to the Amazon page where you can purchase it.

Review of “Ben’s Challenge”

October 4, 2011 at 4:21 am | Posted in Writing | 2 Comments
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It is wonderful when a reader thinks enough of a story to let the writer know  how it has affected them. Carol Rose, who I have not met,  read a  copy of the book that her friend had purchased from the local store, where I left some to be sold on consignment. Carol sent her comments via the email address she found on the inside cover.

I am pleased to publish this unsolicited review of Ben’s Challenge.

                        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This is a well-crafted story that remembers the pace and values of ordinary life in 1950’s rural Australia.

It’s a good read, much of the pleasure is in being taken back to a world that I recognise. It’s a book for adults who were children in the 1940s and 1950s, rather than the kids of the fast-paced aggressive computer worlds of Carmageddon and Grand Auto Theft, of paved city streets, skateboards, tiled chlorinated swimming pools, and instant “communication”.

It’s a good reminder of how our values were forged. For example, the notion of paying your way comes out of a slower life, and a more austere, yet more egalitarian society, where even if we could pay for modest necessities on a weekly basis at the grocery store, we had to save for something we wanted. If you received credit it was likely to come out of compassion, from someone who knew you, and the circumstances of your family.

Our values came from a world where you could go overnight camping (if you were a boy!) with a jumper, a piece of canvas for groundsheet, a small sack of food, a box of matches – not the sort of “lifestyle” that the Contemporary Camping Shop would have you adopt.

It’s a book that explores the growing moral sensibility of a young person, intent on uncovering the truth about his father’s death by hit-and-run driver. It’s about loyalty and truthfulness between friends who come from quite different places.

This world is one in which children were children, but capable of taking on adult responsibility within the household; a world in which the polarity between boys and girls appeared later in life; a world in which bullies could change and soften; a world in which an older man could provide friendly guidance, support, and touch to a young boy, in which it was possible to imagine mutual trust and respect between generations. 

How refreshing a comment on the new rigidities, rapidly changing codes, and shallow betrayals of contemporary society! The 1950’s weren’t “the good old days” (there were bullies, injustice, crooks, poverty, snobbery, some speedsters…atom bomb tests, persecution of aboriginal people and  “communists” and those who wanted to escape suffocating family values…) but mostly they moved at a human pace, and this pace invited reflectiveness of a sensitive, perceptive young person. The speed at which many people move and “communicate” in 2011 leaves less room for circumspection or thoughtfulness.

This is a story that resonates with truth, and I thank L.M. Visman for giving me the opportunity to review my life, its formative influences, as lived in country Australia, specifically Cessnock and Wangi Wangi, in the 1950s.

Carol Rose

~~~~Click on the book title at top right of this page to purchase a copy from Amazon~~~~

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