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 Let them use their outdated methods with the print books, but I cannot sit by and watch my ebooks sold in a way that makes no sense.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!!