Wednesday, August 31, 2011

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

This morning I put all of the names from the comments on the post below and on my Facebook page with links to my blog posts (in the notes) and I picked the winner of the free book.

The winner of the FREE, SIGNED copy of Mr Not Quite Good Enough is ...One Stoned Crow!!!
Congratulations!! I'll send it off to you straight away.

And thank you everyone who entered! Keep your eyes open because as soon as my author copies arrive of Signed, Hopelessly in Love I'll be giving a signed copy away.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Virtual Author

I just read this article about virtual book clubs. Using video calling from Skype an author can hook up with a group of readers kilometres away. I think this is fabulous, especially for me living in Mahalapye Botswana. Our Skype connection right now is a bit slow for video anything, but everything to do with the internet is improving in Botswana and I hope soon such a thing could be a possibility for me.

I'm just now taking my first foray into a virtual book tour for my new YA book Signed Hopelessly in Love. My publisher, Tafelberg, in South Africa had never done such a thing before but decided to try it out with me. I'll only be visiting a few blogs, five in total. I'd be more than happy for any advice other authors who have done blog book tours might have for me. I'm really looking forward to it. I'll let you know when the schedule is in place. Link

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Another Kind of Story

10 Feb, 2011: The Texas Movement (TM) made of freedom fighters has advanced on the east coast. They have demanded President Obama’s resignation. They claim he has violated their human rights these include bankrupting the country with foreign wars, racial profiling at borders and in airports, a judicial system stacked against people of colour. Other factions of the Movement feel their civil liberties are being violated by not allowing prayer in school, others want polygamy to be decriminalised, and yet others think Obama’s new health care system is communist. Though the group is small, less than two thousand, and fractured along ideological lines, they are committed and armed.

24 Feb, 2011: The TM has made gains throughout the western United States. They are in control of all areas west of the Mississippi. For the first time, Obama has sent in land troops after weeks of heavy bombing. The President still stubbornly clings to power despite the wishes of his people. The international community condemns him for brutal attacks on his own people.

3 March, 2011: Obama supporters around the country tape messages of themselves trying to explain what is really happening in their country and post them on YouTube. The international community dismisses them as Obama propaganda.

4 March, 2011: TM leader, Sarah Palin, asks for assistance from the international community. “Will you sit by while this brutal dictator slaughters his own people?” The Coalition of the Greedy (COGs) a collection of the most powerful and morally corrupt states steps up to help. Their leader, Dick Cheney ,tells the media in a briefing, “This is not about regime change. This is not about Texas oil. This is about saving the lives of innocent people.”

5 March, 2011: 500 bombs fall on strategic Obama strongholds throughout the eastern part of the country. COGs dismisses claims that innocent people were killed. The statement issued to the media said, “All causalities were Obama supporters and members of his armed, home based army.”

25 April, 2011: COGs and TM have made significant gains. Last night COGs jets flew over Washington DC. The White House was targeted and both the First Lady and Obama’s youngest daughter were killed. Both staunch supporters of Obama’s inhumane policies. Obama seems to be on the run. Rumours are he has been offered asylum in the United Kingdom and Japan. His oldest daughter, Malia Obama, spoke in support of her father on Al Jazeera. “He will not hand over the country to people who do not recognise the Constitution of the United States of America. He will fight until his last breath for the country he loves.”

13 June, 2011: The battle rages on. COGs has instituted more than 6000 bomb attacks. Rumours that Obama was hiding out in Hawaii led to overnight air strikes on the islands. Infrastructure on all islands was destroyed, more than 3500 people injured, 235 killed. Obama was not found.

15 July, 2011: COGs’ CEO Dick Cheney said, “We will not rest until there is regime change in the United States of America.”

22 August, 2011: Washington DC is surrounded and TM has taken control. Malia Obama, unofficial spokesperson for the Obama regime, is in custody and will be taken to appear before the ICC on charges of crimes against humanity. Obama is found in the bunker under the White House. It is yet to be ascertained who killed him, but he is dead.

11 November, 2011: All Texas oil wells are bought by COGs. The exact amount of the transaction remains undisclosed.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Why are Certain Writers Still Afraid of Ebooks?

I read this article titled "E-books Threaten Livelihoods of Aspiring Writers" and became quite annoyed. Booker winner Graham Swift is moaning about the fact that up and coming writers may not make enough money with ebooks so will leave writing altogether, leaving the world minus the stories these writers would have left behind.

I really wonder what world Mr Swift occupies because it has nothing to do with mine. Unless you're the top dog on the publishing mountain you probably don't make a livable wage now- anywhere in the world! And that's with paper books and the old system. Ebooks can ONLY be good for new writers. Their options have opened up. They can publish stories that would have been stopped by the gatekeepers of the past- traditional publishers and agents.

For African writers, ebooks are going to be the big equaliser. Right now our biggest problem is distribution. Our books just do not get off the continent and if they do they're relegated to the Africa section of the bookstore, the place no one ventures. With ebooks that will be a thing of the past.

Mr Swift needs to put his glasses on and take another look. In the past any story not deemed "marketable" never saw the light of day. If there was a time to worry about good stories not getting the chance to be told the time was then. The world of publishing is changing, and at least from my seat, for the better.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Win a Copy of Mr Not Quite Good Enough!!

My new romance published by Sapphire Press, Mr Not Quite Good Enough is now out!!
Here's the blurb:

Gorata Kwadiba has a plan. By the time she turns thirty in two years' time, she wants to have made her mark as a public relations officer, and to have married a successful man. Ozee certainly doesn't fit into her plans. However charismatic and handsome he is, Gorata can't get over the fact that he's a petrol attendant. She wants a man with drive and ambition. But Ozee is persistent and Gorata finally agrees to go on a date with him. It doesn't take long, though, for Gorata to realise that there's more to Ozee than his charm and good looks.

Do you want to win a free copy? Leave a comment below (deadline 30 August) and I'll put all of your names in a hat (well probably a bowl) and pick a winner.

Good Luck!!!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Friday, August 12, 2011

I'm Visiting Elaine's Blog!-"Lauri and The Caine"

Elaine Pillay kindly asked me to write about my experiences around my Caine Prize shortlisting. She's put up the post HERE.

And on other news, I suddenly realised I've been globetrotting for most of this year so am in a huge panic that I have written just about nothing. So I'm trying to keep my nose to the grindstone.

Good news- Signed, Hopelessly in Love , my YA book, is now out and can be bought at Book Depository HERE. I also have a new romance out with Sapphire/Kwela in South Africa called Mr Not Quite Good Enough. As I write this I'm waiting for the courier to arrive with my author copies. Read about it HERE.

Enjoy your weekend!!!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Strengthen Your Writing

(My blog is seriously taking a backseat to all of my other projects right now. So to keep you interested I'm re-posting one of my weekly columns I do for The Voice newspaper here in Botswana. Hope you enjoy!)

Everyone wants stronger more interesting writing. Today let’s look at some easy changes you can make that can begin to wake up a boring, tired story.

1. Get rid of adverbs and adjectives.
In English there are different parts of speech and each part has weight. Nouns and verbs are the heaviest, they have the most impact. This is because every sentence must have them. Adjective and adverbs have less weight. We use them to modify nouns (adjectives) and verbs (adverbs), but writing becomes stronger when we choose descriptive nouns and verbs and leave out the adjectives and adverbs. Here are two examples showing how adverbs and adjective can be removed to make the sentence stronger.

Her haunting, thoughtful eyes made him remember strongly his past love.
Her eyes haunted him, reminding him of his past love.

He was always hopeless and negative so people didn’t easily become his friends.
His hopelessness and negativity kept friends away.

This doesn’t mean you should rid your writing completely of adverbs and adjectives but make sure that you chose exciting, fresh modifiers or you use them in an interesting way. In the example below the unexpected use of brightly makes the sentence pop.
She watched them walk away through tear-filled eyes. “Enjoy yourselves,” she said brightly.

2. Get rid of qualifying modifiers.
A modifier like an adverb or an adjective is bad enough, but when you now add a word or group of words to qualify the modifier you’re weakening your writing even further. Look at the example below:

She was very unforgettable.
She was unforgettable.

That date is a bit noteworthy.
That date is noteworthy.

3. Be careful with the Be Verbs
We all know the be verbs, and there is no way a writer can toss all of them to the wind, but too heavy a reliance on these little verbs make your writing weak. Look at this example:

Elephants that are disturbed by people often become vicious.
Elephants disturbed by people often become vicious.

4. Use Active Voice
Active voice is when the subject of the sentence is the one performing the action. In a passive sentence, the subject of the sentence is being acted on and it makes for complicated and less energized writing. Look at the example:

The ball was thrown by Dineo. (passive)
Dineo threw the ball. (active)

5. Vary Sentence Length and Structure
If your entire story uses only compound sentences it will be very boring for the reader. And you shouldn’t think that using simple short sentences will mean your story is simple and uninteresting. Often it will mean the opposite. Look at this passage:

Mpho stopped at the lights and looked at the man in the car next to her. She knew him. She’d seen him many times before. When he turned, she quickly looked the other way. What was she afraid of? Herself. She knew herself too well. A man like that was the exact wrong sort for a woman like her. Not that it would stop her.

The passage is interesting because different types and lengths of sentences are used. And what happens when the writer uses the short, snappy sentences with the element of repetition? The suspense builds. If you have too many short sentences the reading becomes choppy, but the right amount helps to build tension and speeds things up.

6. Remove Clichés
I think most of us know common clichés, phrases such as: right as rain, everyday life, winds of change, bright and early. These are easy to spot and need to be removed and replaced with something more interesting. But other clichés can be found in lazy writing. I’ve been working through some edits for an upcoming book and the editor pointed out how many times I used almond eyes. This is a cliché too. A reader just passes over it, and because it is overused, it adds nothing to the excitement of your writing. Keep a keen eye out for those sorts of clichés too.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Blogging to Get Readers for your Books-Does it Work?

I read an article I found through Twitter on my iPhone and can't seem to find it again, in which the writer made a very good point. She said that most fiction writers are under the impression that by keeping a blog we are building up our "platform" and increasing the number of people that will buy our books. She said that in fact this was wrong. Most writers, myself included, write blogs about writing and our writing life. And for most of us our readers are other writers, not necessarily the people we would expect to buy our books. We're actually doing this entire thing wrong.

Most of my books are for kids and young adults and very few kids or young adults probably read this blog. So I can't continue to think that blogging will increase the readership of my books. This is not to say blogging has not helped me as a writer, it has. I've met an important community of writers from all over the world. I get quite a few people contacting me about various things because of my blog. I still see this blog as an important part of my online presence but I need to readjust my thoughts about it as a way to market my books.

I wonder what other people think. Do you think it is important to be very clear about your readership and build up a web presence that caters to those readers? In my case, should I work on a blog for teens in Southern Africa? Do you think blogging helps to sell your books? I'd be interested to hear.