Monday, January 31, 2011

My Book on the BBC Website!!

The new wave of romance writing in South Africa, of which I am proudly a part of, is getting all sorts of press lately. Here is an article on the BBC website. My publisher is Sapphire Press (an imprint of Kwela).

If you look carefully at the photo at the top ... that's my book Can He Be The One? !!!! On the BBC website!!!

That's a very nice Monday morning present.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Buy Can He Be The One- Available Online!!!

My second romance novella, Can He Be The One?, is now available online. My first book ever that could be bought online. Very excited!!!

If you want to buy it click HERE.

Monday, January 24, 2011

How To Make Morula Jam (and by accident morula sweets)

We have two morula trees in our back yard, a male one and the female one above, just next to my office. As I sit here writing every once in a while I'll get a big fright when one of the morula fruit fall on the roof with a much bigger sound than its size would predict. The tree is prolific and for years I've been wondering what to do with all of the fruit. I searched for a recipe for morula jam but never found one. This year I decided to try my luck and I was so pleased with the result. I thought I'd record my results here for other people.

1. Collect the morula fruit from the ground.

2. Wash them a few times.

3. Put them in a pot with water and boil. Boil them for a long time. I boiled mine for about two hours. Until the skins break open.

4. Let them cool down. Then mash them up with a potato masher.

5. Now strain the mixture. You want the liquid not the seeds and skins. If the mixture is too thick you can add water. It makes no difference how much water you add.

6. Add water to the mixture. For the amount I used I added 4 cups of golden brown sugar. The best way to know if the sugar is enough is to taste it. You can also experiment and add cinnamon and ginger which is very nice, even some lemon juice.

7. Boil the liquid again. By trial and error I discovered if you boil the mixture until it is jam consistency, when it cools you will have made morula sweets, which is a problem if you have now poured it into a jar. (for morula sweets pour it out on a cookie tray and when hard cut into cubes, can be rolled in sugar). To get jam, stop boiling when it is apple sauce consistency. I have to admit though that this part is the tricky part. But it is reversible. If you cook too long, pour in the jar and then it cools and you find it has become solid like sweets you can heat the jar and pour the whole lot back in a pot. Add water and heat again.

8. When cool pour into sterilised (boiled) jars and VOILA!!! It tastes a bit like apricot jam but wilder and with more flavour. And who doesn't want to be wilder???

Friday, January 21, 2011

What's New in Lauri's Life?

I've been busy busy and not keeping things up-to-date, so here goes.

1. I've signed and sent off to Tafelberg (South Africa) the contract for Aunt Lulu. It will hopefully be out mid this year. It is about a girl who is asked to run the agony aunt column in her school newspaper. She agrees reluctantly since she sees it as a step down from her lofty aims of being a serious journalist. It all goes wrong and then sort of right before the book is over.

2. I finished last edits to The Vanishings, my first book in a new detective series with police officer, Dambuza Chakalisa and safari owner, Delly Woods. It's a full length novel about the sudden strange disappearances of people in Maun. I've sent it off to a publisher- cross fingers!

3. I've begun writing short science articles on new discoveries for Mmegi again. Here's one about male pattern baldness. I really enjoy researching and writing these.

4. And my weekly column in The Voice Newspaper is going along. I still get phone calls most weeks, so I think people are readings it. Here is last week's column on showing and not telling and the one before that on the nasty habit of exploiting artists in Botswana.

So that's about my life lately, except I recently celebrated a birthday, I'm now 47. Though people bad mouth Facebook as a huge time waster, I must say I certainly enjoyed all of the lovely birthday messages I found there last Saturday.

So that's my life, like I said a bit busy.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Is a Bestseller Really a Best Seller??

This is an interesting article about how books are made into bestsellers and it appears to have little to do with how many books have been sold. From this article it appears even an average book that a publisher decides is going to be a bestseller becomes one because of the pre-publicity for the book.

The publisher may decide they like you. You may have a good list of contacts. You might have a weird lifestyle that could be milked. And what about this about one of my favourite books-

On a smaller scale even our own Arundati Roy's 'God of Small Things' had a roller coaster ride helped by her publisher. Arundati's personal life was as interesting as her book was uninteresting! She had fought with her mother and left house in Kerala to stay in a slum in Mumbai. She joined NID and made a film with an extraordinary and inscrutable title, 'In which Annie gives it those things,' See ? Then she was the daughter of the redoubtable Mary Roy who took on the might of the Church in Kerala to get her share of the family property. There were other more salacious bits some of which were splashed in the tabloids. The publishers then got the 'Big Mouths' to talk about the book. Incidentally, one of the Big Mouths was Shobha De! There were favourable reviews in select dailies followed by interviews. Arundati's own 'in your face' attitude helped sell her book. The rest is history and dear Arundati never wrote another book!

Imagine 2000 books printed just to send out for pre-publications marketing. That's our entire print run around here. So what do you think about this?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Help!! What to talk about in London?

See the problem is I know what I know and don't really know what I know which is different from what other people know. You get me??

SO- I'm supposed to speak in London about how it is to be a writer in Botswana. I know some things are different, for example we make little to no money from the trades, we don't use agents, etc.

But my question to you dear readers who are so helpful and lovely- if you were walking into a talk by a writer from Botswana, what would you want to know from that person? What would you expect them to speak about?

I am sending you all sorts of kisses and hugs in advance for the use of your brilliant minds.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Our Trip to the Rhino Sanctuary

During the Christmas holidays, Mr K and I took a camping trip to the Khama Rhino Sanctuary not so far from where we live. I'm not the best photographer because I much prefer to experience what I'm doing as opposed to taking photos of what I'm doing, so I missed all of the best photos, like the Bateleur eagle and the kudus fighting and the family of eight warthogs. But I did get a few photos I thought I'd share.

This fellow above is a leopard tortoise. Mr K and I had a schedule we followed each day. We'd wake up early and pack tea and peanut butter sandwiches, then we'd head to the bird hide for breakfast. After that we'd spend the morning cruising around the park. About noon we'd be back at the camp site for a late brunch and reading in the shade. While reading, I heard crunching in the bush near our tent. I only saw the grass moving and this fellow's shell and at first I thought it was a massive python. Closer inspection revealed this very friendly fellow who in the end spent the entire afternoon munching away while we napped and read next to him. I'm a huge fan of turtles and tortoises and this one was a lovely specimen.

There are plenty of impala in the sanctuary. This is a lonely male. The park is looking very green in this photo.

We also saw lots of giraffe. Though I tried my best, I have no photo of them grazing. I suppose they are trying to keep it a closely guarded secret but the giraffe at KRST graze! They spread out their legs and get to work on the grass, all of them even the juveniles.

One thing I did notice this time, the white rhino are becoming very tolerant of people. It used to be you'd only see them far across the pan. This one was right next to the car. What you don't see in this photo is me completely spazzing out. I'm not a fan of dying like a shish kebab on the horn of one of these fellows. The problem was we were in a queue of cars, one in front, one behind and this guy decided to come right up to our car and we could not get out of his way. Eish!!

We've been going to KRST for years, sometimes more often, sometimes less. It's large enough to still feel wild but small enough that you always see something. It was a lovely trip this time as usual.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Home Away

Home Away is an interesting collection of stories because some are fiction and some are true. They are written by South Africans travelling elsewhere. The book is arranged to cover 24 hours on the clock, over 24 cities around the world. It's about their reflections on their problematic home when they are not there.

I resisted mentioning this book on my blog because I personally know many of these writers. As I've written before sometimes it can be seen as a conflict of interest for a writer to review books especially books written by friends. I think I've settled on the position- if I like it, I like it. I liked Home Away.

Like most collections of this type, written by different writers, there are stories I don't like as much as others. My favourite in the whole collection in the end is written by a person I don't know and have never heard of before, "Hair Shirt" written by Ivan Vladislavic is set in Oklahoma City. It's creepy and stuck to me like a bit of tar. You're not sure what has just happened when you're finished reading but you have a feeling it wasn't very nice.

I've raved elsewhere about Sarah Lotz's "Maun of the Dead", a story about our very own Maun being invaded by zombies. I also loved Sarah's writing partner, Louis Greenberg's story which takes place in Ushuaia Argentina on his honeymoon, called "Last Chance at the End of the World". It's so tender and loving and laugh out loud funny.

The royalties from the sale of this book go to charity, another reason, besides the fact that it is a very good read, to buy it.

Friday, January 7, 2011

I'm Going to London!!!!

I saved this for Friday on purpose- Friday should come carrying gifts. My gift is good news. I've already mentioned this on Facebook but not here on my blog. (For Facebook friends who are also Blogging friends- please excuse the repeat)

So what's my good news?? I'm going to London from the 16-19th February as a speaker at the London School of Economics and Political Science Space for Thought Literary Festival 2011.
I will be giving a talk titled,"Writing Across Borders A Botswana Perspective".

I'm really excited about it. I'm a bit scared of the UK coldness, which I'm not quite sure I'll be able to handle. Cross fingers a spell of spring hovers over London for those few days.

And please, if any of my fabulous readers happen to live in London or will be there at that time, I'd love to meet up with you. One of my favourite things is to turn internet friends into flesh and blood ones, it's like some kind of magic.

So that's my Friday good news- what's yours??

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Homing by Henrietta Rose-Innes

Many people say, "I don't like short stories, they're so unfulfilling." There is a fad in short story writing at the moment of leaving the reader hanging high up there with their legs swinging in the air and you the writer walk away waving "bye-bye". I always feel a bit undermined by such stories. As if I haven't been let in on a private joke. It's not fair and I completely get readers' frustrations since I feel it myself when a writer treats me so.

There is something very comforting about reading a short story written by Henrietta Rose-Innes. From the second you begin you feel safe, you know she will not leave you up there hanging as she walks away with a knowing smirk on her face. You will, instead, leave the story satisfied, like you were allowed dessert after a big plate of lasagne. You will want absolutely nothing else.

I'm a bit of a manic short story writer. I don't plan, unlike my books which I plan incessantly. With short stories, I get a tiny bit of an idea and then sit down at the computer and hope the story will have legs. Sometimes it doesn't and I put it away. Sometimes it has ugly, useless legs that carry me to a place I don't like very much. Other times the story walks calmly and with certitude to its conclusion and I am pleased. But it is all about chance.

With Henrietta Rose-Innes you feel as if it is never about chance. You feel she is always firmly in control of things and you need not worry at all, you will enjoy the ride and arrive at your destination safely.

In her first collection of short stories, Homing, I cannot pick out a single story that is lacking. I finished the collection some weeks ago and still certain stories are sitting stubbornly at the front of my brain demanding I take spare moments to give them a thought.

One in particular is "Promenade" about a middle aged man who takes his evening exercise walking along the edge of the ocean in Cape Town. Each day he passes a certain man, he later decides is a boxer, and they develop an odd connection for the few seconds each time they meet. It is a haunting story about our connections to our species-mates and how our actions impact on everything around us.

"Homing" the first story in the collection is another that will not leave me alone. It is about an elderly couple and how a new fancy hotel built next to their modest home upsets their lives. Rose-Innes builds the tension by showing us the couple's vulnerability created by this intrusion into their settled, safe life.

Besides her confident and competent way of approaching short stories, Rose-Innes does not try to dazzle the reader with bells and whistles which is highly appreciated by this reader. She tells her story plain and simple and then pops the reader with the human truth laid bare. This is an excellent collection I read in nearly one sitting, and will definitely be pulling down off my shelf to read again.

Monday, January 3, 2011