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?