Tag Archives: reading

The Bright Side of Darkness – Guest Post by Jo Elizabeth Pinto


I’ve known I was destined to write even before I learned to read. I remember cuddling with my dad on the high-backed couch in our living room, feeling safe and loved, while he read aloud a library book about Osceola. The brave Seminole Indian chief fought the brutal attempts by the U.S. government to remove his people from Florida during the early 1800’s.

When my dad finished the book, I said sadly, “It’s all gone.”

“It’s not gone,” he told me, laying the book in my hands. “We can turn it around and start over at the beginning. Not tonight, though.”

From that moment on, when I discovered that words could be written down in books, captured and stored to be enjoyed over and over again, I knew I wanted to write stories of my own. Many times in school, when I was supposed to be solving math problems or studying spelling words, I’d be busy composing poetry or creating title pages and back cover descriptions for books I dreamed of one day publishing. My first poem was printed in “Jack and Jill”—a popular magazine for kids—when I was eleven years old—and after that, I caught an incurable case of author fever.

My novel, “The Bright Side of Darkness”, began as a short story assignment for a high school English class. I got an A on the assignment and fell in love with the scrappy, loyal, smart-mouthed teenagers who came to life in my imagination.

I never forgot those characters. In my twenties, in order to learn how to use a word processor, I dragged out that old short story and typed it into my first computer—a DOS machine with 5-inch floppy disks and no Internet. The writing needed a lot of work, but the characters still captivated me. I added to the story, changed and deleted weak parts and moved paragraphs and chapters around. I picked the project up and put it down many times over the next twenty-some years as life happened. I took advice and editing from countless people. I attended writing workshops and joined critique groups to hone my craft, and I never gave up on my dream. In June of 2015, I finally published my book.

In junior high, I interviewed a local author as part of an independent study project. Her advice has stuck with me for 35 years.

“When you write, think of yourself as a bird building a nest,” she said. “Your life gives you the materials for your stories. You take a twig from here, a tuft of grass from there, a bit of string from somewhere else. Keep living a life full of experiences so you never run out of building materials.”

I usually write fiction, so my characters and what happens to them is all made up. But some of the experiences and a whole lot of the underlying emotions come from what I know, what I’ve lived through, like that bird making a nest.

As a writer, I realize the importance of entertaining my readers while giving them something to think about. I want to empower my readers so they will know the deeds of one person can make a difference in the world. Drawing inspiration from my own experiences, I try to show everyday people that hope is always just an action away.

I wish writing full-time would pay my bills, but that’s not my reality yet. So till my novel hits the bestseller list, I freelance from home as a textbook proofreader. I’m also the mom of an eleven-year-old daughter–the greatest job ever!

Author Links:

“The Bright Side of Darkness” is my award-winning novel, Available in Kindle, audio, and paperback formats.
http://www.amazon.com/author/jepinto

The paperback version of my novel is available at Barnes & Noble here:
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-bright-side-of-darkness-j-e-pinto/1122183259?ean=9781512344943

Please see my author page on Facebook here:
https://m.facebook.com/authorjepinto/?ref=Footer

Please see my author blog, “Looking on the Bright Side,” on Goodreads here:
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14120336.J_E_Pinto/blog

To read guest posts about parenting in the dark, please click here:
https://blindmotherhood.com/?s=Jo+Pinto

To read guest posts on a variety of topics, please click here:
https://campbellsworld.wordpress.com/

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My Morning

In line with my new year resolution to eat healthily, I popped into my local Wetherspoon, the Postal Order (https://www.jdwetherspoon.com/pubs/all-pubs/england/london/the-postal-order-crystal-palace), and enjoyed a healthy breakfast of sausage, bacon, eggs, Hash Browns, baked beans and tomatos. Well the tomato was fresh so can, I feel sure be classified as healthy …

Following my light snack, I popped into the barbbers to have my beard trimmed. As the good man wielded the cut throat razor, I pondered idly on Sweeny Todd (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweeney_Todd). Fortunately the establishment lacks blacked out windows and as I was shaved customers came and went, so I didn’t end up in Mr Todd’s cellar or in any pies – well this time at any rate …

On leaving the barbers, I visited Upper Norwood Library (https://www.uppernorwoodlibraryhub.org), and enquired whether they would consider stocking my collection of poetry, “The Writer’s Pen and Other Poems”, (https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1730814883/). On learning that I was a local author (I live some 15 minutes walk from the library), the helpful librarian said that they liked to support local authors and took a copy of my book which will, I hope soon appear on the library’s shelves.

I shall close now as I feel the need for a further walk, as my healthy breakfast is still, quite unaccountably weighing me down!

Is there a difference as regards “reading” and “listening” to a book?

I was somewhat taken back when, several weeks ago, I heard an item on BBC Radio 4’s PM programme concerning reading. This short piece (which I have, unfortunately been unable to find online), consisted of a series of viewpoints as to what constitutes reading and, in particular whether listening to audio books can be construed as reading in the true sense of the word. One listener expressed the view that listening to audio books was not reading, and that anyone who said that they had read a book (when they had, in fact listened to it being read) was “lieing”. Now “lieing” is a very strong word and to my mind was misused by the person who employed it here.

There is, of course a difference (technically speaking) between reading and listening to a book and one may enter into a debate as to whether someone listening to a book has the same experience as the person who turns pages and absorbs the book in print or ebook format.

I, personally feel that there is something very special about handling and reading a book. I also find that my mind is more inclined to wander when listening to (rather than physically turning the pages of) a book. I will sometimes go into the kitchen to make a cup of tea while listening, miss a short segment and not go back as (in my view) I haven’t missed anything of significance. In contrast I will put a physical book down, go and make my tea and return to the bookmarked page ensuring that I have missed nothing of the plot.

Having said the above, I am a huge fan of audio books and believe that to listen to a well narrated book is, in effect to read it. So while the person who described those who say they have “read” a book (when, in fact they have listened to it being read), is technically correct. He is, in point of fact splitting hairs as to concentrate on a book being read is, to all intents and purposes to read it.

So far as my own books are concerned, I must confess that I like the idea of people possessing a physical copy of my work. I see it sitting amongst other books and the feeling of my book being enjoyed, then going to join a library of much loved books to be re-read at a later stage gives me pleasure. I am, however delighted that my latest collection of poems, “The Writer’s Pen and Other Poems” is available in paperback, Kindle and audio formats. Ultimately what matters is that my readers enjoy my work in the format that is most convenient/best suited to their needs and I certainly wouldn’t quibble where a reader to inform me that she had “read” my book when, in fact she had listened to the excellent audio narration of Alex Lee.

As ever, I would welcome the views of my readers. Do you feel that there is a difference between reading and listening to a book? And, if so in what lies that difference?

(For links to all of my books, including the print, Kindle and audio versions of “The Writer’s Pen and Other Poems” please visit my “About” page, https://newauthoronline.com/about/).

Your chance to win a signed copy of “The Writer’s Pen and Other Poems” by poet K Morris

I am offering my readers the chance to win a signed copy of my collection of poems, “The Writer’s Pen and Other Poems”, (paperback edition), https://www.amazon.com/dp/1730814883/.

The Rules:

1. Only one signed copy of “The Writer’s Pen and Other Poems” is available.
2. The first person to provide the answer to the question posed at the end of this post will receive a signed copy of my book.
3. The winner will have their prize mailed to them in December 2018.
4. Anyone (irrespective of their location) may enter.
5. To enter please send an email to newauthoronline (at) gmail dot com, (the address is given thus to defeat spam bots etc)! Please put “competition to win a copy of The Writer’s Pen” in the subject line of your email.
6. The competition closes on 28 November. No entries received after this date will be considered.

The Question

Who wrote the poem which begins thus:

“The curfew tolls the knell of parting day
The lowing herd wind slowly o’er the lea
The ploughman homeward plods his weary way
And leaves the world to darkness and to me”.

“The Writer’s Pen and Other Poems”, an update regarding the forthcoming audio edition

On 3 September 2018, I published “The Writer’s Pen and Other Poems” as an e-book, https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07GD1LBMV/.

I am pleased to announce that I have now found a narrator for the audio edition of “The Writer’s Pen” and I’m looking forward to working with Alex Lee, and hope that the audio version will be available in time for Christmas.

Alex can be found here, https://www.alexleeaudio.uk and here, https://www.acx.com/narrator?p=AUB7ELH213R4M.

For the audio edition of my collection of poems, “My Old Clock I Wind please visit https://www.amazon.com/dp/B077VZTM3V/.

My review of the Amazon Echo (Second Generation)

This review is of the Amazon Echo (Second Generation), which retails in the UK for £89.99 (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Amazon-Echo-2nd-Generation-Heather-Grey-Fabric/dp/B0749YXKYZ).

I first used the Echo in late September while visiting family in Liverpool. I was so impressed with the technology that on my return to London I purchased my own Echo.

As a registered blind person I was drawn to the Echo as one can control the device by voice. I have, thus far had the Echo read titles from my Kindle library, search for (and play) samples from audible.co.uk, find and play music and carry out searches in response to questions posed by me.

In order to gain access to the widest range of music, I signed up for Amazon Music at a cost of £3.99 a month (the first 30 days being free with the ability to cancel, without charge within that time-frame). I’ve found the selection of music extremely varied and the fact that one can simply say “play “No Angel” by Dido) and the Echo does so is wonderful.

The sound quality in terms of music, Kindle and audio books is good, however for those who wish to further enhance their experience there is (I understand) a means of attaching an additional speaker.

The Echo’s ability to respond to questions is reasonable but, on balance I think that this is one of its weaker points. For example (as someone who is interested in politics) I asked it “what was the British Union of Fascists?” and Alexa read out a relevant snipet from the web. However on asking “what is the Socialist Worker’s Party?” Alexa provided information on the US-based far-left party (with no mention of the UK-based organisation). So anyone wishing to find out about the (UK-based) SWP would be better served by trusting to Google or another search engine.

Notwithstanding the above, asking questions such as “what is the weather in central London” will render an accurate result, as will questions such as “what is the capital of Germany?”

The Echo can control smart devices. However I have no such devices in my home, therefore I was unable to put the device through it’s paces here.

When purchasing an Echo, the user should be aware that all information is being sent through to Amazon’s servers. I looked back at my interactions with Alexa on the Amazon site and saw a record of all the questions I had posed to the device (although not the answers provided). One can delete this record. However there is a risk (as with any web based activity) of one’s interactions being intercepted (although this is no greater than the danger of one’s computer being hacked when using Google or another search engine).

I was able to sign up to Amazon Music by voice (without the need to enter my Amazon password as the device is already logged into my account). On the one hand this is extremely convenient as there is no need to log on to one’s computer etc. However anyone with children should, in my view seriously consider disabling this feature (there are many stories in the media of teenagers running up bills on smart devices due to their parents not having disabled or password protected the ability to make purchases without first having to enter security credentials).

All in all I highly recommend the Echo.

Kevin

Free Verse: The Poetry Book Fair (Sunday 23 September 2018)

On Sunday 23 September, the Poetry Book Fair takes place in London.

Publishers of free verse will be present as will the Poetry Society.

For details please visit, http://www.poetrybookfair.com/