Tuesday, December 27, 2011

My 2011- A Very Good Year Indeed!!

Though most people get excited about Christmas, my favourite thing about this time of the year is New Year's. It gives me a chance to look back over the year and assess how it went and to look forward to what the new year has for me.

Link1. I had three fantastic trips this year. The first was to London in February to speak at the London School of Economics during their Space for Thought Literary Festival. See photos of the trip here. On that trip I had the opportunity to meet the fantastic writing trio of: Sue Guiney, Tania Hershman and Vanessa Gebbie. What a treat that was! A podcast of my talk can be listened to here. The trip was sponsored by Botswana's Department of Arts and Culture.

2. The second and third trips were actually combined. I set off for Lagos Nigeria in June then passed back through London on my way home to Botswana. In Lagos, I was privileged to attend the Farafina Trust Creative Writing Workshop run by Chimamanda Adichie and included other fabulous teachers such as Binyavanga Wainaina, Tash Aw and Faith Adiele. So grateful for that opportunity and I learned a lot!

3. The last trip to London was a result of me being shortlisted for The Caine Prize. I was honoured even if I was not the winner.You can read my thoughts at the time here. Fabulous things have happened to me as a direct result of that shortlisting. One of the most important is I met the owner of HopeRoad the publisher of my short story collection ebook, In the Spirit of McPhineas Lata and Other Stories. We spoke, I liked her, I sent her my manuscript and now we're working together. I also met the folks from The New Internationalist and will be writing a column for them starting in March 2012. I really need to thank Colleen Higgs the boss at Modjaji Books for submitting McPhineas for the Caine. At the time I thought she was crazy, I was sure it had no chance. Just goes to show what I know about these things and how wise Ms Higgs is.

4. I was lucky this year to have three books published. The first was a romance published by Sapphire titled Mr Not Quite Good Enough which came out in July. The second book, which is doing very well in South Africa, is the young adult, humorous book, Signed Hopelessly in Love , published by Tafelberg that came out in August. The book has since gone on to receive fantastic reviews including being mentioned in Oprah Magazine's "44 Brilliant Reads". The last is my ebook short story collection already mentioned above, In the Spirit of McPhineas Lata and Other Stories (all stories set in Botswana), which came out last week.

5. Personally, it's also been a great year. Both of my children are now at university with my son starting his first year of a Bsc degree. My daughter is in her second year of architecture. My husband and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary and were lucky enough to do that in the UK, thanks to the Caine nomination. The 11th of July, our anniversary, was also the awards dinner in Oxford. A magical day on all counts. (the photo at the top is of Mr K and I at Oxford before the dinner, taken by NoViolet Bulwayo who went on to win the prize, a worthy winner and a good photographer too!!)

6. The only downside for 2011 is that one of my goals for the year was to have my first, full length adult novel published. This I didn't achieve. I have two out there; one with an agent, one with a publisher, so perhaps that dream is meant to come true in 2012. I'll have to wait and see.

I hope your 2011 was as great as mine and I wish you a magical, prosperous and healthy 2012. PULA!!!!!!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

My Two Favourite Books For 2011

I read a lot and I've loved most of the books I've read this year, but two stand out above the others.

The first is Aminatta Forna's The Memory of Love. It was such a touching gentle way to tell the brutal story of the war in Sierra Leone.

I loved the way the author wove together the four story lines. It is sad but somehow not hopeless. Such an excellent read, it still lives actively in my mind though I read it months ago.

The other book that had a profound effect on me this year was Binyavanga Wainaina's One Day I Will Write About This Place. It is the coming of age story of a middle class boy in Kenya, a special boy who reads with an insatiable hunger and will one day go on to win the Caine Prize.

I read very little non-fiction but I can recommend this book unreservedly to everyone. The writing cracks with electricity. It is hilarious and touching. The chapter about his mother's death, written like an obituary, had me weeping so hard I had to change my shirt. You'll not have met a book like this before, I can assure you. Buy this book, come back and thank me later after you've read it.

I read everything, books from everywhere, and I'm quite pleased to find that my two favourites, the ones that stand out from all of the others, are both African stories by African writers. That makes me very happy.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Help Make a Film About the South African Border Wars

My friend, South African Janet Van Eeden Harrison, is in the process of making a movie about her brother. Janet is an established scriptwriter and has written among others the award winning movie White Tiger. Her brother was a carefree rock musician until he was conscripted into the South African Defense Force (SADF) to fight a border war in Namibia under the Apartheid regime. Many young men's lives were ruined by being forced to fight and kill people. The story of Janet's brother is just one of millions of stories from all sides of the war.

Her brother came back changed. He had a complete breakdown and eventually had to be admitted into a mental hospital. He was released and sadly committed suicide.

Janet has already written the book and the script for the movie. Now she needs our help. She needs donations of any amount. She's also looking for actors.

Go to her website to learn more. This is an important project, let's http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifmake sure it is a success.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Our Sunday Walk

After the first good rains a few weeks ago, Mr K and I took the dogs for a long walk one Sunday. We visited two ponds near our house and I was happy to find tadpoles, one of nature's magic tricks. We also saw the most magnificent flower. Sadly I forgot my camera. Neither of us had ever seen that kind of flower before coming from a very nondescript plant.

Today we went out again. The tadpoles are now at that awkward teenage stage of being a tiny frog at the front and still a tadpole at the back. They were hopping and swimming and not quite knowing what they were meant to do.

We also found the flower again, but now it had dried up but it was still wonderful. I brought one home. I decided it would make a nice Christmas decoration. I got out the silver and gold spray paint.

When it dried I hung it up above our front door, a new take on a Christmas wreath. What do you think of it? I'm quite pleased!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

In the Spirit of McPhineas Lata and Other Stories- the Book is Out Now!!!

I just got word from my publisher, HopeRoad Publishing, that my ebook short story collection, In the Spirit of McPhineas Lata and Other Stories is now out. The collection includes some of my stories set in Botswana. A few, like the title story, have been shortlisted or won prizes including Pulane's Eyes, Jacob's New Bike and The Lies We Can't Hide (which was titled The Christmas Wedding and won two prizes in the 2007 AngloPlatinum Short Story Contest).

The collection is a wonderful example of all of the residual effects of being shortlisted for the Caine Prize. I met the owner of HopeRoad at one of our readings at the British Museum. I liked her straight away. We spoke and when I got home I sent her the manuscript. She liked it and here we are.

The cover photo is from the very talented Graham of One Stone Crow.

You can BUY your copy HERE....please! You can also buy it on Amazon for your Kindle - HERE. Let me know what you think about it.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Submitting a Non-Fiction Book

One thing good about searching for an agent or a publisher for a non fiction book is that, unlike a novel, the book need not be written already. Most publishers and agents will want the following things:
• An overview of the book .
• The author’s bio/CV and marketing plan.
• A table of contents, chapter summaries and sample chapters.

As always check the website for the individual publisher or agent you’re sending to as they may want particular things and not others. Let’s look closer at each of these.

Overview of the book
Think of this as an advert for the book. It tells what your book is about. It should pull out all of the exciting things in your book. It should tell the publisher why your book is the very best on this topic and why you are the best person to write it. What will your unique take on the subject be to add to the discussion? The book overview should be about 1-2 pages long.

Author’s Bio and Marketing Plan
Your bio should talk about everything relevant, with the most important bits at the beginning. If you’re writing a book on the history of the Bakgatla royal family, you should not start your bio with where you went to primary school.
Perhaps you’ve worked in the Bakgatla kgotla your entire life or you write the historical column in their monthly newsletter. These should be at the top of your bio. Your bio needs to shout why you are THE expert on the topic that you’re writing about.
You should also include if you are a regular speaker on the topic. Mention the places where you have spoken or appeared on panels. This is what we call the writer’s platform. Other parts of your platform include your presence on the internet.

Do you have a Twitter account? Do you have a professional website or blog? How many visitors do these get per month? As for marketing, for a non-fiction book the publisher will assume that you already have a platform. Perhaps your book is about overcoming rape.
You might have groups you work with that have already mentioned that they would buy the book when it comes out, tell the publisher this. In this section, talk about what you have done or are currently doing to build up fans and potential book Know your competition. Maybe your non-fiction book is on life counselling.
There are hundreds of such books on the market. Talk about those books and what they are lacking that yours has. Talk about who you expect to buy your book. Is your book a how-to guide to setting up a business in Botswana? Is it for foreigners wanting to come to Botswana and start businesses or for Batswana entrepreneurs? Show the publisher you know who you’re writing for.

Table of Contents, Chapter Overviews and Sample Chapters
Most agents and publishers will require a detailed table of contents (with appendices) so that they know what topics will be covered in the book. Also you’ll need to write chapter overviews for each chapter.
These should be written in the style you intend to use for the book. Will your book be casual and friendly or academic? As for the sample chapter that you send, it should be written exactly as you want it to be in the final book. It needn’t be the first chapter; you rather choose the most exciting chapter in the book.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Things to Look Out for In Contracts

In Botswana, as it is in most of Africa, as writers we operate without agents.
What this means is that you have no one in your corner who is familiar with contracts. You are on your own unless you have money to hire a lawyer but even then it can be problematic because I doubt most lawyers in Botswana are that familiar with the publishing business and publishing contracts and their implications.

To compound that problem, by the time a writer gets a publishing contract they have spent years writing a book and have had piles of rejections and are so thankful that finally a publisher likes their book they will sign just about anything out of sheer gratitude. But take my advice, once you get the contract, turn on your business mind or you will be regretting it for a very long time.

I’m not saying publishers are out to get you, they’re not. Publishers want what you want- to sell many copies of your book. But in the end they are businesses, they want to maximise their profit margin. Your publisher has likely said many lovely things but if it is not written down in the contract it is not legally binding. There will be no, “…but you said…” after you’ve signed on the dotted line.

So let’s look at a few things regarding contracts that you should pay attention to.

1. A contract is a suggestion
When the publisher gives you that contract they are showing you what they want. It is the beginning of negotiations. Negotiations don’t mean that you are fighting. You often hear publishers saying they don’t like working with difficult writers. Negotiating the terms of your contract is not being difficult. You need to make sure what you sign is what you want to be signing. Ask for everything you want. The publisher will then say yes or no. If there are things that you must have and the publisher is unwilling to budge on them, you need to keep in mind that it is better to walk away from a bad contract than to sign one.

2. Know what area of the world will be covered
When signing a contract for a book, you are handing over the copyright for that book to the publisher. If that publisher only has the capacity to sell books in Southern Africa, then why would you give them the copyright to sell the book in the entire world? Publishers want world rights, they’re optimistic that something might happen to allow them to sell books everywhere. You don’t need to wait for that. As a writer you can insist that they take only the rights for the area where they are able to sell now. In this way, you can sell the copyright to another publisher for the same book who can sell the book in the other places the first publisher can’t. If the publisher is only able to sell books in Botswana, you cross out “world rights” on the contract and write “Botswana rights only”.

3. Watch Out for Ebooks
The world of publishing is in flux. Things are changing on a daily basis. In Africa, ebooks are not so big, but they are exploding overseas. Many of our contracts include electronic books under the same contract as print books. Check if this is the case with your contract. This is not the best scenario unless the ebooks are in their own clause that stipulates the royalty rate separately. The standard royalty rate right now for ebooks is 25%. I’ve found most contracts in Southern Africa at least, want to give authors the same rate as print books, normally 10-15%. The reason ebooks get a hire rate is because they are usually produced after the print book, so all cover design and editing costs should have been taken up by the print book and also they are usually sold at a lower rate.

4. Check the Definition of Out of Print
For print books after a certain time the publisher will no longer print nor distribute your book. When this happens, the copyright should revert back to the author. Now with print on demand (POD) a publisher trying to be funny, can say the book is still available for sale when in fact it really isn’t so that they can retain the copyright, just in case. Make sure this clause is crystal clear.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Story for AIDS Day

Only to Believe

Matlapeng blames himself for her death. Things might have been different if only he had done the right thing from the beginning. She came to him that icy day in a controlled panic. “I’ve got the results,” she said.” I’m positive.” It meant he was likely positive too. They’d been lovers for more than five years, but she was the one who was sick. “I’ve thought about it. Mosadi knows of a church. It’s up north near the border.”

“Tebby, you know it’s not like that.” He took her small pretty face in his hands. He loved her with desperation at that moment, like a favourite toy that he’d soon have to give away. “It’s a virus. Didn’t they speak about ARV’s at the clinic?”

She stood up and began pacing, annoyed that he couldn’t see it her way. “Yes, they told me all about that, but Mosadi knows better. She’s been HIV positive for three years. She says those medicines are poison. We need to go to her church, the African Church of Hope. There’s a minister there, he has magic. Mosadi’s healthy now; she’s cured!” She was so hopeful and he was too sad and lost, so he gave in.

A week later, they were in the car pulling up to the church, a white painted cinderblock building in the middle of the mophane bush. The parking lot was packed with cars - from shiny Land Rovers to rusted out Hiluxes - people from all over had come to Pastor Nkgonne. They were searching for the answer they wanted; the truth of it had no relevancy.

“They say there’s no cure, but God has a cure!” he preached from the front.

“Amen!” the crowd shouted.

“I am here to tell you that God is almighty. There is nothing that he won’t fix if only you believe completely.”

“Hallelujah!” People rushed up to the front throwing money into the overflowing basket. Their payment for salvation.

Mosadi led Tebogo to the front of the excited crowd. Pastor Nkgonne placed his huge hands on Tebogo’s head, nearly covering it. He lowered his face and spoke quickly in a mumble that couldn’t be heard from where Matlapeng sat. Then he pushed her away, and she fell back into Mosadi’s arms. “She’s cured!” the Pastor declared. “She’s a believer, my sisters and brothers. For believers, there is nothing like illness.” The church erupted into ululations.

He ran to Mosadi and they carried Tebogo to the car. She slept until they arrived home at their flat in Gaborone. She looked radiant when she woke. For a few hours, Matlapeng was sure that Pastor Nkgonne had cured her that they would be okay, that she wouldn’t die.


“Let’s pray,” she said as the TB wracked her body and he would kneel on the floor next to her bed taking her skeletal hand in his. While praying, his mind drifted to how he needed to get her to the clinic, how he needed to get her to take the medicines that he was convinced would save her. “Amen,” she said weakly.

She opened her eyes and looked down at him next to her bed. “Please, Matlapeng, you need to have faith. I know what you want me to do, but Pastor Nkgonne says that I’ll be insulting God, not believing in His powers if I take the medicine. He’ll cure me. It’s only that my faith is not strong enough. Will you help me? Have faith Matlapeng and we’ll be cured.”


On a lovely September morning when the blue sky echoed with birdsong and Matlapeng was sure all would be well, Tebogo died.

Four months gone and the guilt still weighs heavy on his heart. It eats at him. He’s losing weight and coughing non-stop. He knows what he must do. He needs to take the action that he should have; the action that would have saved Tebogo’s life. This time, he’ll do the right thing. He parks the car. He has complete faith in his choice. This time a life would be saved.

Opening the heavy door, he walks towards the front of the church where Pastor Nkgonne waits.
For another tribute to this day, stop by NoViolet Bulawayo's blog. Link

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I'm Off to Music Camp!

On Sunday I'll be off to Botswana Music Camp in spite of the blocks that kept getting put up to stop me.

In the middle of the year, after many years of sponsorship, Standard Chartered Bank decided to stop sponsoring Music Camp and we were all told it was cancelled. Sadness ensued. After 25 years, the institution started by the likes of Hugh Masekela was to be no more. Boo- hoo! But then in from stage left, on a white horse, rode Arts and Culture. "No!" they said and wrote a cheque for a whopping P150,000- and voila! Music Camp was back on track.

But for me that was not the end of my worries. I play trumpet, badly at the best of times, and when I go to Music Camp I look forward to being part of the band. This is my only time all year I get to play with anyone except myself. This year I was afraid I wouldn't be able to play with the band because of my tooth. One of my front teeth has been trying to fall out for about two years now. During my trip to Lagos/London earlier this year things got worse. The only option now is to eventually pull it out and put the fake one screwed into my head. I've put this off because a friend of mine said they're not as strong as the natural tooth.

The way I was playing trumpet was affected by this tooth's movement. I was finding it hard to get most any note, especially above middle C. But last night a wonderful thing happened. I was practicing and thought maybe I could find something on the internet that could help me play with my crooked tooth. This is when I found a video by Charlie Porter, an accomplished American trumpeter, who showed me that, in fact, I'd been playing wrong- forever. He showed me the correct way to position my mouth on the mouthpiece and suddenly there is no more pressure on my tooth and no more pain. Thank you Mr Charlie Porter!!

So I'm off to Music Camp for a week with my new embouchure and ready to have fun! See you on the other side! (Next week I've set up some posts from my weekly column in The Voice)Link

Monday, November 28, 2011

My Book in Oprah Magazine you say?? YES!!!!!

My book is in the December issue of South Africa's O Magazine (page 79)! It is "44 Brilliant Reads"! My book Signed, Hopelessly in Love is recommended under "Literature for Little Sisters" though I think little brothers might like it too.
Seriously excited about this!!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Review of Signed, Hopelessly in Love at Saltwater Girl Magazine

Saltwater Girl Magazine has a great review of my book Signed, Hopelessly in Love in their December issue.

"This is such a sweet book about love and ambition in high school. .... A lovely read."

And they're giving away three free copies. Go and try your luck HERE.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I'm Up On the Roof With The Monkeys Today!!

Today is my last blog book tour stop for my young adult book Signed, Hopelessly in Love and I'm up north in Maun visiting my friend Val at her fantastic blog Monkeys on the Roof. Here's an excerpt of the interview:Link

Val: It is wonderful to read a work of fiction that takes you specifically into the lives of young people in Botswana. Although you have touched lightly on some of the bigger issues that they may have to deal with in their young lives – the rest presents them more or less as typical teenagers.

Me: Yes, some kids in Botswana have tough lives. Just like some kids in UK and some kids in America. I tire quickly with the much repeated “sad African tale” and I try my best not to perpetrate it. Not that I ignore our problems in Botswana, I know that they’re there and in many places in my books and short stories I address them. But I want truth. I think we need to be careful to show the truth, the complete truth not the CNN/donor NGO truth. In Botswana we have fun, we love each other, we laugh, we watch TV, we eat cake, we dance, we dream of Prince Charmings, we want to fly to the moon- we live full interesting, loving lives like humans everywhere. It is not all AIDS and poverty and problems. In fact that is just a small part of it really.

Read the rest HERE. Please stop by and leave a comment we'd love to hear from you!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Post-Post Colonial Writing in Africa -Podcast

I've not written anything here about Binyavanga Wainaina's book One Day I Will Write About This Place because I've already written two short reviews about it and have spoken to almost every human being I've been in contact with about it. For a writer, from anywhere not just Africa, it is a must read. It will reteach you what you knew before others taught you what they know. It will remind you that you need to write your way. Binyavanga's way is so unique and wonderful I wanted to shout with joy at his courage. Earlier this year I had my "Junot Diaz Revelation" that made me think quite differently about my own writing. This was a furthering and deepening of that.

But beyond my own personal revelations brought to light through Binyavanga's book, there are many lessons to be learned by the Africa is a Country Brigade, the overt and the covert. I think a lot of interesting issues come up in this Guardian podcast. The first part is Binyavanga speaking about his book, reading a bit of it. And then Lizzy Attree, the new Caine Prize administrator, and Zimbabwean author Brian Chikwava discuss some of the issues that come up from Binyavanga's interview. Though it's long it is definitely worth a listen.

Listen to the podcast here.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Legalising Prostitution in Botswana

Recently the issue of legalising prostitution in Botswana has come to the fore. It seems very odd to me that people feel it's important to legalise prostitution but are not willing to make abortions legal. The prisons are full of women who had no option but to seek an illegal abortion. But yet they speak about women's rights.

I am not for the legalisation of prostitution. I think instead, the prostitute side of prostitution should be decriminalised. Why should people forced into such work because of the economic situation and structural discrimination be put in jail? I'm not against the legalisation of prostitution from some moralistic Christian perspective, it is from a feminist perspective that I take this position.

In Botswana I just cannot accept that prostitution is an occupation that women are willingly choosing. With our high level of unemployment and poverty women (primarily but even men) are forced to sell all they have left- their bodies. I also wonder in this debate- where are the women? Why is it the men who are speaking for the legalisation of prostitution?

The debate stems from attempts to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS in the country. I think we can do that by decriminalising prostitution so that women can come forward without the fear of being arrested. At the same time the legal apparatus should now focus on the men that buy these women and the pimps involved in organising them. Pressure should be put on them with arrests.

Many of the prostitutes in Botswana are foreigners. I can't find any statistics about sex trafficking in the country but I would expect it is there.

Legalisation will increase the sex business in Botswana and make it a magnet for people looking for prostitutes. In Norway once prostitution was legalised it increased by 25%. And now since most Norwegian women (who have access to better jobs) don't want to be prostitutes, the big sex work lobby groups are pushing for foreign women to be allowed into the country to fill the vacancies. This is a recipe for the trafficking of women, sadly done legally.

The best way to help women in prostitution is to offer them good alternatives. Prostitution in most cases is the only choice. If there comes a point, where the problems of poverty and sexual abuse in Botswana were magically solved, when everyone who wanted a job that earned them a living wage got one, then and only then would it be right to legalise prostitution. Until then any attempt to legalise prostitution would be one that instead legalised the continued abuse of women and that's wrong.

What do you think? What's the best way to deal with prostitution in a country with high levels of unemployment and poverty? I'm interested in hearing your view.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Heat And The Craziness

We've had weeks now it seems of temperatures above 35C. I know for sure a few days were 40C maybe more. And the rain is just passing us by. Is this global warming? If so I think we need to make a serious plan. We need to somehow adjust our mindset to allow for the fact that rain is not part of life here. Otherwise I'm sitting in an endless state of anticipation, and this with the heat,is not conducive to sanity. But it seems I'm not the only one. We've had wild, crazy , scary things going on in Bots the last few weeks.

The one I can't quite get out of my mind is the flooding of rivers up north that has released a crocodile farm of crocodiles into the Thamalakane River and its tributaries. Some were found but some were not. They set out cages with chickens inside to capture the crocodiles live. In one case, a hungry dog got in before the crocodile but he wasn't heavy enough to activate the mechanism that closed the door. But the crocodile that followed him in was. Now they were both caught inside a tiny cage- dog and croc. Luckily the dog had sense of his situation and started howling at the top of his voice until a human came and saved him before the croc had him for supper.

They've given up on capturing any more of the crocodile farm crocodiles. But now there are these crocodiles, not quite wild, not quite not, out swimming trying to survive in the wild. Now the other day I read in the paper a woman was washing clothes by the river and put her baby on a blanket nearby. Before she knew it a crocodile had jumped from the river and the baby was gone- for ever. I can't even imagine the terror of such a thing happening. They're not sure it was one of the crocodile farm crocodiles but it is suspected.

The other crazy sad news this week was the woman in Maun who apparently changes into a snake- but she actually doesn't. Someone started a rumour and the village went crazy. People started crowding at her house demanding to see her. She was scared (rightly so) and refused to leave her house. Reporters were sent in to see what was going on. They went back to the crowd saying it was all a hoax and the woman was just a normal woman. This apparently incensed the crowd, some saying they'd burn her house down if she didn't come out. Eventually the police had to come to break up the mob. Some needed force to get the message. The whole thing has made me very sad. I wonder how this woman will be able to live in her home after all of that.

So the heat continues, I'm two degrees above melting, and I wonder what new craziness will happen this weekend. Or will the rain finally fall.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

My Second to last Blog Book Tour Stop- Straight from Hel

Straight from Hel is a fantastic blog all about writing and books. Always informative and today the owner, Helen Ginger, is hosting me to discuss my book Signed, Hoplessly in Love. Here's a bit of our discussion:

Helen: When you started writing Signed, Hopelessly in Love, was the ending already decided or did the full plot develop as you wrote?

Lauri: The thought that was the seed of this book was how we make mistakes and how we think they’re the end of the world when they’re really not. And how this is amplified by a million for teenagers....

Stop by and read the rest of the interview and leave a comment to let me know what you think. Thanks Helen!!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Running is Not For Cowards

A few weeks ago, my blogging friend, Gutsy Writer, asked us to write a true story about the time when we did something gutsy. She's put my story, "Running is Not for Cowards", up this week. Here's the first bit:

That day, I got in a stranger’s car and left-forever. It wasn’t a difficult move. In retrospect I guess it was dangerous, I guess some might have said it was reckless. But it was the choice that brought me here, to this point, to this life I have now. The journey started when I was 16. I was running away from home and it was the most important thing I’ve ever done.

Read the rest HERE. Let me know what you think of it.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Helen Ginger Reviews Signed, Hopelessly in Love

In preparation for Wednesday's blog book tour stop at Straight from Hel, Helen Ginger has posted a lovely review of Signed, Hopelesly in Love. Though she's all the way in Texas and the book is set in Botswana, she thinks the book would be ideal for any pre-teen or early teenager anywhere in the world. She says-

Kubuitsile lives in Botswana and the book is set there. I know little about Botswana and loved getting to read about the people there, as well as the setting. Life there is different from here – and yet, not so different. Parents love their children there as much as they do here. Botswanan kids want the same things American kids want. And childhood friendships are lasting, no matter where you live.

Read the rest of the review HERE.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pop Culture Reference in YA Fiction- My Take on It

A few months ago, some YA writers in South Africa on LitNet were discussing this topic should they include lots of pop culture references in their stories to make them more relevant. The editor asked if I would like to be part of the debate and I gladly jumped in.

Here's an excerpt:

It reminded me of a session I attended at the Cape Town Book Fair, where British YA writer Kevin Brooks was asked about getting the lingo right in his books, asked if he did extensive research, since he was clearly no longer a teenager. He said no, because he saw no interest in getting the lingo right. As Partridge has stated and Kevin Brooks has concurred, what is in and what is out moves at lightning speed. The rate of the publishing world is more snail-paced, so logistics alone say you’ll get it wrong. And as Kevin Brooks said that day in Cape Town, when you try to be hip and you get it wrong, it’s not nice. Really not nice.
Read the rest HERE.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Caught in a Waiting Pattern

Right now I'm in that odd place, a place I'm not at all comfortable with- waiting and finished.

I'm waiting for all sorts of things. Like most writers I'm waiting to hear about contest results. I'm waiting to hear about submissions I've sent out. I'm waiting for a big project to start. I'm waiting for the ending of this episode of the sitcom in which I star called "Searching for an Agent".

And I'm waiting to find out what the White Frog which has been living in my office for the last three weeks wants with me. "What?? What do you want???" Anyone speak Frog??

So on one side waiting is crushing me like an empty tin can in a room with high pressure. But normally when I wait I keep busy with projects so the waiting doesn't crush me quite so much. I always have projects going. I was sure I had plenty to do at least until the end of the year but it looks like I didn't. I finished the major edits to The Vanishings, my first book in the Dambuza Chakalisa detective series. I've sent it out to a few places and am ...(you guessed it) waiting. I also finished my attempt at writing in the romance/thriller genre, Love in the Shadows, and have sent it out into Submissionland too. My desk is scarily empty.

I don't want to start a new project now because I'm waiting to see if the big project I've been asked to work on gets the go ahead, which I hope happens soon. Yesterday in a complete fit of madness, I cleaned my entire house. That's not normal behaviour. I'm not sure it's healthy. Today I even trawled around looking for a few freelance gigs to fill time and I'm so over freelancing. Things are getting serious.

Waiting- does it do your head in like it does mine? What do you do to distract yourself? Please, help this poor writer.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Making an Impact

Someone on Facebook the other day put a status saying (I'm paraphrasing) that if a raindrop falls in the ocean, no one notices, but if it falls on a lotus leaf it is a beautiful thing. It's all about where you decide to shine.

I keep thinking about this. I'm in an odd place right now with my writing. I want to be successful and on some levels I am, but living in Botswana, or any African country really, there is this pressure that says you're only a "real" writer when you're published in America or in UK.

When I was in London in February I had a peek at what being an African writer published in UK can look like. I know the writer can have some say about how they want things to go, but I didn't like what I saw. It was a bit like a raindrop falling in the ocean. Whereas for me right now it's a bit like the raindrop on the lotus leaf. Or is it just big fish in a microscopic pond?

My goal from the beginning was to make a livable income from my writing, from my fiction if I can. I know many find this impossible, writers better than me. But still it's my goal. I care little about fame, in a perfect world only my words and books would go out into the world. I'm trying to find the way to my goal. I don't want books published that are drops in an ocean. What is the point of that?

Finding the way through this industry which is currently in so much flux is complicated. Should I stick with my publishers in Botswana and South Africa? Should I try to get an agent overseas? Should I instead try to get my books published in other African countries? And what about ebooks? I don't know the right way and right now I'm sort of going in all directions. A crazy way, maybe an inefficient way, but I'm hoping one of the paths will show that it is the right one for me. In any case, for now, I'm happy to be writing and finding some success.

I'm curious what you think about this?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Khama Government to No Longer Recognise Bakgatla Paramount Chief Kgafela Kgafela II

In a turn that will likely have serious repercussions, according to an article in the Midweek Sun the government has taken a decision to stop recognising the paramount chief of the Bakgatla, Kgosi Kgafela. This follows two instances where cabinet ministers showed up at the kgotla and were refused permission to speak there. They were told that they could not hold meetings at the kgotla without the kgosi being present.

The Bakgatla tribe live in Botswana and across the border in South Africa.

I wrote before about the controversy around Kgosi Kgafela but since then things have grown quite tense between the Bakgatla chief and the Khama administration. Kgafela was brought before the court for "unlawful flogging" and the case is on going. At one point he appeared to have escaped from police custody. And throughout it all, Bakgatla have stood by their kgosi.

This move by the government seems rash in a country based on consultation. We wait and see what the response will be.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Five Things to Do In Central Botswana

I live in Mahalapye which is in the Central District of Botswana, the largest district in the country. Most tourists zip through without stopping, heading to the watery north with the Chobe River and the Okavango Delta. But we also have some nice hidden treasures you shouldn't miss.

1. The Khama III Memorial Museum in Serowe
Serowe is the capital of the largest tribe in Botswana, the Bangwato. The history of the royal family is housed at the Khama III Memorial Museum. Our most celebrated writer, Bessie Head, also made her home in Serowe and the Museum has a special room dedicated to the writer. The thing I love best is the collection of photos of Sir Seretse Khama, our first president, and his family. The love story of President Khama and his wife Ruth is a touching one. Because she was white the British colonial government prompted by the apartheid regime in South Africa didn't like the marriage and did everything to stop it from happening and then frustrated them at every point. There is a photo that I love to look at there. It is of a pregnant Ruth standing on the dusty Mahalapye airstrip waving at a plane passing overhead. During this time, Ruth was trapped in Botswana and the colonial authorities would not let Seretse enter the protectorate. She had had word that they had changed his mind and he would be arriving on a plane in Mahalapye so she went there and waited but at the last minute he was denied permission to land.

There are many lovely photos there and a nice stop for an hour or two.

2. Old Phalatswe/ Phothophotho
Before the Bangwato moved to Serowe the capital for about 15 years was at Old Phalatswe. It can be found by going out the Martin's Drift Road toward the South African border and turning left to Malaka. Once in Malaka, you need to go to the kgotla to get permission. The National Museum is trying to formalise the area so you may be lucky to find a museum official who can give you directions.

For its time Old Phalatswe was a very modern town. It had a business district and was a stop on the stagecoach trek north. Now you can find the ruins of compounds and the once I suspect magnificent London Missionary Church.

After moving around the ruins you can climb down to the (normally) dry river bed behind the ruins of the minister's house. Follow the shady river left to its end and you'll find the beautiful Photophoto waterfall. Like an ampitheater the rock cliffs tower above you often with baboons at the top watching to see what you're up to. It is a beautiful place for a picnic.

3. Kaytee's Takeaway
In Mahalapye, Kaytee's Takeway is an institution. People heading north for years knew that it was the place to stop for a good dose of greasy food in the form of fish and chips or magwinya (fat cakes) or koko ya Setswana, or as we call it in our house- running chicken. If you're coming from the south, it's located right on the A1, on your left after the first robots.

4. Bush Walks
The Central District has some of the most beautiful areas for gentle walks in the bush. If you're a bird watcher, don't forget to bring your binoculars. Our family has had great walks around Mahalapye, Shoshong, Bonwapitse, Lecheng, and areas around Machaneng. You can stop your car most anywhere and find a lovely place to stretch your legs. A good place to start might be a walk up the dry Mahalapye River in Mahalapye with its wonderful granite boulders or the Lotsane River in Palapye.

5. Khama Rhino Sancaturay
One of my favourite places is the Khama Rhino Sanctuary located north of Serowe on the Orapa Road past Paje. You can go for the day or spend the night at one of their campsites or chalets. They also have a picnic spot with braii facilities. The park is a good size so you always see animals. There are white and black rhino as well as giraffe, zebra, waterbuck, kudu, springbok, ostrich, warthogs and much more. If you're a bird watcher, this is a fantastic place. We like to wake up early and bring a thermos of tea to the bird hide and wait to see what comes along. It really is a tranquil lovely place.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

IBBY SA Reviews Signed, Hopelessly in Love

IBBY is the International Board on Books for Young People and the South African branch reviewed my book in its latest newsletter! The review is copied below. Here is the link to the review. LinkLink

Signed, Hopelessly in Love, Lauri Kubuitsile (Tafelberg, 2011)
I can quite understand why this novel was a finalist in the 2009 Sanlam Prize for Youth Literature: Lauri Kubuitsile has her own voice: the writing has an honesty and directness which appeals.

In a school environment two friends Nono and Amo share their lives – Nono an athlete, Amo the school journalist who gets the assignment to do a column under the pseudonym Aunt Lulu. She answers the letters of readers with personal problems.

Amo is in love with the head boy John Gababonwe, and when she receives an anonymous letter asking for advice by somebody who is hopelessly in love with a girl, she immediately assumes that it is from him, and that she needs to tell him that she likes him too!

The author presents the reader with a believable mixture of events and situations: school sport, studies, relationships, gossip, and the usual competitiveness and jealousy – Nono’s attempt to win a gold medal for the school is hampered by a student seeking revenge by attempting to injure her during a race; the Pig’s 1965 National Athletics trophy gets stolen, and then there is Amo making a complete fool of herself …

As she says: “They can cure terrible diseases, move genes around between plants and one day put a Motswana girl on the moon, and they still haven’t invented the invisibility button? Where is science when we need it?” A good read.

Monday, October 24, 2011

I Could Learn A lot From Pigeons

We have a pair of Cape Turtle Doves that like to frequent the birdbath and bird feeder in our garden. Since both are outside my writing office window, I spend a lot of time watching them. I've realised I can learn quite a few things from them.

1. Watch out for Your Partner
The doves rarely both go to the birdbath at the same time. One will tentatively drink while the other sits in the nearby tree to keep watch. As one half of a partnership, sometimes I lose track of this. I forget, and become selfish and think only of me. But looking out for my partner is part of the commitment I've made- "I'll be there for you". Keeping that commitment is part of honouring my word.

Learn to Adapt to New Situations
All species of doves come from the rock dove or the common pigeon we all know. Pigeons are probably one of the most adaptable animals around. They can be found on barren rock cliffs and in most cities in the world. For some odd reason, humans seem to despise them for that very reason- their adaptability. We instead cherish the most rare, the most vulnerable. But evolutionarily that makes no sense. The pigeon should be our champion. Environments changes, we all could live a life with less stress by learning to adapt quickly to new situations. I know I could.

3. Don't Bully Others

Doves are among the largest birds that come to our birdbath, but I've never once seen them trouble another bird. This can't be said for starlings or masked weavers. Even a sparrow will occasionally try to chase others away. But the doves just mind their own business. No matter how crowded the birdbath might get (and this time of year when it is very dry and extremely hot it can get pretty crowded) the doves just move over and make more space. It could solve so many problems if us humans could do the same. Just move over and make a bit more space for the guy next to you.

4. Mate for Life
Cape Turtle Doves, like most pigeons, mate for life. I am neither a religious person nor conservative, but I've found that making a commitment to another person, an unbreakable commitment, helps me to have a firm foundation from which to do more experimental things with the rest of my life. I can risk other things because I know I have a safe place to retreat to. I also learn more about me by having that constant changing relationship with another person. Maybe this is not for everyone, but I know it works for me.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Farafina Class of 2011- 20 Day Challenge!

People who follow this blog know that earlier this year I was in Lagos for the Farafina Trust Creative Writing Workshop run by Chimamanda Adichie as well as others. Our group, dubbed Linguistic Playfulness, is trying to continue the work started in Lagos. We have a closed Facebook group and a blog open to the public where we try out different things and support each other on the bumpy writing journey.

To keep us writing, we launched a 20 Day Challenge that started four days ago. Each day one of our members must post a story on the blog. Please stop by and see what my classmates and I are up to. My day was yesterday and I posted a very short flash fiction titled "Breaking up the Silence".

Lots of talented writers in the group. We'll be happy if you stop by and leave a comment. Link

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Second Blog Book Tour Stop!!

I'm on the move again! This time to Kasane Botswana, way up north along the beautiful Chobe River. How I wish I was going for real not just virtually. Border Town Notes is hosting the second stop on my blog book tour for my YA adult book, Signed, Hopelessly in Love.

Karen the owner of Border Town Notes had this to say about the book:

"I actually found it to be really different, compared to the more usual type of high school stories that I've read in the past. Having been part of the adventure of raising two teenagers in my own life, I have great affection for teens, and enjoy reading about them. I have also maintained my taste in young adult literature, and this young adult book was a really excellent read! I devoured it speedily, really enjoying this endearing young lady and her world populated with amusing characters, and sprinkled with snippets of absolutely typical Botswana life! "

Read more including her interview with me HERE.
Thanks Karen!!!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Photos of my Life Today

It's spring in Botswana, and that means the jacarandas are blooming. We have three in our garden and they are looking gorgeous right now, my photos don't do them justice.

The purple flowers decorate the lawn.

Senor Ramon has a new game. He sits in the little cubbyhole at the back of the lawn chair (what is the purpose of that space anyway?). And he waits. Then when I sit down, it is best when I'm from the pool in my swimsuit, he pokes his little paw through the slot at the back and gives me a few swipes on the bum. Fun game for him. Not so much for me.

Below is Cat's Eye, the Cactus. He arrived at our house hardly bigger than a thumb, bought by Giant Teenager No. 1. When she left for boarding school, I was left with Cat's Eye. Immediately he began to grow a strange shaped head. When I built my office, he moved here with me. For a while he was Cactus Man but it didn't suit him and he went back to Cat's Eye...and his odd head kept growing. Then in the last few months he started bending over, as if searching for light.

Today I decided the problem was getting serious and I've planted him outside where there is plenty of sun. I hope he goes back to being straight and tall. This bended posture gives me a backache to look at. I'll keep you posted.

Another problematic plant is our banana tree. We had lovely bananas that produced the sweetest fruits, but our Tenants From Hell decided to cut them down. Mr K then planted these, which have refused to grow, probably they know what happens to healthy bananas in this garden, they've heard the rumour. But now to add insult to injury, the masked weaver bird is back and he has chosen the few banana leaves on the decrepit banana tree as his building material. As you can see he's nearly stripped it completely and his nest is not finished. Oh poor banana tree!

That's today in photos. Now it's time to get to work!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

And My Virtual Book Tour Begins in Australia!!!

Today is the first day of my blog book tour for Signed, Hopelessly in Love. I'm over at Selma in the City. Selma is a long time blog/internet friend. She has a beautiful blog where she writes touching posts about her life in Australia.

Please stop by and leave a comment or question. You can find the blog HERE.

Thanks Selma!!!

Next stop- Kasane Botswana at Bordertown Notes. Link

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I Miss Fatalism

I live in a fairly large village in the Central District of Botswana on the eastern edge of the country. The village is called Mahalapye, though its real name is Mahalatswe; the modern name the spelling that seemed more sensible to British tongues. It is named after the normally dry river that runs through it. Mahalapye is not very pretty. It’s not so exciting. It doesn’t even have a very colourful history having grown from a railway stop where Cecil John Rhodes’s trains from Cape to Cairo (actually Cape to Harare) would refuel. Though it is not the most captivating place, it is a typical Botswana village, it’s home, and I love it.

Perhaps the nondescript, unexciting way of my village is the reason why when the TV man asked me what I missed about Africa when I was away, I first drew a blank. I was in London having been short-listed for the Caine Prize. The winner had already been decided the night before so the TV man was asking us, the rest of the writers, the losers, other types of questions, our answers meant to be sprinkled around those of the winner, to add local colour about the continent.

Like so many before him, though he knew Africa was made of lots of different countries, the TV man hadn’t made the leap that inside of each of those countries would be found so many different types of people and lives and ways of being. So he asked me again, “What do you miss most about Africa when you’re away?”

I hesitated. Africa? Am I meant to say lions and elephants? Sand? Tropical rain forests? Hunger? So I asked- “Do you mean Botswana? Do you mean Mahalapye?” He nodded. But that didn’t help, still I was blank.

By that time I’d been away from home for almost a month. I’d been first to Lagos and then to London and I was missing home desperately, but I couldn’t put my finger on one thing I missed concretely. And then I said it. It just came out, and my mouth ran, and my brain tried to keep up and I watched the whole thing as if the person speaking was not me.

“The fatalism,” the woman said, the one who sounded very much like me.

The TV man was not pleased. “The fatalism?” he asked, his face twisted into a scowl.

I was sure we’d got the whole thing wrong, me and her, but the woman continued as if she had thought about this for some time when I know for certain she hadn’t. “Yes, the fatalism. There’s something very nice about just accepting that things happen. That’s what I miss.”

The TV man was still not pleased. “But fatalism can be a bad thing too.”

The woman accepts that but still sticks by her answer. The TV man, frustrated, moves on. He asks her to describe Africa in one word, she says without thinking, in a way I find very reckless, “Space”. Again the TV man gives her his look of disapproval and I’m sure she’s messed it up completely.

The next day I talk to the other writers and find that indeed her answers were not correct. Africa in one word? Diversity, they say. I ask nothing else for fear I’ll learn the truth about my failure. In any case, the TV man will just edit it out, that’s what TV people do when they don’t like certain parts. It’ll be fine.

But later I think further about the answers the woman who was interviewed gave. As I dig around in the crevices of my mind I begin to see that, in fact, she had got my answers correct.

I grew up in America. America, if nothing else, is a land of people looking for answers. Unanswered questions are not allowed. There is a reason for everything and if you can’t find it you’re just not trying hard enough.

In Botswana, people accept that life sometimes goes wrong. Problems happen. Sometimes things don’t work. Sometimes the outcome you expect is not the one that you’ll get. It’s just the way it is.

There’s something very comforting about that. It alleviates a lot of responsibility. I suppose that’s what the TV man doesn’t like, but for me it sets me free. Not every action requires you to be ready to accept the entire burden of responsibility, so you can be freer to make choices that might mean things don’t work out. I don’t need to search and search for the reason behind everything. I don’t need to worry about things I can’t control. I can go forward and accept that sometimes things won’t go my way and that’s fine. And in that embracing of fatalism is where I find all the space I need.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Join My Blog Book Tour!!!

I'm going on a virtual book tour for my new young adult book, Signed, Hopelessly in Love and I hope you'll go with me. Below is the schedule with links to the wonderful blogs I'll be visiting.

October 12 :Selma in the City

October 19:Bordertown Notes

November 2:
Myne Whitman Writes

November 16: Straight From Hel

November 23:Monkeys on the Roof

The way it works is that each of these bloggers have read the book. They will ask me different questions about the book and other aspects of my writing. And then on the day they put up the interview and we discuss the book there and give links to readers interested in buying it. Much like a real book tour but easier (and cheaper) for someone like me living in Botswana. I hope you'll support me and stop in at the blog stops and leave a comment to say you were there.

And thanks in advance to all of the wonderful bloggers who'll be hosting me and my book!
Ke aleboga le kamoso!!!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Silence of "The 1st Genocide of the 20th Century" in Namibia

The silence around last week's repatriation of 20 skulls from Germany to Namibia is a sad commentary on an even sadder period in history.

The skulls belonged to four women, fifteen men and a boy of about 3 or 4 years old. They were part of an estimated 300 heads that were removed from dead bodies of members of the Herero and Nama tribes who died in Namibian concentration camps, particularly the one located on Shark Island in Luderitz, between 1904-1908. The heads were taken to Germany for research done by a German anthropologist, Paul Bartels, who wanted to use the skulls to prove that white people were superior to black people.

The Germans ruled Namibia from 1884-1915. In 1904, the Herero people, and later the Nama, tired of the abuse they suffered at the hands of the Germans, fought back and 123 Germans settlers were killed. In revenge, the German colonial authorities headed by General Lothar von Trotha called for the extermination of the Herero people. This extermination included rounding up the people and imprisoning them on Shark Island with no shelter and little to no food. Thousands died there from disease and starvation. During this time 65,000 ( some put the figure as high as 100,000) Herero people were killed and 10,000 Nama people. A thousand Herero people managed to run to Botswana and were given sanctuary. After the genocide only 15,000 Herero people survived in Namibia.

In 2004, Germany apologised for the genocide but has refused to pay any compensation to the Namibian people for the atrocities. Germany has paid out more than $61 billion in compensation to Holocaust survivors.

A delegation of more than 60 Namibian leaders went to Germany to collect the remains of their ancestors from the Medical History Museum in Charite Germany. Upon their return they were met at the airport in Windhoek by thousands of Namibian people.

For more information go here.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Life- First Up, Then Down, Then Slowly Up Again

To say my life is currently like a roller-coaster out of control would be just about right. I feel like a passenger strapped in, control handed over, me just waiting to see what the ride will bring next.

Last week started with good news Tuesday morning. The negotiations between Sapphire Press and the production company Vanilla Productions had neared conclusion. My books Kwaito Love and Can He Be The One? were among the thirteen titles that Vanilla Productions had optioned to potentially be made into TV movies. It involved some money coming my way and the potential that my characters may be transformed into flesh and blood. This was fantastic news and I was flying high.

And then Tuesday afternoon the good mood took a serious nosedive. My husband came to my office and said something had happened to my cat, Catman. When I got in the house Catman was trying to move around, but it was as if both her back legs were broken. In Mahalapye, we don't have private vets, only government vets that see to large animals. The vets that tend to my pets live in Lobatse, hundreds of kilometres away. I called them. Luckily they were coming on Thursday and in the meantime I should keep the cat caged and sedated. He warned me that if her legs or hips were broken she could be saved, but if her back was broken she would need to be put down. So began two days of hope. Hoping so badly all would be okay.

On Thursday when they arrived (it's a husband and wife vet team) he felt along the cat's back and he said it was broken and the answer I didn't want was delivered. Then to make matters worse, he told me it was clear her back was broken by someone beating her hard with a stick or club. He had to put her down.

Of course the whole thing was devastating. She was only three years old. I don't know what could have happened that would have led a person to beat her so. Cats roam. Maybe she went in some one's house. Some people are very afraid of cats, that might lead them to react so violently. Though our garden is fenced, cats can escape. I can only have faith that this terrible thing will not happen again to her son Ramon. Hope and faith, the tenuous threads I hold, this woman who claims to be agnostic.

The days pass and the sadness softens its sharp edges and slowly slowly life drips back to normal.

Today is my first day back in my office trying to attend to emails and get some work done.
And then I see the people at New Internationalist are happy with my column and would like me to write for them. And the famous author I asked for a blurb for my soon to be out short story collection has received the request from his agent I took a chance and sent to, and his PA assures me she will pass it on. And I feel myself slowly rising.

Up and down and up and down and maybe that's the thing that keeps us moving, the simple unstoppable, undeniable energy of life. And it goes on.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

And the Winner is......!!!!

To commemorate Botswana 45th year of independence (which was yesterday) and to celebrate the arrival of my newest book, Signed Hopelessly in Love, I asked my blog readers to leave comments about what they loved most about Botswana. Comments were left here and on Facebook where my blog posts turn up as Notes.

I searched for a judge to pick the most deserving comment to win the book. In the end I got the highly qualified, internationally acclaimed Motswana writer Wame Molefhe to do the duty. (thanks Wame!)

The winning comment was left on Facebook and it read-

"I went to Botswana once, when I was a little girl of about nine. And I have incredibly vivid memories of flying over the bush in a tiny little airplane. I remember how astonishingly beautiful all the tributaries were, I can still play it out like a movie in my brain. Then on the ground on the last day of our trip we were chased by a hippo, it was awesome. This reminiscing makes me think maybe it's time to go back for a visit."

And the writer of the comment ....Paige Nick!!
And thanks to everyone who entered.