Monday, December 31, 2012

2013- The Year of Uncertainty

Over the years New Year's Eve has become more important to me than Christmas. For me NYE is a time to take stock, to see how the last year went, and to prepare for a new one. It's an exciting time for me.

In 2012 I took a few trips. I attended the Caine Workshop in South Africa. I met a lot of great people and got a bit of insight into my own writing. It was a useful workshop for me. I came out of it knowing myself a bit better and understanding that my way of writing is not the wrong way (something I often thought), it is only my way and that's okay.  I also went to Nairobi and attended the Storymoja Hay Festival.

I wrote two books for educational publishers this year. One for a publisher in UK, about elephants, and The Second Worst Thing for South Africa's Oxford University Press. I took a wobbly walk into self publishing with the publication of three of my Kate Gomolemo Mysteries as ebooks at Amazon.

It was a disappointing year too. I finished the sequel for Signed, Hopelessly in Love, Signed, The Secret Keeper and after many months I had to make the decision to withdraw the book for consideration by the publisher. I'd always seen the first book as a series of three. Now I'm not sure what to do. I like the second book quite a bit, maybe more than the first, so I doubt it will remain unpublished for long. It's just waiting for me to decide what to do with it. I also had to make another difficult decision this year. I parted with a publisher I really liked working with because I could no longer continue to sign contracts that I was not 100% behind.

Both of these decisions came at the end of this year and have left me slightly lost. I'm trying to find a new path for my writing career.  I felt a bit as if I was finally realising the kind of writer I would be, and now the road disappeared. So I've pulled out the bush cutter and am back to finding a new way.

So as I step into 2013 it is an uncertain year that lies ahead. I'm working on a very ambitious project that I hope will meet with publishing success. I'm also attempting to expand my romance writing and am working on a romance novel I'm hoping to submit to THE BIG romance publisher.

Although it is never nice to have to end relationships, I feel in a way the hard decisions I made were needed. Writing is a tough business and when you find a nice little nest where everything is lovely, it's easy to become complacent. I think that was  happening to me. Complacency is the death of a writer. I think it's healthy for me to be uncertain and scared. It is good for me not to be able to see what lies ahead.

So I'm looking forward to this year of uncertainty.
I hope all of you also have a 2013 that you're looking forward to- Happy New Year!

(And with a new year, comes a new look blog- what do you think??)

Friday, December 28, 2012

President Zuma and the Dogs

So the South African president, President Zuma, decided to declare dogs and the caring for dogs a "white, non-African" practice. You can read more about it here. I'm not sure where he got his facts, but scientists are beginning to accept that the first domestic dogs actually came from Africa.He is actually perpetuating racist stereotypes in a country that can ill afford such behaviour.

Of course Zuma's utterances have made people angry. It has re-ignited the racist fire that is never completely out in South Africa. It's too bad because Zuma has many important issues to attend to and now he's taken the debate to a place that is not constructive.

I have three dogs, the youngest my puppy Delilah shown above having a snooze under my desk in the office. I love my dogs. But perhaps Zuma was trying to make a point albeit in a clumsy way. Some people go overboard when it comes to animals, at the expense of people. For example, I believe a dog that attacks a person needs to be put down. An uncontrollable dog is dangerous. I feel the same about wild animals that kill people. But some will say an elephant that has killed a person should be saved. People must have a sensible view when it comes to animals.

Having said that, I've always felt, in fact, that we have more of an obligation to domestic animals than wild animals. We took these animals from the wild and made them dependent on us. It is unfair now to abandon them. To mistreat them. Thousands of years ago we made a pact with them. It is wrong to go back on it. I just hope President Zuma's words will not allow people to renege on that agreement, thinking that somehow it is African to mistreat a dog. It is not, as so many Africans have been saying on the social networks after Zuma's speech. Being loving and humane is part of African culture. And so is keeping a promise and standing by your word.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Goodies of Late

Good things have been happening but I've been crazy busy so I thought I'd catch my blogging friends up on my life.

1. I have a new kids book coming out with Oxford University Press in South Africa. It's called The Second Worst Thing. It's about Dikeledi, a girl who has already gone through the worst thing- her parents' divorce. She realises it wasn't so bad in retrospect since now her mother treats her like a queen for fear she'll become a psychopathic serial killer and her busy father sets aside time to spend only with her. While she's working on Operation Popular Group, her plan to make sure she and her best friend Mpho make it into the popular group next year in high school, the second worst thing is creeping up on her, and it's going to ruin everything.

2. I was interviewed at For Books' Sake by the wonderful Judy Croome as part of her series on African women writers. The interview is HERE. If you're interested in reading about the other writers you can find them all here.

3. And my friend Tania Hershman has put up a blog post with all of the books she wrote blurbs for this year, recommending her readers might be interested in buying one or two of the books for Xmas presents. My short story collection is on the list which is HERE.

4. Rachel Zadok, Whitbread First Novel Award nominee and author of the fab book Gem Squash Tholoshe, has put up a very nice blog post about my story Moving Forward. The post is here and the first bit of the story here.

So that's me- what's up with you?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Don't Forget Rachel's and Helen's Next Big Things!!

Take a look at these two writers Next Big Things!!
Rachel Zadok:
Exploring the themes of superstition and taboo, Sister-Sister is the story of twins, Thulisile and Sindisiwe Nxumalo. In childhood, the gregarious bright Thuli and her stuttering introverted twin, Sindi, are inseparable, but the arrival of an uncle they never knew they had sets into motion a course of events that will destroy their relationship and, eventually, their lives.

 Sister-Sister will be published by Kwela next year in April. 
Read about it HERE.

Helen Ginger:
 Dismembering the Past is Helen's next book and here's how she describes it: The Texas Butcher has killed twelve women around the state, dismembering them and displaying the body pieces. He'll add three more in Mesquite Cove if the FBI and Hallie can't stop him -- unless he kills her first. 
Read about it HERE.

Friday, November 23, 2012

What did Tania Hershman say about my short story collection???

The print edition of my short story collection, In the Spirit of McPhineas Lata and Other Stories, is out, published by Hands-On Books.

At the back you'll find a blurb from, Tania Hershman author of My Mother Was an Upright Piano. Here's what she had to say:

"Lauri Kubuitsile's stories are sweet, salty, colourful, hot, and unforgettable. Botswana-flavoured and pregnant with atmosphere, Kubuitsile's writing slips easily between the real and the magical, between death and life, love and sex, humour and darkness, friendship and family. Just as McPhineas Lata wove his seductive spell on the village women, so too will these stories bewitch and enchant."
The ebook is also available at Amazon, though let me tell you a secret...the print book has one extra story in it! Included in the print edition is my story from this year's Caine Workshop, Moving Forward.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

My Next Big Thing

Writers in the blogsphere have been passing The Next Big Thing around cyberspace for us to hear about what writers have in their pipeline, to tell us about their Next Big Thing. I was invited by UK based writer Sue Guiney whose Next Big Thing can be seen HERE. Sue Guiney is the author of A Clash of the Innocents and Tangled Roots (both novels), a collection of poetry, Her Life Collected, and a poetry play,  Dreams of May.

Now for My Next Big Thing.... 

What is the working title of your book? 

 If Not For This

Where did the idea come from for the book? 

 This book is mostly motivated by guilt. It involves a couple who have survived the German genocide in Namibia and they are trying to make a new life in Botswana. The wife was a prisoner on Shark Island, a concentration camp at the coast. Some years ago my family camped at Shark Island. There are no signs to tell you what it was, that thousands of bodies are buried under your tent. I only realised what we’d done years later when a Namibian friend told me. I felt awful, complicit in some way. After that, things kept happening, I’d meet people, or I’d run across stories that kept pointing to me writing this book. But the beginning is the guilt that we didn’t know, that we were part of the attempt to forget.

What genre does your book fall under? 

Literary, historical fiction, I hope.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? 

For the man, Idris Elba, mostly because I think he is fabulously hot, but also slightly tortured, as my lead man in the story is. I’m not sure about the woman. She needs to be a certain way, proud and beautiful, tough and damaged. Maybe Sophie Okonedo or Pam Grier, if she was a bit younger.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? 

How do two people find love and kindness again when all that they’ve been through taught them only evil and hate?

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

 I hope to find an agent for this book, hopefully get it published off the continent.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? 

 I don’t know because I’ve barely started writing. I’ve spent quite a bit of time researching, I’m still researching actually but because the story refused to wait I’m writing a very rough draft at the same time. This is not my normal process at all. Almost everything about this book is not my normal process. It makes it quite exciting for me.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

 I’d hate to even compare the book with anything for fear I’ll let people down which is likely, but my hope is to write a book in the same line as Memory of Love or Half of a Yellow Sun in the way that Chimamanda and Aminatta took historical events and showed the impact of those events on the personal lives of a few people.  I feel history is made more real in an emotional way when it can be made personal, when it can be happening to people we know, not famous people in the midst of it, but just people who that was their life. This is my hope. I realise the shoes are very big.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? 

 Well, I’m primarily a good storyteller, not always the best writer. I’m trying my best to push my writing to a place it rarely goes. I’m attempting some experimental things with this book too. Without a doubt I’m punching above my weight class. So we’ll see how it goes.

And I'm passing The Next Big Thing onto South African based author Rachel Zadok and Texas based author and former mermaid, Helen Ginger. Here's what they have to say about their Next Big Things:

Rachel Zadok:
Exploring the themes of superstition and taboo, Sister-Sister is the story of twins, Thulisile and Sindisiwe Nxumalo. In childhood, the gregarious bright Thuli and her stuttering introverted twin, Sindi, are inseparable, but the arrival of an uncle they never knew they had sets into motion a course of events that will destroy their relationship and, eventually, their lives.

 Sister-Sister will be published by Kwela next year in April. 

Read all about Rachel's Next Big Thing- HERE next week on the 28th November! Don't worry I'll remind you. 

Helen Ginger:
 Dismembering the Past is Helen's next book and here's how she describes it: The Texas Butcher has killed twelve women around the state, dismembering them and displaying the body pieces. He'll add three more in Mesquite Cove if the FBI and Hallie can't stop him -- unless he kills her first. 

Read all about Helen's Next Big Thing Here.

Their posts will be up on the 28th November, don't worry I'll remind you.  

Monday, November 19, 2012

Behind the Shadows- an African/Asian Anthology

I am very lucky to have my story "The Last Rhino in Mutare" in the new Asian/African anthology Behind the Shadows. The main theme of the anthology is fitting in. 

Ellaine Pillay, one of the contributors, has a lovely post up at her blog in which she interviews the compilers of the book and a few of the writers, myself included, about our stories.

If you want to get the ebook for your Kindle, you can buy it here.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Claws of a Killer Serialised in Jungle Jim!!

I just received my copy of the fantastic pulp fiction magazine from South Africa, Jungle Jim #18 and inside is the first instalment of Claws of a Killer which is being serialised in the magazine for the next few issues. How cool is that!

Other pieces included in this issue is a story from  Kenyan writer, "Laki" Mark Muthiora, a book excerpt from the prolific Arabic sci-fi and horror writer, Ahmed Khaled Towfik, and a story from South African Phillip Vermaas. I only got the issue this morning but can't wait to get stuck in.

Jungle Jim is available on the Kindle through Amazon, though issue 18 is not yet up there. Also readers in America can buy Jungle Jim HERE.

If you want to read Claws of a Killer all in one go you can buy the ebook here.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The New Perspective by K. Arnold Price

About a month ago or so my friend Sue Guiney gave away this book, The New Perspective by K. Arnold Price on her blog. I was lucky enough to be the winner.

The book is about Pattie and Cormac, a long married couple. The book starts as they return from the wedding of their last born son to, who Pattie calls, "a dull girl". They are now free of the responsibilities of parenting, a task Pattie (who tells the story) has found perfunctory. She is happy to be back again. alone with Cormac but still upon returning to their home she feels suddenly annoyed and unsettled.

She has spent 26 years married to Cormac and yet, slowly, she discovers tiny but important details about him that shake her foundations of assumptions. He finds drama and acting "the lowest form of art", for example. One day he decides they should buy a different house. This helps Pattie with her sense of ennui as she and Cormac busy themselves making the new house a home.

Then Cormac buys a violin. This seems an odd purchase to Patti, until she discovers that he knows how to play. Not only does he know how, he adores it, but for all of the years of his marriage and some before he was denied because he needed to take up the responsibility of running the family antiques business when his father died.

Patti knows Cormac as an even tempered man. She can't remember him ever adoring anything, ever missing something "terribly". This troubles her. It makes her wonder about all of the years that they've been together, the honesty of those years. The purchase of the violin leads Patti into a downward spiral.

There are many things I loved about this book. In only 85, sparsely printed pages, the author, is able to simply but truthfully get to the crux of many long term relationships, especially ones with children. That time when the children go off on their own can be a difficult time. Suddenly the noise subsides and the partners, often buffered by the busyness of raising children, are alone with the other who in some cases has become a stranger.

This was K.Arnold Price's first novel which was published when she was 84. This tells an important story in and of itself. It is never too late. And sometimes it really is about experience. Lastly, that sometimes genius gets lost in the crowd, or, in this case,  behind a very terrible cover.

This is not an easy book to get a hold of, and not cheap either. I found it here and here.
Since I received my copy of the book through the goodwill of the blogsphere, it is only right that I pass on the present. Please leave a comment below explaining why you would like me to send you this copy of the book. In two weeks, on the 19th of November, I will pick a winner.
Good Luck!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Pitso ya Ngwao ko Tonota

I've just returned from the cultural pitso in Tonota. In Botswana, the president has instructed various ministries to hold community meetings called pitso, to find out what Batswana need from their government.

The Cultural Pitso (Pitso ya Ngwao) has been quite vague in the past with anyone who is part of culture (artists, musicians, writers etc) coming together in one meeting to discuss their problems. Each sector has quite diverse needs so such meetings in the past have been too vague to accomplish much.

 But this year things are different. The theme for the pitso was: "Go bala ke lesedi- Developing a culture of reading in Botswana". The theme was specific and the participants, on the most part, were focused. The pitso is being held twice this year, once in the north and once in the south to try and get the widest participation.

The one in the north was on the 22nd held in Tonota. I attended and chaired the discussion group on technology and reading. I was very keen on this because I'm currently trying to get cellphone providers in the country to use cellphones to distribute our stories and books. Last week I was asked to go to Gaborone to make a presentation on my idea to one of our cellphone companies BeMobile. They said they'd get back to me. So I was happy to be part of the technology group. (below is the beautiful new library in Tonota where the Pitso was held)

Next Monday I'll be attending the pitso in the south, to be held in Jwaneng. There I'll again chair the technology discussion group but I'll also present the writer's perspective on the problem of reading in the country. I'm looking forward to it.

The pitso was put on by three departments: the Department of Arts and Culture, Botswana National Library Services and Botswana National Archives and Records Services. The photo below is a display from the Archives folks. The government publishes a national magazine called Kutlwano, a magazine I used to freelance for when I first started writing. These were old copies from the 1960s and 1970s. They were fantastic! I could have spent the entire day reading them.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Orange Prize Saved by Authors

Some months ago the world was saddened to hear that Orange would be withdrawing their sponsorship for the Orange Prize, a literary prize for full lengthnovels written in English by women writers anywhere in the world. The hope was someone would step in and take up the prize but time was passing and no news was forthcoming until now. It seems a group of private donors  led by Cherie Blair and bestselling writers Joanna Trollope and Elizabeth Buchan have stepped in to save the prize for 2013. There are numerous companies wanting to step into Orange's shoes but nothing had been finalised in time for the 2013 prize so best selling women authors stepped up to the plate. How great is that??

The prize was re-launched last week and has taken back it's former name, The Women's Prize for Fiction. I, for one, am thankful. I find novels on the shortlist to be exceptional usually. It is a prize that recognises women authors from around the globe and pulls them into the light of stardom.

I always find the criticism of the Orange Prize confusing. It is a known and quantifiable fact that books written by women get less attention. The prize was organised by women to rectify that situation. How is that a bad thing? Most famously AS Byatt called it a "sexist prize".

What do you think? Do you think the prize does more harm than good?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Chicken Thief by Fiona Leonard

The Chicken Thief is the story of Allois, an innovative young man who left his job in the civil service to become a chicken thief and along the way gets pulled into a complicated mystery which involves saving one of the country's most celebrated war heroes. The book is set in a mythical African country that seems very much like Zimbabwe to me. It is a wonderfully plotted tale with characters you won't easily forget. I recently read an interview where the author said that she is working on a sequel which made me very happy. I really enjoyed this book and look forward to the next one. I read it in just a few days because the mystery in the plot is very compelling.

And one thing I liked even more about this book, is that it is self-published. You wouldn't know it was self-published though. It is well edited and very well written. It is indication of the new definition of self-published books. Too often people dismiss self published books assuming they will not be up to standard.  I'm actually quite surprised this book was not grabbed up by a traditional publisher. It is better than a few books I've read recently that were published traditionally. Perhaps the author never gave them the option, this is what I suspect.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Why Author Advances Scare Me

In my writing world, where most of my books are published in Southern Africa, I mostly do not get advances. Instead, I write a book, submit it to a publisher (without an agent), the publisher likes it, publishes it and I wait for the book to sell so that I can earn royalties. I'm happy with this set up, I'm doing okay. The pressure of an advance for writing a book not yet on the page might very well ensure that the words just never come. But that may be just me.

Now I see how advances could ruin you, both your finances and your reputation. According to this article at Smoking Gun some big name authors are being sued for their advances by their publisher (now it is revealed the publisher is Penguin) for not producing the books they were contractually hired to produce. And not only do they want the advance, Penguin want interest. (kind of shocking since publishers keep royalties accrued throughout the year, sometimes paid annually, sometimes twice a year and never pay interest to writers)

Literary agent Robert Gottlieb has reacted to Penguin's lawsuit. He explains that books are rejected by publishers for many reasons. It may not be that these authors shrugged their responsibilities. It could be the other reasons beyond the author's control. He appears to think this does not bode well for authors without very strong representation.

What do you think? 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Has Spring Finally Come to Mahalapye?

A few photos from around my garden on this lovely spring day. ENJOY!!!

Happy Spring!!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Back from Nairobi

I'm back from the Storymoja Hay Festival. It was fabulous! As is usually the case, I mostly forgot to take photos. I'm not a natural photographer, the taking of photos distracts me from my experience. I don't like taking photos or having them taken of me. But I did take a few when I remembered and here they are. 

This is from a session with Nigerian Lola Shoneyin, the author of The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives. If you haven't read this hilarious book you must. What I loved about this session was that the women interviewing Lola were from a book club in Nairobi, a book club that reads only African writers (they buy ebooks on their Kindles since it is even hard in Nairobi to get copies of African writers' books, just like it is here in Botswana). And Lola, who is a former drama teacher, is very entertaining. It was one of my favourite events of the Festival.

One of the most interesting sessions I attended was an interview of Miguna Miguna the author of Peeling Back the Mask: A Quest for Justice in Kenya (photo above)  Miguna was a senior advisor to the prime minister of Kenya, Raila Odinga. Miguna joined Odinga’s team enthusiastically thinking that the Prime Minister was a new leaf for the country, the man to lead them to a more equitable and honest Kenya. But quite quickly he began to see the chinks in Odinga’s surface and though he attempted to advise the Prime Minister, his advice fell on deaf ears. He left his job (first suspended and then asked to come back, an offer he refused). The book is a memoir of his life and his time in this administration. It has met with a strong backlash in the Kenyan community. At at least one event for the book, stones were thrown at the author. In the event I attended, the auditorium was pulsing with emotion. It is indeed a book that has Kenyans polarised. Miguna makes the point that if the country is to go forward, it must do so with knowledge. Though many Kenyans believe that Odinga is the best they have, Miguna feels that Kenyans should not compromise, that they should demand what they deserve and that the book is a way to further transparency and democracy. I’ve yet to read the book but I was very impressed with the robust debate.
Above is a photo of a few of the children who attended my writing workshop. I taught them about point of view: first and third. I read a few passages from some of my books so they could hear what each of the points of view sounded like. We discussed why writers choose each one. Then I had a photo and I asked them to write a short story about the photo. They first wrote a story in first person and then in third. It was quite fun to hear them read their stories, I really enjoyed the workshop.

The photo above is from a session I was involved in where I read my picture book published by Vivlia Publishers, Lorato and Her Wire Car. After I read the story, Storymoja's fantastic storyteller, Wangari Grace told the kids a story.

I realise I don't have any photos of myself doing anything. But just to prove I actually did go to Nairobi here is a photo of Lola and I speaking to a group of school children.

Nairobi is wonderful. I was so impressed with the vibrancy of their literary community, jealous actually. I wish we had it in Botswana. The event was held at the newly renovated national museum, a beautiful venue.  I loved meeting many of the writers I'd only heard about before like Lola and Muthoni Garland (who I stayed with in her beautiful home), and Billy Kahora. I had so many great conversations with all sorts of people. I'm now thinking of new ways of seeing things and doing things. I think that really should be the purpose of such events, for both the people who attend and the people who are part of it, to open our minds and let knew winds blow through. In that way it was a success, my brain is very windy at the moment.

Friday, September 7, 2012

I'm Off To Kenya! See you At Storymoja Hay Festival

Yep! Wednesday I'm off to Nairobi Kenya for the 2012 Storymoja Hay Festival. I'll be involved in various events.

Thursday the 13th:
I'll be with children's writer and the author of The Secret Lives of Babi Segi's Wives, Lola Shoneyin, for a meet the author session with 10-14 year olds.

Friday the 14th:
I'll be part of a panel discussion talking about e-publishing and other innovations.

Saturday the 15th:
I'll be on a panel with NoViolet Bulawayo, Jewkwu Anyaegbuna, Claudette Oduor speaking with Kwani! manging director, Billy Kahora, around the topic "The writer and the reader: who are contemporary African writers writing for".

And a bit later in the day (3pm) I'll be running a writing workshop for teen writers in the kids' area.

Sunday the 16th

I'll be reading my book, Lorato and Her Wire Car, in the kids' area.

I'm looking forward to this. Maybe I'll meet some of you there....!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Human Nature of Birds

Outside of my office window is a birdbath and a bird feeder. I spend a lot of time looking out at the birds, trying to think of what to write, to work out plot problems, try to get to know my characters in my head a bit better. It's a useful little set-up.

The bird feeder is relatively new. I used to just feed the birds on an old broken cement bird bath further down my garden, but I saw this bird feeder during a trip to Gaborone and thought it would be a nice addition to my little bird sanctuary.

We filled it with food, put it up, and waited. A month passed, and though the birdbath was nearby and many birds would sit on the branch that the bird feeder hung from, not a single one took the chance to check it out. Another month passed and still the bird feeder was full. We tried various things, setting it on the ground, removing the red wire that it hung from, but nothing worked.

Then during the third month, one brave bird tried his luck. Before the end of the day birds were flocking there, the feeder empties now in two days.

Why did it take so long? And what was different about that single bird that took the risk that allowed all of the others to see that there was no fear to step into the unknown?

Sometimes three or four birds will be at the feeder eating without troubling each other. Eating, minding their own business. But other times, a certain bird will not allow any other bird to eat while it is there. The type of bird varies, but every once in a while a greedy bird arrives who, sadly, is also a bully.

This happens occasionally at the birdbath too, but not with such vehemence. The small space of the bird feeder combined with a quite valuable resource, the bird seed, seems to bring out the more vicious side of particular birds' natures.

I can't help but think about us, about humans, when I watch the behaviour of these birds. Among us are the timid ones, the greedy ones, the brave ones and the bullies. Not such a bad set-up for a writer, like I said.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

As E-books Spread around the World

I think this article makes a lot of points I've tried to make here and elsewhere. E-books will be the best thing for writers like myself in places outside of UK and USA. I was surprised though when the author of this article, Mike Shatzkin says,

"....One exception: I’d expect the poorest parts of the world to get to near-zero print faster than the developed world because, ultimately, distributing books electronically will be so much cheaper that printed books will become a relative luxury."

Near zero print? Are African writers and publishers paying attention? This should affect how we all proceed. I recently helped a friend with a publishing contract she received. My take right now is do not give e-rights away unless the publisher can prove to you they are on top of this curve, that they know how to market and sell ebooks. Most traditional publishers do not.

I think the biggest problem in developing countries regarding ebooks is devices. If someone can sort out a cheap e-reader I think the ebook market will explode. Internet availability is growing in leaps and bounds. Also if books could be bought through cellphones, this could solve the problem of the non-banked (credit card) population in developing countries.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Raising Tilapia

I'm not one to waste things, except for maybe time. As regular readers know, we recently raised enough money to put in a new in ground pool (see pool here) . But our old pool was still usable so we decided we would use it to grow bream fish (Tilapia) for eating. My husband likes eating fish -a lot -and we rarely get bream here in Mahalapye.

I phoned the fisheries people in Mmadinare. I was not a little bit amazed by how knowledgeable those folks were and also how very easy it is to be a fish farmer, I'm quite lazy when it comes to manual work. Fish farming is perfect for lazy people.

Since my pool has a diameter of four metres, it meant I could keep 26 fish in it. The most important thing is the surface area of the water so they can get enough oxygen. I was told to put water in the pool up to about one metre and let it sit for four days to let the chlorine disappear. Then I could go and collect my fingerlings.

When the water was ready Giant Teenager No. 1 and I set off for Mmadinare about 150 kms away. The fingerlings were bought for 50t each. We were asked if we wanted one sex or mixed sex. Apparently they breed like crazy and things can get out of hand. But too we hoped to make our fish pool sustainable so we decided to get mixed sex. They advised us to get extras as some would die on the way home. So we left Mmadinare with 35 fish, 10 female and 25 male. One died on the way. We now have a bit of an overpopulation problem. We've decided to solve it by ignoring it and hoping for the best.

(that's the dead fish (female), and Senor Ramon in the back mourning the dead fish)

So we've had them now for about three weeks. At first the pool was quite clear and you could see them swim around and it was a good way for a writer to procrastinate, watching the fish swim around. Now the pool has gone a bit green, which is apparently a good thing according to the fish people, and you can't see them very well. But when the sun is out they like to all come to the surface, I think they're sun bathing, I'm not sure. They eat a kind of pellet I bought in Gaborone. But they also eat the algae and the insects and mosquito larvae.

Below is a photo of the fish sun bathing. Sorry the photo came out so that you can't see the fish, but they're there. Honest.

So that's my experience as a fish farmer so far. My conclusion is that compared to the many ways I try to avoid writing, this is one of the more calming and rewarding ones. I like going out to look at the fish and I like feeding them. I'd recommend this procrastination method to all writers.

I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Just One of Those Days

Being a writer is tough, especially nowadays. It's an odd occupation because you never quite know if you understand it, if you're getting anything right. There's always this mental pull and push between art and making a living. You want to write what and how you want, but you really can't unless you never want to be published. Even once published you don't really know if you've had success. You get reviews and royalty statements but do they really mean anything? Do they answer the questions in your head in any satisfactory way? Do they give you any real feedback about what took place? Do they assure you that it will all happen again?

If you're a plumber, for example, you go to plumbing school and you learn how to fit a toilet. And once you've become an expert at fitting a toilet you can be content in knowing that you can fit a toilet. With writing, today I write an exceptional story, the best I've ever written. It gets published. Everyone loves it. But that doesn't mean that now I know how to produce an exceptional story every day for now on. The next day after the exceptional story day, I'm mostly back to where a started. Maybe a few steps ahead, but only a few. Each story, each book, has its own unique path, one you will discover only if you're lucky. Many wrong paths have been cut through the bush to get to the end. Believe me. I've taken wrong paths.

On top of not knowing what you're really doing, just having this vague idea about how things work, we get to be writers in a time where the publishing industry is in flux and chaos. So not only do I not know what I'm doing, the publishers don't seem to know what they think I should be doing either. Odd books are shooting out of nowhere changing the landscape like a tornado ploughed through (i.e. Fifty Shades of Grey). Today I feel like we're all walking around blindfolded bumping into things, occasionally the things are soft and nice, occasionally they're not, but there's no reason to any of it.

Now if you can't count on publishers, then everyone says do it on your own, so you set out to self-publish. Two thousand people download your books but you've hardly made enough to buy a bag of groceries. You're bone tired trying to let people know about your books, to generate that much needed "hype". Your muse has run away, her wardrobe empty, and she left no number. She won't talk to you until you come back from where you've gone, unencumbered. You really cannot be a salesperson and a writer too. She won't allow it. She says I must choose.

But ...I wished for winter to be over, and it's warmer and maybe there really will be summer this year. And I think we're all okay. And I'm lucky in a million ways. So I'm hoping something will budge and let me see the light again. I'm digging deep looking for the faith.

I'm hoping and hoping it really is just one of those days and tomorrow won't be.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Botswana Gets First Ever Olympic Medal!!

Last night the 800 metre men's final at the 2012 Olympics was magical. As the Kenyan, David Rudisha broke the world record for the 800 metres with a time of 40.91 seconds with relative ease, few noticed that history was being made right behind him. 18 year old Motswana, Nijel Amos, took the silver medal in a world junior record time of 1:41.73 and was written into the history books as the first Motswana ever to take home a medal from the Olympics.

At the start of the Olympics, when our four member team set out for London, Batswana were fairly confident that this would be our year to finally get a medal. 400 metre star Amantle Montsho was almost certain to bring home a medal. She'd done wonders in India at the Commonwealth games and stood as the fastest woman at that distance. In her heats and even in the semi-finals she looked confidant and right on track. But sadly she missed out in the finals, a hair's breath behind the bronze winner. The country began to accept that maybe we would go home empty handed.

But then there was Nijel. In his heat he looked good. In the semi-finals I got a bit worried he looked like he was really pushing himself to the limit. And then there was last night's final. He ran such a mature confident race, holding back until he was needed and then giving everything. It really was a wonderful thing to behold.

Congratulations to Nijel Amos!!! Fantastic job!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Read an Excerpt of Anything For Money!

I'm over at my buddy Vanessa Gebbie's blog where she's put up an excerpt of the third book in my Kate Gomolemo Mysteries series, Anything for Money. Stop by and leave a comment. Let me know what you think!
Thanks again, Vanessa!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Murder for Profit- No 1 at Amazon for Books about Botswana!!

I'm trying not to be a crazy nutcase following the stats on my books at Amazon BUT I did come across this by accident- Murder for Profit is number one at Amazon today for books about Botswana. And Anything for Money and Claws of a Killer are in the top 20.

I'm really quite proud of this because I did it myself, it is so empowering. Often as an author you feel like you're at everyone's mercy. I try to make recommendations about how I think things might be done but it is up to the publisher to decide if they want to do it or not. In this case, I get to try everything I think might work and it seems like something is.

Enjoy your weekend. I'm off to see rhinos and elephants- see you in a week or so!!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Anything for Money and Claws of a Killer- FREE Downloads!!!

From today (14th) until the 18th, both Anything for Money and Claws of a Killer, the third and fourth Kate Gomolemo Mysteries will be FREE for download at Amazon.

Have no fear, if you haven't got a Kindle, you can download free software to read Kindle books on your laptop HERE.

To download click below:
Amazon USA
Amazon UK

To download click below:
Amazon UK
Amazon USA

And please, if you can, after reading leave a comment over at Amazon to let me know what you thought.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Authors - Keep Your Electronic Rights

It is no longer okay for authors to sit back and allow publishers complete control over their books. As this excellent article by Penelope Trunk proves while the publishing business is changing at warp speed, publishers themselves are stuck in the past. Can you allow your career to be directed by someone who doesn't understand how books are currently being sold?

I have contracts with traditional publishers for 17 books. For about half, I was sensible enough to keep my electronic rights. For now on I am going to do my best to never sell electronic rights unless they give me a deal I cannot refuse. Let them use their outdated methods with the print books, but I cannot sit by and watch my ebooks sold in a way that makes no sense. For all authors, ebooks are your future. If print books will survive at all, they are going to be sold online. So if your publisher has no internet marketing savvy your books will not sell. You will have to do all of the work and if you have to do all of the work, then why share the money?

Read this article by Penelope Trunk, it's important.
So I sold my book to a mainstream publisher and they sucked. I am going to go into extreme detail about how much they sucked, so I’m not going to tell you the name of the publisher because I got a lot of money from them. I’m just going to tell you that the mainstream publisher is huge, and if you have any respect left for print publishing, you respect this publisher. But you will not at the end of this post. (continued)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Things have been crazy and my poor neglected blog and blogging friends have suffered. What have I been doing???

1. Lots of house maintenance and a new pool (!!!)
Yes, the old out of ground pool was on its last legs and the manufacturer had changed the way the pools operates, so it was going to mean that we'd have to buy almost a completely new pool. My fish soul could not fathom a life without a pool, so we cleared our bank accounts and built this beautiful thing. We stare at it as if we're in love, especially at night when the lights are on. It is indeed a thing of beauty. As you can see it is right outside my office so a bit of a distraction for working, but I'll survive.

2. Trying to learn how to sell my self published books at Amazon
As you know I've self published three of my Kate Gomolemo mysteries at Amazon through Kindle Direct Publishing. I am on a seriously steep learning curve. I'm trying to find ways to promote the books. So far I've been visiting some awesome blogs. Have joined the Alliance for Independent Authors, which has a lot of resources. But it really does take a lot of time but I'm trying to think of it as a long term project. So far people have downloaded 814 books (I published on 18 May) but most of those were during the time that Murder for Profit was free. I've made $5.57 (USD) and 1.35 British pounds in royalties so far. Not so great but I'm optimistic. I've decided to use one day a week to market my books. Right now it's tending to spill over a bit, but I'm trying to keep it to one day.

3. Finishing a romance novella
I've recently finished my fifth romance novella. It is still a rough draft and in its "cooking phase". It involves dog school and boxing, as romance often do, and it is right up my street.

4. University is closed for the winter break
This means Giant Teenagers are home, actually only one right now, but still that equals more mess and cooking and eating.

So these are my excuses for neglecting my poor blog and my poor blogging friends. Sorry. I will try to improve. And here is a flower from my garden for a present. :)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Story of Lorato and Stanley

I thought I might re-post this column here in light of the government considering the ending of free ARVs in Botswana. This was first published in New Internationalist.

Lorato came over today with her new baby, Stanley. I’ve hardly seen her since her wedding. We used to work together and we became quite close. She’s younger than me and I often thought of her as a daughter. But as people do, we’ve drifted apart. She’s now a chicken farmer up north and I’m a writer and our busy lives have dwindled down to SMSs on holidays.

She was in Mahalapye with her new baby, Stanley. Such a middle-aged man sort of name for a tiny baby. I supposed it matched his calm demeanour, fat stomach and the contemplative look he gave me.

“Is he okay then?” I ask Lorato.

“So far.”

Some years ago Lorato dated a policeman. She loved him at first but then problems arose. She found he’d been cheating on her. Worst still, she found that the woman he’d been cheating on her with was HIV positive. She confronted him, he denied it. She went for a test. She was positive.

The evening she told me, I felt like I’d been hit with a brick. I wanted to find a way to make this man pay for what he’d done to my friend. Her brother had died from AIDS four years previously, just before the government made ARVs free to all who needed them. She knew about AIDS. She’d been careful. This man did this to her.

But time passed and she met a new man and life went on. She got married. They wanted children and now here was Stanley, the wise little man-baby.

Lorato has been lucky so far and has avoided ARVs. She changed how she ate, eating more vegetables and fruits and drinking lots of water. “The biggest thing is I avoid stress,” she said. “I know stress, it will kill me.”

She told me how during the preparations for her wedding, a strife ridden affair in the best cases, but with her mother, who I know too well, it was a nightmare. Her CD4 count had gone down to 247. The ARV programme in Botswana advises HIV positive people to start taking ARVs when their CD4 count goes below 250. But Lorato refused. She knew it was the stress of the wedding. She just needed to get through it and she’d be fine. And she was right. Her CD4 count is at 412 now, even after giving birth. She’ll take ARVs when she needs them, but wants to put it off for as long as possible.

She took ARVs during pregnancy, though. Botswana’s Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) programme is one of the most successful in the world. 95% of HIV positive mothers in the country are in the programme. Less than 3% of these mothers’ babies are born with HIV. She started taking the ARVs during the 29th week of pregnancy, three pills, two times per day. Once labour started she took the pills every three hours until Stanley was born.

“He was tested at six weeks, he’s okay,” she assures me. I look down at Stanley who seems to want to tell me something important, wagging his fists at me. “One more test at a year and half and we’ll know he’s safe and clear.”

He looks healthy and Lorato says he’s never been sick. The nurses advised her that it’s okay to breastfeed, but she’s taking no chances. She’s bottle feeding. “They told me it’s okay, but I don’t think so. Anything could go wrong.”

I hold Stanley who nods off reluctantly. “You know this is not all bad,” Lorato says. “There’s a good side to this HIV. I’m careful now; I pay attention to things… for him and for me. I don’t let stress get me down anymore. I manage it. I have to.”

There is so much doom and gloom around HIV. The scourge. There was a time in the 1990’s when it felt like the entire country was in mourning. Every weekend was for funerals. If you didn’t see someone for awhile, you didn’t ask. If a woman was pregnant and then never spoke about a baby, you didn’t either. During that time was when Lorato’s brother died. Sick and sick and then dead, at 22.

I look at Stanley and at Lorato and think about what a difference just a few years has made in Botswana and I’m very thankful.

Monday, July 2, 2012

WIN a copy of one of my Kate Gomolemo Mysteries!!

I'm a guest over at my friend Judy Croome's blog today. I'm writing about my recipe for being a writer in Botswana, how to write a book under our harsh conditions- and I'm not talking about the weather!

Stop by and you could win yourself one of two copies of one of my ebooks on offer.

Thanks again Judy!!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I'm Over at Wendy Noble's Place!!!

My good friend Wendy Noble has kindly hosted me at her blog as part of my effort to market my new Kate Gomolemo Mysteries now available as ebooks. I met Wendy when I just started writing about eight years ago over at Writers Weekly, a forum where I learned a lot about this writing business from people like her.

Here's a bit of my guest post about being a writer in Botswana:

Imagine if you will, a country with no trade publishers. A country the size of France with only three or four (if you stretch the definition) proper bookstores in the entire country, all located in the capital. A country with a population of 1.8 million where buying books is not a priority and when you ask, “Do you own a Kindle?” the most likely response would be silence and a face that defines the word confusion.

(To read the rest go HERE)

Thanks again, Wendy!!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Happy Short Story Day!!

Today is Short Story Day Africa (and I think Internationally too). I've been busy with various things trying to be part of the day.

1. I donated a story to the website
My story, The Colours of Love, which is in my collection In the Spirit of McPhineas Lata and Other Stories can be read at the Short Story Day Africa website.

2. I'm running a workshop
I'm running a workshop for junior secondary school children in my village at Parwe Junior Secondary School. The students will be writing stories around the theme "young in the city" for the writing competition HERE. The workshop will be this Friday at 10 AM.

3. I'm participating in YA Short Story Chain Gang
In celebration of the day, writers have grouped themselves into chain gangs. Each writer writes for an hour and then passes the story onto the next one (Rules HERE) . In the end, we hope, we have an exciting story. I'm in the YA group. Our story can be read and voted on HERE.

4. The Farafina Class of 2011, of which I'm a part, is Celebrating SSDay-Africa
Members of the group (people who attended last year's Farafina Workshop in Lagos) have written 100 word flash fiction and we've posted them at our blog- HERE.

5. I'm judging the SS Day- Africa Writing Competition for Under 12s
Kids are meant to write a story about an inanimate object. I'm looking forward to reading them! Learn more about the competition HERE

Also, Hope Road Publishing, in celebration of Short Story Day Africa, has posted another story from my collection, Funny Rich Man, read it HERE.

Hope you're celebrating Short Story Day wherever you are. Read, write, listen...enjoy!! Why not share your favourite stories?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Poem: A Fear of Drowning

A Fear of Drowning
By Lauri Kubuitsile

I skim on the surface
Like a boat, not a submarine.
I was never a submarine.
As you added more and more water,
I kept skimming.
I dip a toe in and feel it cool and enticing
But I won’t jump in;
I can’t.
You knew this.
I told you in words
Even if my actions lied.
I can’t get in.
I’m not made right.
I don’t have gills,
Or even a snorkel.
But I like water.
I watch you there
Your head bobbing on the surface
Diving deep
Time and again.
I’m jealous.
Of course I’m jealous.
But I know what I’m made of.
Paper can’t stand up to water
Never could.
Don’t make me.
Don’t pull me in.
Keep your distance.
Let me skim here on the surface.
It’s enough for me.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Love in the Shadows- Get the Ebook at Barnes and Noble!

The ebook for Love in the Shadows is now available at Barnes and Noble! Get it here.

Songbird Kedi Taukobong is living her dream. Enormously successful as an Afro-pop musician, she travels the continent performing to adoring crowds. However, fame comes at a price – a sinister stalker is watching her, intent on making her his. Kedi’s management team is determined to hire the best private investigator in the business, her ex, Sefhemo Phaladi.

Face to face for the first time since they split, Kedi and Sefhemo can’t deny the attraction still sizzling between them. But the stalker is getting too close. He has to be in Kedi’s inner circle. Can she really trust Sefhemo, especially after he betrayed her nine years ago?

Also available at Kobo- here.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Get Murder for Profit for FREE!!

The second book in my Kate Gomolemo Mystery Series is on promotion at Amazon. If you have a Kindle, you can get Murder for Profit for FREE.

Click HERE!!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Short Story Day Africa

(from their press release)

On Wednesday 20 June revel in a celebration of fiction’s short- yet-perfectly-crafted form, the short story.

Last year on June 21st, the shortest day of the year, we invited you to participate in Short Story Day South, a southern-African celebration of short fiction.

This year on June 20th, Short Story Day goes global with the launch of International Short Story Day and Short Story Day Africa.

Short Story Day Africa aims to highlight the outstanding short fiction Africa has to offer. We encourage every one of all ages and all genders to do something in honour of the short story. This could be absolutely anything, from running a creative workshop or class, a competition, making a short film or film adaptation of a short story, organizing a spoken word night, a reading, an author appearance, a literary salon, or simply picking up a short story and enjoying it, for maybe the first or the hundredth time.

Whatever it is you're doing, we want to hear about it! Send us details of your event to, a link to your website (if applicable), and any images you have, and we'll put it on the brand new Short Story Day Africa website, where you can also find short stories to read and enjoy, short story recommendations, competitions, giveaways and more.

Follow us on Twitter @shortstoryAFR or Facebook Short Story Day Africa

What’s it all about?
The concept, celebrating the short story on the shortest day of the year, is borrowed from the pilot project, National Short Story Day (, which launched in the UK in October 2010 and concluded on 21 December (their shortest day). The project grew organically using social networking tools (Facebook and Twitter) and was a great success. Short Story Day South followed on 21 June 2011, culminating in a series of events around the country, including the popular Chain Gang Challenge.

This year, the organizers of National Short Story Day and Short Story Day South, decided to collaborate to create an international celebration. International Short Story Day was born, with Short Story Day Africa focusing on African writing and writers.

Who can take part?
Readers and writers of all ages, teachers, students...YOU!

Competitions and Giveaways
As part of the International Short Story Day celebrations, The Book Lounge (South Africa) and Comma Press (United Kingdom) challenge you to a chain story competition. At 8.30am GMT* on Wednesday 20th June, the first literary legends will sit down around the globe and start writing. An hour later, the keyboard will be wrested from his/her hands and passed on.

As each segment of the story unravels, we’ll upload it to the Short Story Day Africa website. Readers will be able to watch the stories unfold online and, at 2.30pm GMT, when the last writer adds the final full stop, the polls will open and readers can begin voting for their favourite story. Prizes sponsored by Comma Press.

* 9.30am UK and 10.30am SA

This year also sees the return of the popular Fiction Flash and, during the week running up to Short Story Day, we will be giving away books and prizes. See the Short Story Day Africa website for details.

This year, the Short Story Africa has a new team member. Tiah Beautement will be spearheading an all new Short Story Day Africa children’s programme. See the website for details of kids’ workshops, competitions and giveaways.

In the week surrounding short story day (18 – 24 June) we will publish short stories from some of Africa’s most talented. Previously published writers wish to take advantage of this opportunity for greater exposure of their work, should see the website for submission guidelines.

Who is behind Short Story Day Africa?

Rachel Zadok is the author of Gem Squash Tokoloshe (shortlisted for The Whitbread First Novel Award 2005 and The John Llewellyn Rhys Prize 2005). Her long-awaited second novel, The Gathering Station, is due out April 2013. She lives in Cape Town with her husband and her daughter.

Isla Haddow-Flood is a writer, editor and marketing specialist who works specifically on cultural fields in Africa. She currently works for the Africa Centre (, advising on and implementing marketing strategies across their 10 projects. She lives in Cape Town with her husband and son.

Colleen Higgs is a writer and a publisher. She launched Modjaji Books (, an independent press for southern African women writers, in 2007. She has two published collections of poems, Halfborn Woman (2004) and Lava Lamp Poems (2011). In 2012, her first collection of short stories, Looking for Trouble was published. She lives in Cape Town with her daughter.

Tiah Marie Beautement is the author of the novel Moons Don’t Go to Venus. Shorter works have appeared in various publications, including two anthologies: The Edge of Things and Wisdom Has a Voice. She lives on the Garden Route with her husband, two children, Orwell the dog and five chickens all named Eva.

Let's Get Involved!!!
I've jumped on the bandwagon and have my short story, The Colours of Love, up at their site. Stop by and give it a read. Let me know what you think.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Kate Gomolemo Mysteries are Now Available as Ebooks!!

My Kate Gomolemo Mysteries have only been available as paper books- that is until today! Three of the four books in the series are now available as ebooks at Amazon!

Murder for Profit (Book Number 2)

Something is not right in Mogobane. With a note scribbled in a child’s hand, Detective Kate Gomolemo is drawn into the dangerous, brutal and horrific world of muti killing.

Four children and their grandmother are burnt to death in their mud hut at the lands. The local police constable writes it off as an accidental fire, but within a few hours of her being in the village, Kate realises that can’t be right. She soon realises that the people in Mogobane are not always who they appear to be- from the local business man, to the dark traditional doctor, she even begins to suspect the police constable.

Despite the danger in the air, Kate sets out to find the killers. She will not rest until the murderers of the five innocent victims are put behind bars, but will she have to pay the ultimate price for her stubborn search for justice.


Anything For Money (Book Number 3)

Detective Kate Gomolemo is not sure what to make of Helen Segole’s wild allegations. She’s claiming government ministers and high-ranking civil servants are behind the cold-blooded murder of her father, but Kate wonders if Helen is not confused by the grief she’s feeling.
Against her better judgement, Kate agrees to do some investigations and suddenly she’s swept into a high-rolling, dangerous game of power, greed and corruption. The people behind it will stop at nothing to get what they want. How many people will have to die before Kate finds Goitsemang Segole’s killers? How far can greed push a person?


Claws of a Killer (Book Number 3)

Everything is going great for Detective Kate Gomolemo. The second love of her life, John Mogami, has stopped pushing her to set a date for their wedding. Her son and his wife are both nearby in Gaborone and they have big news- she's going to be a grandmother! Things are going well until a young University of Botswana student is found dead. Raped, with three odd claw marks down her body.

Botswana is not the home to serial killers, Kate is sure of that. But her certainty is shaken as the bodies pile up. And to make matters worse, her new partner, the annoying Ntoko, realises the killer is working to a schedule. Every fourteen days he must kill.

As the days pass, the pressure builds. Will Kate be able to stop him before this monster kills again? She'll risk everything to catch him and in the end she almost does.