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THE Book Club How one woman’s passion sparked a cult-phenomenon

Why you should be reading

South African

SPECULATIVE FICTION

FELICIA Living her Dream

AUTHORS MAGAZINE | 1


ditor

A message from the

Tis the Season to be

I am sure that writers across the globe were relieved to see the end of November, marking the end of NaNoWriMo, one of the most gruelling writing challenges in the world. While writers spent their 30 days of November trying desperately to complete a 50,000 word manuscript, readers spent their time counting down the days until December 1st for a very different reason. Christmas shopping! Personally, I side with the latter group, and there is no gift so coveted as a shiny new paperback. As the saying goes, “People who say I’m hard to buy for must not know where to buy books.” That being said, we at Authors Magazine commend every single NaNoWriMo participant. Whether you succeeded or fell short of your word count, simply taking on this mammoth task earns our respect. Now it is time to relax, unwind, spend time with the loved ones you have no doubt neglected for the past few weeks, and hopefully indulge in a little reading as you recover from the back ache, wrist cramp and headaches which are symptomatic of National Novel Writing Month. If you’re wondering which books you should be buying these holidays, check out our Recommended Reads section on page 38. Our celebrity cover profile, Felicia Mabuza-Suttle recommends anything by Robin Sharma. Best known for “The Felicia Show” Mabuza-Suttle took time out of her very busy schedule to chat to us about her latest book, Live Your Dream – an inspirational memoir about her personal and professional achievements, which encourages everyone to follow their own dreams and, more importantly, to enjoy the fruits of their labour once they get there.

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Reading...

I will certainly be enjoying the holidays and using the time afforded to try and make a dent in my massive to-be-read pile. Lately I’ve been enjoying a wide range of reads and my holiday reading includes Two Brothers by Ben Elton (historical fiction), The Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson (fantasy) and The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North (Mystery).

I am also looking forward to (finally!) reading The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls (Memoir). The story focuses on how Jeanette and her siblings had to fend for themselves as the dysfunction of their family escalated. It is a story of triumph against all odds, but also a tender, moving tale of unconditional love in a family. And that, I believe, as we enter the festive season, is what we should all focus on. Life is busy, time is fleeting, but it is important to carve out slices of our time to spend with those we cherish most. Family is our most important treasure. Let’s keep that in mind as we celebrate the joys of Christmas and being together. On that note, we at Authors Magazine would like to wish you a safe and happy holiday, filled with fun, family, and of course... books! What books are on your Christmas wish list? Tweet us at @ authorsmag and let us know what books you will be reading these holidays.

Melissa Delport


Contents

COVER FEATURE

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FELICIA Living her Dream

ARTICLES

PUBLISHER Lesiba Morallane ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER Sardia Mustapher MANAGING EDITOR Shalate Davhana EDITOR Marion Marchand ASSISTANT EDITOR Joan Hack ADVERTISING COMMUNICATION Dineo Mahloele LAYOUT AND DESIGN Apple Pie Graphics Tel: 079 885 4494 CONTRIBUTORS Melissa Delport Noxolo Chalale Helga Pearson Monique Snyman Dave de Burgh Cristy Zinn Dineo Mahloele Ian Tennent Justin Fox

10 14 20 22 25 26 28 32 40

Why you should be reading SOUTH AFRICAN SPECULATIVE FICTION THE BOOK CLUB Reading them into Victory U.S. TEEN WRITER At the top of his game QUANTITY vs. QUALITY The ultimate industry question PERFORMING POET Breaks the silence YOUR PUBLISHER HAS CLOSED DOWN Now what? BOOK DASH I’m absolutely entitled to MY POINT OF VIEW FROM INDIE TO PUBLISHED: Part 5 My self-publishing experience

REGULARS A Message from the Editor.........................................................02 Life According to Nox.......................................................09/13/24 International Focus Author Rachel Morgan....................................................................21 On the Couch.....................................................................................31 Justin Fox The story of a South African Farm...............................................36 Recommended Reads...................................................................38 AUTHORS MAGAZINE: PO Box 92644, Mooikloof, Pretoria East Email: team@authorsmag.com To advertise online please email team@authorsmag.com or contact Ms Dineo Mahloele on 084 299 6812 DISCLAIMER The views and opinions expressed in this magazine are intended for informational purposes only. Authors Magazine takes no responsibility for the contents for the contents of the advertising material contained herein. All efforts have been taken to verify the information contained herein, and views expressed are ont necessarily those of Authors Magazine. E&OE AUTHORS MAGAZINE | 3


FELICIA Living her Dream by Melissa Delport

Felicia Mabuza-Suttle needs little introduction. From businesswoman to talk show host, Felicia is an international award-winning entrepreneur, an inspirational speaker, an author, and a philanthropist. She is the President and co-owner of Leadership Success International, LLC, an organization that specializes in executive leadership training and business communications. Mabuza-Suttle is one of the founding members and shareholders of Pamodzi Investment Holdings. The South African Broadcast Corporation (SABC) also named her among the “100 Great South Africans.” Born and raised in Sophiatown, Johannesburg, Felicia’s dream was to unchain herself from the shackles of apartheid that held back most black people in South Africa. She opted to leave South Africa – venturing to the U.S in search of an education and success.

I knew the most powerful weapon against apartheid was to leave South Africa, travel abroad, and get an education. I knew I would see the end of the brutality of apartheid in my lifetime and that freedom would come. I set out to prepare myself for that future.” And so it came to be that Felicia settled abroad, earning herself a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism, followed by an MA in Mass Communication. Felicia built a life for herself in the land of hope and glory, until with one single plea, the great Nelson Mandela brought her home. It was 1991, and Mandela made a clarion call, challenging all South Africans living abroad to return home to help build a new democracy. Despite her successful career in the States, Felicia answered his call and left America. Felicia didn’t, however, integrate quietly back into South African Society. She exploded onto the scene, using television as her platform for change. The Felicia Show was not only the first audience talk show in the country, but it was also the first South African talk show hosted by a black woman.

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A

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Aptly referred to as “The Show that gets South Africans talking”, The Felicia Show focused on lifestyle topics and various philanthropic efforts. At a time when South Africa was transitioning from an apartheid government into democracy, the people had found a voice in Felicia. Her show enabled black and white South Africans to come together and debate issues they could not discuss during the apartheid era. Over the course of her years in television, Felicia has interviewed such luminaries as Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and Britain’s former first lady, Cherie Blair. Celebrity personality interviewees include Larry King, Danny Glover and Diana Ross. Authors Magazine are honoured to have interviewed Felicia for our December issue: Your first novel, Dare to Dream, a best-seller and publisher’s choice, was a memoir of your earlier life. Live Your Dream is a continuation of that memoir, but what inspired you to write this story? Many young people ask me to mentor them. Being so far away, I decided to write a book aimed at inspiring the young and mature with strategies to help people to realize their dreams. I thought mapping out my journey, sharing stories of courage, determination and persistence would be beneficial. How I got close to people I admired, and learned about their stories, would be helpful. I wanted to share the many quotes that have served as my roadmap to success and now, to significance. Success is about self-empowerment and significance is about empowering others. What message do you hope readers will take from this book?

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There are three important messages to take away from this book: • No one and nothing should stop you from realizing your dream. You were born to make an impact. • It’s not where you come from that matters, but where you are going. Don’t let your past hold you back. Let it propel you to greater heights. As a product of apartheid, I refused to allow apartheid to determine my future. • You are never too old to give birth to your dreams. Never give up on your dream. We were also born for a purpose. Make it happen. How have you changed or grown since the first book, Dare to Dream, and has this impacted your writing? Dare to Dream was literally a book about my life, my wishes and dreams. Many called them “dreams of grandeur” but I knew that if given the opportunity, I could make those dreams come true. My dreams were realistic and doable. All it needed to make my dreams comes true, was education and exposure. I ventured to get that and all was possible. As Mandela says, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Dare to Dream was a story of possibilities, determination and persistence.

call to South Africans living abroad to come back home to serve their country. My family understood I was passionate about making a difference in my country. I knew with the talk show, bringing black and white, young and mature together in communication, we could create understanding for a better South Africa. I was a transatlantic mother and wife. Sometimes I would do homework at times long distance with my children, sharing their victories in tennis tournaments and beauty pageants over the phone. I wish there was Skype then and social media. I would teach my husband to cook for the girls long distance. It was tough but we survived the twelve and a half years! How has being a mom moulded or influenced the decisions you have made in your life? Motherhood is extremely rewarding but still comes with a lot of guilt. As the eldest sister, I find myself being mother to my sisters as well. When I visit South Africa, I usually travel with three suitcases, two full of clothes for my sisters, brother, their children. I love children, so my friends’ kids always have something from me. They call me “Mother Felicia”, after Mother Teresa, because I genuinely deeply care. I feel blessed and grateful.

You married Earl Suttle in 1976, but after your return to South Africa you spent many years apart, with you living here in Johannesburg, and Earl in Atlanta, Georgia. What was that like and how did you manage to focus on your family with all that was going on in your life at the time?

You are now living back in the States, in Orlando. What prompted your decision to return to America?

It was difficult. There were many lonely nights and tears when the television bright lights went off. But I was focused on what I determined was a ‘calling’ and a mission. I was answering Mandela’s

I returned to America because my family was there. But now, both my daughters are gone – Lindiwe lives in Cape Town and Berlin, and Zani lives in Copenhagen and Miami. It’s lonely to

Husband (laughs). On a serious note, family. I live in Miami and Atlanta. I love the sea, thus Miami and I have my office and home in Atlanta. I also have a home in Cape Town.


be in an empty nest. I hardly go upstairs to the girls’ rooms. They are exactly how they left them when they left for college. Do you miss home, and would you ever consider settling back in South Africa permanently? Yes, I miss South Africa. As I always say, my body is in America, but my heart is in South Africa. South Africa gives me a sense of purpose. America makes me chase profits (money). I prefer purpose over profit now. I do plan to do more in South Africa in 2016. My passion is to inspire young people to realize their potential. I do have a home in Cape Town and I am one of the founding members of Pamodzi Group. Your business acumen and achievements are inspiring. You have founded several business ventures. I know that you studied journalism and mass communications, both of which have served you well, but to what do you owe your entrepreneurial success? I grew up in a family of entrepreneurs. I wanted to create jobs and opportunities for others. My production company, FMS Productions, commissioned the show to SABC and later eTV. I wanted to one day own a restaurant like my grandfather, who was the first black man to own a restaurant in downtown Johannesburg. That inspired me to start the first dine and dance upmarket restaurant, Back O’ the Moon at Gold Reef City Casino. I am an image fanatic. I started my own eyewear line, that is sold in South Africa and other countries on the African continent. Thanks to Ndaba Ntsele, Chairman and CEO of Pamodzi Group for getting me involved in a company that has empowered a number of people. Pamodzi was one of the pioneers in black economic empowerment – started in 1996.

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Irwin Schaffer helped me start Felicia eyewear. There were also women I looked up to as role models: My grandmother who was one of the women who started the Zezele YWCA in Johannesburg. My mother, Olga Williams, who demonstrated love to us all. Marina Maponya, one of the leading businesswomen, Wendy Luhabe, a friend and supportive businesswoman, Barbara Walters, who shaped the careers of many women in the media.

FUN FACTS Tea or Coffee? Coffee

High heels or slippers? High heels Music or movies? Music What is your favourite TV show? I’m a news junkie but I do love ‘The Voice’ Who is your favourite author? Robin Sharma Who have been your greatest mentors in life - the people who have inspired you to keep going, and to push through the trials and tribulations which stood in your way? I believe my number one mentor is definitely my husband, Dr. Earl Suttle. He gave me a head-start and paid for my first year at university. Today we are partners in marriage and business. As I always say, “Alongside every strong and successful woman, is a supportive and

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self-actualized man.”

Your greatest achievement to date? Being a mother

Philanthropist George Soros has also played a key role in my life. He paid for my entire undergraduate and graduate studies. I will always be indebted to him.

Tell us something that no one else knows about you (or a few fun facts we can incorporate) I’m a germophobe!

Thanks to my partners at Pamodzi, Ndaba Ntsele, who brought me into the company. Businessman Solly Krok helped me make my business dream to own a restaurant a reality.

Live Your Dream is published by Victory International Publishers, Atlanta, Georgia and is available at CNA, Exclusive Books and all leading bookshops, as well as on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Apple iStores, Kobo, and Loot Felicia can be contacted through her publicist: Helen Holyoake of Helco Productions – helen@helco.co.za


LIFENox

Cheesy Choices

according to

I was hungry.

I’d been waiting in his car for almost an hour in the dark. I was craving something cheesy. Maybe some roasted potatoes with some kind of cheese sauce. I hoped the restaurant would add some pizazz to my very basic requirements.

My not-so-charming Date eventually came back and we drove towards the south to Gold Reef City. The last time I was there, was a happy Sunday afternoon with my Awesomes, but now, being here on a Thursday night with this man, I just wanted potatoes, cheese and to get home before 10. But something inside me kept hoping things would get better. Surely this man hadn’t spent the past couple of weeks trying to get my number just so that he could take me to a lovely restaurant and act like he didn’t really want me there. Nonetheless, I kept smiling and tried to carry our dull conversation to somewhere brighter. I ordered something I couldn’t quite pronounce but I knew it had lots of cheese, even if there weren’t any potatoes. Mr Date ordered a gourmet burger which looked almost yummier than my something delicious meal that the waiter brought to our table. My food was all I had hoped for and more. It was deliciously delicious! But Mr Date just sat there, scrolling down his Facebook timeline. I tried to ask about his family, his hobbies, his criminal record (because I thought maybe... never mind), but he just sat there going through his phone, making calls, and leaving his food to get cold. I realised something that was profoundly beautiful about that horrible date: I really enjoyed the cheese. Some of us spend so much time complaining about our bosses that we don’t take the time to value our colleagues that make our days endurable. When we meet our friends, we always talk about the money we don’t have, instead of appreciating that genuine friendships and healing hugs are free. Sometimes, you just need to enjoy the cheese. (Then go home and never go on a date with that man again)

by Noxolo Chalale

Injured

I was on my way to the first Women in Dialogue session and my excitement levels were dancing in the clouds. The same clouds that had ushered in the cloud front that morning. We were less than a kilometre away from my stop when we saw him. The taxi slowed down and eventually stopped. We all stared at the unconscious bloody man lying in the middle of the road. Another man was with him, seemingly trying to check whether he was alive or not. We just stared. Actually no, we didn’t JUST stare.

We also commented on how sad it was that whatever happened, happened on such a cold day. We wondered what time whatever happened, had happened and by how many minutes we had missed it by. We came up with theories as to what happened and reasoned that he was probably hit by a car. But no one got out of the taxi to do anything for this injured man lying in the middle of the right lane of a quiet street in Newtown. We just looked through the windows of our warm taxi listening to Sunday slow jams, and moments later, drove away. I felt all sorts of bad, but not bad enough to stop the taxi... because after all, I had somewhere to be. And we all have somewhere else to be. We simply spare a few moments of pseudo sympathy for people who need us. We have friends and family who are unemployed, yet we don’t help them with some rice and veggies because that would mean we can’t buy our feta cheese. While chasing deadlines, we rush past those who are dying at work. We go to church and pray for our pain yet leave other humans to dry their own tears. Because we expect the other man to help. Yet, the other man could have stolen the injured man’s valuables. The other man could have been the cause of the blood. The injured man could have died. I’ll never know because I just stared and drove away.

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Why you should be reading

South African

SPECULATIVE FICTION by Helga Pearson

Let me see if I can perhaps pique your interest for a moment and explain why, at least in a South African context, Speculative fiction might be the one of the most exciting genres to immerse yourself in right now. I know what you’re thinking. The last thing the book industry needs is yet another genre classification considering we have so many as it is. From the relatively traditional YA and Science fiction, to the more exotic Space Opera, Vampire Erotica and even - I swear I’m not making this up - ‘New Weird’ and ‘Bizarro Fiction’, there are indeed a lot of genre categories and subcategories. Historically, the term Speculative fiction is attributed to the famous Science fiction writer Robert Heinlein, who coined the phrase in an essay he wrote in 1947. The term eventually came to be used to collectively describe works in the genres of Science fiction, Fantasy, and Horror. Speculative fiction also includes works that fall outside of these genres and yet don’t sit comfortably anywhere else. Speculative fiction in other words, is the Guardian of the Strange who unfolds her fearful wings to welcome all the weird, non-conformist and rebel children of the literary extended family. So why Speculative fiction and why

South Africa? What do these two things have to do with one another? Over the past few years, there has been a perceptible increase in the number of books being produced by South African authors in this category. At the same time, there does seem to be a burgeoning local audience who appreciates this type of fiction and eagerly awaits more. Charlie Human, the acclaimed author of ‘Apocalypse Now Now’ asks, “Why are we now seeing an upsurge in the genre in South Africa? Why is speculative fiction – scifi, fantasy and all their weird children – becoming a way for South Africans to express themselves? That may be hard to fully appreciate and quantify. Certainly the rocky political and cultural transition we have experienced as a country in the last 20 years may have something to do with it. Alongside this, we also have a new generation of socially-savvy and mediaconscious writers who are choosing to express their feelings and ideas in a way that they and their peers can appreciate. There is obviously still more work to be done. Appealing to a South African reading audience can be tough, even if the situation does show promising

improvement. Consider Lauren Beukes, undeniably the reigning queen of Speculative fiction in South Africa. Her book, ‘Zoo City’ won the Arthur C Clarke award in 2011 and yet, at the time, both Beukes and her work were still relatively unknown in South Africa. Beukes herself has said that it was only after winning the award that her audience here at home began to grow. As Lauren Beukes noted, ‘South Africans have a horrible habit of avoiding South African fiction.’ Which is a barefaced truth. And yet, Speculative fiction appears to have an amazing power to break through these barriers and give South Africans a fresh perspective on the kind of fiction being created by local authors. Consider this quote from a noted blogger in South Africa: “South African speculative fiction is single-handedly responsible for getting me interested in my own country’s fiction. If you’re from the US or UK you’ve probably never thought of the novels from your country as being largely monolithic or just completely avoided all of them on the assumption that they would be dreary. But that’s exactly how I felt.” - Lauren Smith

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Not only in South Africa can this blossoming of new thought and expression be seen, but also across the African Continent. Jonathan Dotse of Ghana says an African vision for speculative fiction offers up “not the science fiction of your grandfather or the Foundation of your Asimov” but “the dystopian gloom of failed states, the iron rule of corruption, cartels snaking cold fingers into the upper echelons of government, and hi-tech gangs of disillusioned youth.” So if you’re looking for great speculative fiction to add to your reading list, here are just some authors to consider.

Charlie Human has been internationally recognised as a standout voice in South African speculative fiction since the release his debut title, ‘Apocalypse Now Now’, bringing a much-needed flavour of ‘braaivleis’ and table-shaped mountains to the literary scene. Lauren Beukes is a novelist, short story writer, journalist and television scriptwriter. ‘Zoo City’ is the winner of the Arthur C Clarke award of 2010 and her book, ‘Broken Monsters’ was ‘short-listed’ for the 2010 BSFA Award for best novel. Sarah Lotz is a screenwriter and novelist and has recently won the 2015 British Fantasy Award for her book, ‘The Three’. Zakes Mda is a novelist, poet and playwright. His book Heart Of Redness combines elements of South African history and mythology to produce incredibly moving, thought-provoking fiction. Fred Strydom is a strong local advocate of speculative fiction. His debut book, ‘The Raft’ rocketed onto the scene this year and we eagerly anticipate more from him.

Other notable authors include: Cat Hellisen, Louise Greenberg, Angela Meadon, Dave De Burgh, Melissa Delport, Nerine Dorman, S A Patridge, Yelena Calavera, Carlyle Labuschagne. FRED STYDOM

ZAKES MDA

SARAH LOTZ LAUREN BEUKES

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CHARLIE HUMAN


LIFENox according to

My Sunday Stories

by Noxolo Chalale

I wasn’t screaming. I was praying.

Death shakes us and for a moment we re-evaluate our lives, but soon we go back to the routine of taking another breath and eating another meal. We read inspirational quotes or hear about someone doing something super amazing and for a moment we re-evaluate our lives, but soon we go back to being mediocre and complacent. We are constantly being woken up by life, but for some reason we keep napping.

Neo was driving.

Some of us never wake up.

2: Asleep Part 1 Please don’t let us die! This can’t be happening! Not now! Lord, Please Save Us!

Very bright truck lights in front of us. His sister was sitting in the passenger seat.

Part 2

I closed my eyes.

Neo is not my favourite driver. Neo is also not his real name.

I was at the back.

I just don’t feel safe when he’s driving. He speeds unnecessarily then brakes and swerves abruptly because he didn’t see that car or the curve or the road.

I waited for the crash. Two hours before my body was thrown against the back of the passenger seat, things were normal. My friends and I were talking, laughing and singing along to happy songs. But as much as I loved their company in this little Mpumalanga town, I wanted to get back to Pretoria.

But I was really tired and this trip was the end of a very long very exhausting week. With Neo driving and his sister in the passenger seat, I sat in the back determined to nap during the 1 hour trip back to Pretoria.

My trip was the end of a very long very exhausting week. With Neo driving and his sister chatting, I was grateful that I could nap during the 1 hour trip.

Everything about his driving meant I should’ve stayed awake during the trip. It seemed careless of me to want to sleep while going 140km per hour towards danger.

Then it happened.

So my responsible self and my sleepy self left kept me stuck in that annoying half-nap. You know, when you can hear what’s happening around you but you keep very still with your eyes closed and hope your body responds to the sleeping position… but it doesn’t.

I woke up as he slammed on the brakes and my body was thrown against the back of the passenger seat. I saw the bright truck lights in front of us and the dark image of another car to the left. We were either going to collide with the truck or the car. But we didn’t. The sound of our heartbeats echoed in the air for a while until someone broke the silence, and not before long I had fallen asleep again. And today, so much happens to and around us.

Maybe instead of trying so hard to nap, I should’ve used that energy to voice my concerns. Neo might’ve slowed down and paid more attention to stop signs. But by saying something about his driving, I was also risking two other responses: 1. “This is my car, so if you don’t like how I drive, get out” continued on page 24

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“Reading them

How one woman’s passion sparked

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m into Victory”

d a cult-phenomenon

by Melissa Delport

There is no disputing the power of “word-of-mouth” when it comes to book marketing. Nothing has quite the same effect as a voracious reader’s recommendation, and many authors spend their lives trying to find their book champions – ambassadors who encourage and influence others to read their life’s work. Enter Tracy Fenton, of Hertfordshire, England. A little over a year ago, Tracy founded THE Book Club (TBC) on Facebook. What started out as a small group of like-minded readers has blossomed into a community of almost 4000 close-knit bookworms who not only share a passion for books, but who pull together like family, supporting one another in times of need. The power of this club is immeasurable. Authors have found their ratings skyrocketing when TBC members advocate their books, and readers have found a playground to discuss their favourite books... when they’re not actually reading them! I was fortunate enough to interview Tracy, the woman behind it all. This married mother-of-two has always loved books. In fact, she read no less than ten books on her honeymoon! She is also a successful entrepreneur, and spends her days working alongside her husband. The couple opened Plan-It interiors over ten years ago, a planning company which specialises in the design and fitment of commercial buildings such as offices, restaurants and hotels. Despite this, and running TBC, Tracy still manages to find time for her two sons Jack (16) and Ben (13), a diabetic Bichon Frise named Charlie, and about 30 guppies which won’t stop procreating!

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Before we get to THE Book Club, and all that that implies, please tell us a bit more about your “day” job? I work full time with my husband, Jason. He does all the designs and plans, while I take care of all the administration, paperwork, answering of phones and customer service. We work from home in an office built in our garden so unfortunately I have never been able to be late due to rush hour traffic or tube strikes.

Speaking of Jason... There is much banter about “Mr Fenton” on THE Book Club – how he has to “share” you with almost 4000 other people. Does the elusive “Mr Fenton” read, and does he ever give you grief about the time you spend lost in the world of books? This is one of my many personal failures in life, neither my husband nor my 2 sons read, so they are pretty much unimpressed with my reading and certainly with TBC and the time I spend on it. Having said that Jason does read on holiday and one of his favourite series is Samuel Carver by Tom Cain – who I tracked (stalked) on Facebook and arranged for him to send Jason a signed book for his birthday! My husband is extremely proud of what I have achieved although he does have the occasional moan when I am supposed to be doing my real work and I am distracted by something on the group.

I can imagine he would, but a signed Tom Cain must have gone a long way to easing his concerns! So, how do you find the time to admin such a large group? Because I work from home, Facebook is always on in the background. When I set up the group a year ago I asked 2 “virtual” friends to be admin with me

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(since TBC we have now met several times and I consider them my real friends) and earlier this year I asked 4 more active members to help with the admin. I am very organised and efficient and because I love the group so much I can always find the time.

With everything else going on in your life, what initially inspired you to open TBC? I was a member of a very large book club on Facebook which, due to its size, fell victim to trolling and the occasional keyboard warrior. There were about 20 or so members like myself who took reading seriously but loved to have a joke, the group started to have a negative feel and the majority of the posts on that group veered away from books and reading and became irrelevant. On a whim I decided to set up TBC (THE Book Club) and messaged

the 20 members I had a connection with and asked if they wanted to join a small, select group of elite readers to discuss books. They said yes and 12 months later we have just over 3700 members (430 of which are authors).

Funny you mention that, because one thing that strikes me about TBC is the lack of “bickering” that so often frequents bigger FB groups. How do you deal with “trolls”? Because we set the group up as a Secret Group on Facebook it means that noone can find us without a personal invitation from a member and anyone added to the group has to be a friend of one of the members, this means that 99% of our members are genuine book lovers. Due to the amount of members we have and the fact that sometimes the written word can be misconstrued you are always going to get an occasion


when bickering occurs, and then you can also get the person who likes to stir up trouble and be controversial. We have had to block a couple of members in the early days because of their comments, but we always message them first and explain that their comments or opinions have upset members or been deliberately offensive. There is always at least 1 admin member on line “lurking” so we tend to be quick to react to any unsavoury behaviour. Having said that, we haven’t had any problems for months.

Even with the occasional problem, the pros obviously far outweigh the cons. What are some of the more memorable experiences you’ve had since starting this group? Too many to mention; meeting the authors in real life and they know who I am. Having the guts to sit down and chat to Lee Child about Tom Cruise!

Having my name used in 2 books and being acknowledged in several books, being invited to launch parties; getting personal messages from Peter James at my son’s barmitzvah; receiving private messages from members whose lives have changed since joining the group… the list is endless.

You mention a barmitzvah, which brings me to my next question. I saw a photograph of you reading at that event (inset). You are nothing if not committed! What are some of the strangest places you’ve stuck your nose in a book? If I am in the midst of a book which at TBC we call a CPID (Can’t Put It Down), I have been known to read whilst cooking, at my in-laws (I’ll read on the toilet pretending I have an upset stomach!), always at the hairdressers (3 hours of uninterrupted reading time whilst having my roots done). I even

read at the nail bar – using my nose to turn the pages on the kindle!

How many books do you read a year? According to Goodreads I have read 102 books this year – so I would anticipate another 10 to add on.

Do you find that running TBC has reduced your reading time, or inspired you to read even more? Yes and No. Obviously I am not reading as much because of the time I spend on the group. However as I mentioned before if I am in the midst of a CPID book, I will read it within a couple of days. Sometimes there are the most brilliant discussions on TBC which means I actually spend my evenings reading all the comments and posts on the group instead of my book – so I am reading more – but it is TBC posts not books.

With author John Marrs

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Celebrating the 1st Birthday of The Book Club are (from left) Jane Isaac, Caroline Mitchell, Tracy Fenton and Lisa Cutts

set up Sara N Pipa Kick Ass – together we got 152 ladies to join our group, had t-shirts made with a logo, pestered local companies for goody bags, created a website and weekly newsletters leading up to the event and raised a staggering £35k the first year. Whilst all this was happening my younger brother, Jimmie, was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma so the charity had a really personal meaning. This year we took part in Race4Life as Kick Ass 2 – as thankfully both Pipa and Sara (and my brother) are all in remission and we raised another £25k.

You seem to have an amazing ability to connect with people. I know there are numerous admins on TBC, but you are, without a doubt, the “voice” of the club. Why do you think the members identify so well with you, in particular? Truthfully I have no idea... I’d like to think it’s due to my charm, sophistication and above average intelligence but it’s more likely to be my sarcastic sense of humour!

At the launch of Killer Women are (from left) Louise Voss, Helen Smith, Tracy Fenton and Tammy Cohen How has your reading evolved over the years with the increasing popularity of e-readers? Before I switched to a kindle 3 years ago, I would always have at least 7 paperbacks next to my bedside table. Once I moved across to the kindle, I actually took all my paperbacks to the charity shop in an effort to de-clutter my house. My kindle now has over 700 books on it and I am constantly downloading more books on a daily basis.

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A completely unrelated topic, but I have noticed that you do an incredible amount of fundraising for Cancer Research. Could you tell us why this cause is so important to you? Two years ago 2 friends, Pipa & Sara, were diagnosed with Breast Cancer. My best friend, Sara, wanted to do something positive and decided to enter into Race4Life to raise money for both girls. Loving a project and being quite good at organising I joined her and we

TBC recently celebrated its first birthday and a commemorative bash was held. What were the highlights of that evening? We held our first official birthday party in a pub near Trafalgar Square. We had just over 160 guests including 20 or so authors. My personal highlight of the evening was watching all the interaction between the readers and the authors, meeting some of these people for the first time despite chatting on the phone and email for over a year. It had such a wonderful and friendly buzz and vibe – authors, free books and booze – what more could you want on a Saturday night in London? I was also presented with the most incredible gifts and speech as a thank you from the members which


actually left me speechless (for about 3 minutes).

You spend so much time promoting authors you believe in, to great success. How far would you go to help the authors you love and why do you do it? (laughs) I’m not sure how “far” I would go… sell my left kidney? Believe it or not, I actually don’t do it for the authors. They just happen to benefit! I do it for the readers. When I read a book and it has made me think, cry, laugh or gasp I want everyone to know about it and everyone to read it. The fact that I have loved a book is incidental to whether I have met the author, or he or she is a member of TBC. I only rave about the books I love, I never rave about the authors!

I think that’s the recipe for your success! You are honest, genuine and there is no hidden agenda. In a world full of shameless author promotion, your voice is one that speaks to the reader. Now, my final question is one I think everyone is dying to know. Would you ever write a book? NO! As it is by invite only, you won’t find Tracy and her remarkable club on Facebook, but you can connect with her on Twitter @Tr4cyF3nt0n or send the group mascot Charlie Fenton a friend request on Facebook. Follow the hashtag #TBConFB for more information.

What authors have to say about Tracy:

“Tracy was one of my first interactions with a reader. Back then it was so peculiar, yet so exciting to speak to a total stranger who had felt compelled to get in touch as they had enjoyed reading my book. We’ve now been in touch for almost 18 months, so when you ask ‘what Tracy means to me’ my answer is simple: Tracy is a friend.” – John Marrs “The indefatigable Tracy Fenton whirled into my life like a dervish around a year ago. ‘I’m setting up a book club’ she said. ‘Aw, bless’ I thought, imagining a dozen or so bookish types. Within days she had signed up Q&A’s with every author I knew and had thousands of members. I realised then that she had a special kind of energy. Over the past year Tracy has become an ally and a friend and her support for my books has been a massive boost both personally and professionally. I just wish I could make her my agent – no one would ever dare say no to her!” – Tammy Cohen “Tracy pretends to be mean about me but it’s all in jest... I think! She’s incredibly quick-witted, irreverent and, most importantly, passionate about books. She deserves a medal for services to authors, including me.” – Mark Edwards “Tracy blew into my life like a tornado and I was an early addition to TBC, which has opened up my work to myriad new readers. Her boundless energy and enthusiasm is astonishing and she is truly a force of nature!” – Steven Dunne

Tracy’s Top Reads of

2015

A Man Called Ove – Fredrik Backman

The Girl in 6E – A R Torre

I Let You Go – Clare Mackintosh

Normal – Graeme Cameron

Shtum – Jem Lester

The Kind Worth Killing – Peter Swanson

Tuesday Falling – S Williams

We are All Made of Stars – Rowan Coleman

First One Missing – Tammy Cohen

Welcome to Wherever You Are – John Marrs

AUTHORS MAGAZINE | 19


US Teen Writer AT THE TOP OF HIS GAME! by Shalate Portia Davhana

read”, he adds.

Wattpad’s multiple award-winning teen author, Joe Horton, has just released his fourth book entitled Creature of Halloween. In just two weeks since it’s release, the novel has recorded over 425 000 reads and 68 000 votes. This action-packed horror is the not Horton’s first book. His debut novel, No Children ALLOWED, also published on Wattpad, has exceeded over 300 000 reads from horror enthusiasts around the globe. The seventeen-year-old junior high scholar from Louisville, Kentucky says that watching “horror stuff” has become a favourite hobby. “I literally have tons of Halloween stuff in my room”, he confesses. His favourite hangout spot is a bookstore. “I love to read books that are eye catching”, he adds. Writing comes naturally to Joe, but strangely, he believes that anyone can become an author. Joe is a brain cancer survivor. He was diagnosed with cancer thirteen years ago, when he was only four years old. He has brain tumours and neurofibromatosis. Joe says that writing horror stories gives him an emotional outlet. “They may not be the scariest (stories), but I write them for people like myself to

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It is not by coincidence that his inspiration comes from the renowned US horror fiction writer, Robert Lawrence (R.L) Stines. “His books give me the goose-bumps and chills”, Joe claims. Robert wrote “Goosebumps”, a popular series of horror fiction novels which was based around frightening scenarios faced by fictional children and has been adapted as a U.S. Television show on the Fox Network. Joe, a devoted ‘Wattpader’, says that the platform is phenomenal because it allows readers to interact directly with authors in real time. “They can comment on your stories with feedback “, he adds. Joe hints that his books may be available in bookstores in the near future, as he is looking for a publisher to produce hardcopies. Wattpad is a fast-growing e-publishing platform taking the world by storm. It currently hosts over 40 million users.

Snippet from the novel: Creature of Halloween “Max Stones and his friends break into an old and eerie house on Halloween, clueless to the legends of the house and what lurks in the house. Max’s little brother, Haven, tries to warn them but to no avail. No one believes in creatures or the monsters under your bed anymore; only children would believe that. As the night proceeds, the group of friends begin to wonder if Haven is right about Snacker, the creature of Halloween, who eats your flesh when midnight strikes. Do you dare to enter the house and be eaten to death? Do you fear the Snacker?”


International

Focus AUTHOR: Rachel Morgan

by Melissa Delport

Rachel Morgan is a South African author who spent a large portion of her childhood living in a fantasy land of her own making. After completing a degree in genetics and biochemistry at UKZN, she decided science wasn’t for her - after all, science doesn’t approve of made-up facts. These days she spends most of her time immersed in fantasy land once more, writing fiction for young adults and those young at heart. At the tender age of 29, Rachel has already achieved what most writers only dream of. Writing full-time since 2013, Rachel has released 8 novels, two of which have gone on to win awards. In 2014, The Faerie Guardian won the Readers’ Favorite Gold Medal award for YA Fantasy, and this year The Trouble with Flying landed Rachel as an InD’Tale RONE Award Finalist. Rachel grew up in Maidstone; a small town on the north coast of KZN, but she currently resides in the Mother City, along with her husband, Kyle, and her 3 mini-daschunds who, Rachel claims, are her writing companions, staving off the loneliness that often comes with the craft. The Creepy Hollow series, a YA fantasy series centred around faeries who guard the human realm from various dangerous magical creatures, has been incredibly wellreceived by YA fanatics across the globe. Rachel admits the name “Creepy Hollow” simply seeded itself in her creative mind one day (as so many random thoughts do!) and from there the plot developed. While it is the Creepy Hollow series that has truly launched Rachel into the spotlight, she has also enjoyed terrific success with her romance series. She admits that shifting between the two genres is a delicate balance and that she took a year off from writing fantasy to invest in the contemporary romance - a gamble that paid off. It is seldom that an author can write successfully across genres, but Rachel seems to have struck the perfect balance.

EXCERPT: The Faerie Guardian I lie there blinking as the reality of what just happened strikes me like a slap in the face. A human. In the fae realm. And I’m the one who brought him here. No no no NO. I give the boy a good kick and he lands on the ground beside me with a groan. “What did you do that for?” I yell, jumping to my feet. “You can’t follow me through! That’s not how this works.” He sits up and stares at his surroundings—the wildly tangled trees; the creeping mist; the shifting smoke-like colors in the yuro plants’ leaves—with a mixture of horror and awe on his face. “That … was …” “Probably the most idiotic thing you’ve ever done,” I say. I doubt he’s listening to me though. “I think you were right about the dreaming thing,” he says. “There’s no way this could be real. Am I high on something?” “Ugh.” I clench my fists so tightly I can feel my nails digging into my skin. “It’s magic, you moron.” He looks at me and frowns. “There’s no such thing as magic.” “Well, you probably think there’s no such thing as faeries either, and yet here I am.” And here he is. In my forest. My home. I kick a flurry of leaves into the air. Their colors shift rapidly in protest, cycling through an endless palette: lavender, magenta, burgundy, sienna. I bury my face in my hands. I have so failed this assignment. “No way,” he says, rustling the leaves as he stands. “You can’t be a faerie. You’re way too big.” I lower my hands. “Excuse me?” I’ve been called many things in my seventeen years, but ‘big’ has never been one of them. Quite the opposite, in fact. “Aren’t faeries supposed to be, like, really tiny? With wings and a wand and faerie dust?” “I’m not Tinker Bell!”

Rachel admits that she completely immerses herself in the worlds she creates, living her story as she breathes life into it. Fortunately, she has the amazing support of her family and friends, who understand her need to fulfil her dream.

AUTHORS MAGAZINE | 21


Quantity vs.

THE ULTIMAT

Without the Industrial Revolution, the Information Age would not exist. There probably would not have been technological advancements in regards to travel, entertainment, and communication, either. Henry Ford would not have perfected a production assembly, which made affordable vehicles a possibility. Consumerism would have been just another word attributed to hoarders of tea, tobacco, sugar, and spices. Therefore, it’s safe to say the world would have been an entirely different place had the Industrial Revolution not occurred. It’s also the reason we can debate on whether creating more of a lesser quality is better or worse than creating less of a higher quality. How does this apply to the book industry? Well, back in the day books were seen as a luxury because producing books was far more complicated, and they were often made by hand. Being a writer wasn’t particularly popular, because there wasn’t much money to be made in the industry. Things have changed, though. Books are available in collector’s editions, hardbacks, trade paperbacks, mass paperbacks, and eBooks. This makes reading a more accessible pastime for people from all walks of life. Writers sometimes make more money than their Regency Era counterparts, but it’s really a case of 0.001% writers profiting enough from their endeavours to turn writing

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into a full-time job. But, as the book market grows, it’s becoming apparent that the industry is evolving yet again. This evolutionary process brings into question the Quantity vs. Quality debate. Whether you’re an author, publisher, editor, or marketer, this question is bound to pop up at some point, so take some notes as we proceed. James Patterson is a household name; a brand in himself that makes millions of dollars for his publishers every year. With a staggering seventeen novels published in 2015 alone, it’s pretty obvious in what category Patterson falls. Of course, many of the novels published are co-written, because no human being can possibly produce seventeen

novels in a single year. That said, his name still appears on the cover and he gets a piece of the pie, which is one of the advantages of being a Quantity Writer. Yes, James Patterson is also the highest earning author of 2015 with an estimated $89 million, according to Forbes. This is $63 million greater than runner-up John Greene’s earnings for 2015, which is approximately $26 million. James Patterson is also famous enough to sport a fandom Elvis Presley would have envied. However, this money-making machine isn’t immune to the critique that follows the Quantity Writing approach. Many established


. Quality

TE INDUSTRY QUESTION

by Monique Snyman

authors frown upon Patterson’s formulaic writing for financial gain, though there’s only a few brave enough to publicise their thoughts on the matter. Take Stephen King for instance, who criticised Patterson, by saying: “he’s a terrible writer but he’s very successful”. This, however, is a clash between writing gods, who have teams of editors and marketers and lawyers at their disposal, not to mention armies of fans who are better left unprovoked. Quality Writing, on the other hand, varies from person to person. In the

academic community, one would say a Nobel Prize in Literature winner is probably the pinnacle of success. As far as author J.M. Coetzee is concerned, this might be true. The South African born author, who is also the recipient of the 2003 Nobel Prize in Literature, is not only able to produce quality works worthy of notable awards, but his books translate into mainstream markets pretty well. Can the same thing be said about all of the Nobel Prize in Literature award recipients? Some marketers and publishers wouldn’t be keen on answering that particular question, but it’s a hot topic behind closed doors. What about Bram Stoker Award authors? In the horror community these award winning books are the must-reads of the year, but let’s be honest, it’s been a while since a Bram Stoker Award winning book even made it to South African bookshops. Not to mention, mainstream readers couldn’t care less about industry awards, especially if the cover isn’t striking and the synopsis isn’t titillating. Quality Writing can thus be seen as a variable, and variables make some publishers itchy. Young Adult lovers will enjoy a John Greene book, and defend it to the death if someone criticises the work. Fantasy fans devour Brandon Sanderson’s novels. Then there’s the young adult fantasy enthusiasts who

can’t get enough of Sarah J. Maas. It’s all a matter of perspective when it comes to Quality Writing. You see, here’s a secret few authors are aware of: The book industry is a highstake poker game. It’s only when highearning Quantity Writers like James Patterson are signed that a publisher can take their chances on one or two Quality Writers nobody’s ever heard of, because high-earning Quantity Writers pay the bills. They’re tried and tested and have been found worthy, which frustrates every Quality Writer on the planet. Here’s a better question yet: Do you have to be one or the other? From a personal perspective, this Quantity vs. Quality debate shouldn’t even exist. There have been authors who have found a balance between Quantity Writing and Quality Writing. Sir Terry Pratchett, for example, wrote two to three books a year and sold millions upon millions of his novels, in an international market, and he often won awards for his work. So, technically speaking, Sir Terry Pratchett was able to find a balance without monopolising the market one way or the other. A few other notable examples include Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, and Rick Riordan. A balance is only possible if greed isn’t the end all of one’s existence. Money makes things easier, true, but is it worth selling your soul, or your artistic integrity, or pride, just for a bit of extra cash? Some might say it is, and that’s their prerogative, but writing should never be about fame or fortune. Writing is about telling a story the best way you can, and hoping your story can be part of one reader’s life, if only for a few hours.

AUTHORS MAGAZINE | 23


LIFENox

continued from page 13

according to

This would’ve been a problem because it was dark, cold and we were in the middle of nowhere. It was safer to sit at the back uncomfortably comfortable. Like that time she was getting her hair done, which was paid for by her married boyfriend.

Sunshine

I kept seeing him around my neighbourhood. And he kept asking for my number. One day, I leaned in, took his phone and gave him the 10 digit password to my availability.

It seems easier to be in toxic friendships and relationships than to be alone (except, of course, for those who remind us every day with every status update that they are single and happy… shame). Truth is, It’s not easy to get up from the table when love is no longer being served (thanks for the encouragement though Nina Simone).

He had forgotten my single syllable nickname so he decided to call me Sunshine because “when I (him) saw you (me) for the first time, it was as if the sun was shining through your (my) eyes”.

It’s also easier to close our eyes to our colleagues and classmates being oppressed and discriminated against. We might post about these injustices on social media but we hardly do much else. How many people have been hijacked, robbed or even killed while there were people who were aware but didn’t want to get involved because they were too busy protecting themselves?

The texts began. The calls. The date was set.

So, we nap in the warmth of our comfort zones because we might get left out in the dark cold if we say or do something against the status quo. 2. “If you think you can do better then drive”. I was tired and hated driving at night so I was okay with passively complaining about Neo’s driving. How many complain about their jobs instead of actually doing something about it (we see those Monday misery status updates). Or those of us who cry about our cellulite while dipping cookies in ice cream? We have so many excuses for why we aren’t doing what we are supposed to be doing. We love to hate procrastinating. Sometimes, it feels as if we are actively choosing to be passive so that we can blame something and someone else when things don’t work out the way we planned. Our complacency helps us keep very still with our eyes closed and passively hope for the best, even when we are speeding towards danger. PS. Neo, thanks for the lift

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I smiled. It was corny, but a great save. He was late. I got into his car and was informed that he needed to go greet his friends. I was so confused. I thought he needed something urgently. No. He just wanted to go greet his friends. I waited in the car outside on the streets of downtown Johannesburg. It was dark and dangerous. But I wasn’t as scared as I was annoyed. I was supposed to be sipping hot chocolate while waiting for my something delicious meal, not waiting for a grown man to finish high5ing his playmates. I texted Friend to vent and to send my location (because.. well, I was in Hillbrow) and realised that he still called me Sunshine because he didn’t know my name, not because he was sweet and cared about me. I sighed and really hoped the night would get better. But better meant me going back home, not staying with him. Yet, I couldn’t leave. I was held hostage by the promise of hot chocolate and my something delicious meal. Sadly, too many of us are hostages. Because someone promised us something that makes us think waiting in the dark is somehow worth it. It usually isn’t.


Performing Poet BREAKS THE SILENCE on her debut poety book by Shalate Portia Davhana

at a very early age which has had an impact on his life, yet he does not let that experience define him. He does not feel sorry for himself. His stage performance is breath-taking. He leaves me in tears every time”. Amongst many other responsibilities, Phuthi is an advocate for women’s empowerment. She runs a social movement for girls called Bloodline Young Women Development Programme in Bloodriver and neighbouring villages. “This area has a high rate of teenage pregnancy, substance abuse and gang violence. As an entrepreneur and owner of an Events Management company, I mentor young women about entrepreneurship, financial freedom and personal development”, she says. Prior to that, she has been a mentor at Dream Girls International movement. Phuthi believes that the annual 16 Days of Activism for No Violence on Women and Children campaign is still relevant but the result does not complement the effort. “The war is far from over. We are not empowering women enough for them to be able to leave abusive relationships. Secondly, successful women who are in such relationships keep their experiences behind closed doors to maintain their high reputation in society”, she elaborates.

Renowned poet and performer, Phuti Ramafefo, will soon be releasing her long awaited poetry book. Born in Bloodriver near Ga-Moletjie Village in Limpopo, the South African poetry writer and performer is expecting to launch her first hard copy in April 2016. The book will feature mixed genres, focusing on human experiences and addressing social ills, especially issues affecting women. Phuti became attracted to poetry at the age of 16, when she was tasked to perform a school poem at a function for a newly established school. “I was astonished at how the crowd reacted to my performance. They were clapping hands and ululating. The experience was awesome. Since then, I have never looked back”, she adds. She says that she draws her inspiration from some of the country’s finest poets, including Vonani Bila and David wa Maahlamela. She says: “David had an accident

As a former victim of emotional abuse, Phuthi feels strongly about the issue and she features some of her experiences in her work, which she says helped her to heal. “Poetry is an outlet for me. I feel absolutely free when I write. I don’t bottle-up anything, I write it out”, she confesses. She still admires Mutabaruka’s Dis Poem, which she heard for the first time playing in her friend’s car many years ago. “I recite it without flinching. In his poetry, the North African poet has hailed liberation heroes such as Nelson Mandela and Jomo Kenyatta. He also touches on socials ills and women’s struggles… issues that are very close to my heart”, she concludes.

AUTHORS MAGAZINE | 25


I will never forget the feeling of hearing that a publisher wanted to publish my novel. It felt like I had just expandedcontracted-exploded-imploded, as if I was flying and falling, as if I was screaming out loud yet whispering intently, too. I was shaking and I just couldn’t contain what I was feeling, nor adequately explain it all. That moment, when I read those words, is one of my most treasured memories. It was, and remains, a validation - that allimportant ‘Yes, what you’ve done here is good, works well, is entertaining, has promise, etc. You did not waste your time. What you went through to achieve this was not in vain.’ Fast-forward almost two years later and I learn that my publisher is closing down. The folk who helped me to achieve one of my dreams will be closing their doors, leaving not only me but every other author published by them without a home for their work. The world we had become a part of was closing its doors, locking us out. I thought I had prepared myself for it happening – after all, there were signs aplenty along the way. But when the news was officially released it hit me hard, probably because of a delayed reaction, of a sense of hope finally crumbling. I let myself descend into a deep depression, hearing the echoes of ‘You didn’t push your book enough’, ‘You didn’t write it well enough’, ‘We as the publisher no longer believe in your work’ spinning through my head.

Your publisher has

I fell so low that I stopped writing entirely. After all, if my novel was going to be out of print in a matter of months, and that

CLOSED DOWN

NOW WHAT? by Dave de Burgh

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novel was the first book in a trilogy, why continue? There was no way I could submit the second novel in the trilogy for publication before submitting the first,


after all. There are steps to follow – you don’t lie in your bed while trying to make it up. Please, folks, hear me now: don’t do what I did. Not only is it even more difficult to get going once you’ve allowed yourself to sink into that despair and self-flagellation, but you are also, in fact, harming your brand. You are a brand – your own brand. I went so far as to write up and publish a blog post about how I felt.

1

Don’t do that. Remember what I said about you, as the author, being a brand? Well, publishing that blog post harmed my brand because I was, in effect, telling the readers of that blog that I didn’t believe in or have faith in myself. Yes, I would shortly be without a publisher; my novel would be removed from the stores which had ordered it in, and would also disappear from Amazon and Exclusive Books’ website. It felt as if every wall around me had collapsed inward, smothering me, while the floor was busy caving in beneath me – but I chose to feel that way. In my mind, everything had ended. More than eight years of work had been, very suddenly, completely invalidated. Nothing of the sort had happened, of course. It was just the way I was reacting to the bad news. One of my friends sent me a message on Facebook and chewed me out – ‘put on your Big Boy pants’ she scolded me. We look at writers like Wilbur Smith, Danielle Steel, and the like and forget that they, too, struggled when they started out. Nothing runs according to plan – there will always be problems and speedbumps and headaches. I made the classic mistake of allowing a problem to become a PROBLEM. And my friend was right to take me on and slap me around a bit – just because my first novel would shortly be (for want of a better term) de-¬published, didn’t mean I had stopped being a writer. I thanked her, took it like a man, you could say, and two days later, two days later, I had a new publisher.

2 3 4

If your publisher closes their doors then begin looking for a new publisher. Don’t sit and stew and wonder how you’re going to get everything done from scratch again; rather, realise that you’ve been through the process, that you’ve learned important lessons, and that you’ve earned some wisdom. Draw up a list of prospective publishers and agents; begin exploring the option to self publish; ask for advice and accept that advice; keep yourself motivated, because you cannot expect anyone else to motivate you. You wrote that book – you have to do everything in your power to make sure that it finds a new home. Don’t repeat the same mistakes – or at the very least, don’t make the mistakes I made. Read your publishing contract carefully and seek legal advice. Make sure you understand all the terms and clauses; focus on publishers that are better suited to your brand and work – you have already enjoyed a couple of trips on this ride, so you should, by now, have a better idea of what you want from a publisher.

5

You’ve already built up a group (small or large) of people who have enjoyed your work – a group of fans. Yes, you’re hopefully writing for yourself and writing the tales you would like to read, but you’re also not doing it just because you can. You would like to get paid for your effort and talent, would like to someday, perhaps, make this thing your career. That means respecting the people who have supported you and continue to do so. If they want more of your work make sure you’re doing everything you can to give it to them.

6

Don’t engage in rush-jobs – take your time to make sure that you’re presenting your work and yourself in the best light possible. Manage your time so that you’re covering all your bases (including social media and, more importantly, your personal life; you must

maintain a balance, even if looking for a new publisher or working on different projects makes it seem as if the process takes longer than you feel it should) Before I give you my two last and probably most important pieces of advice, let me preface it with this: I was actively researching self-publishing when my new publisher found me. I had moved myself into the mind-space of “I’m not letting anyone else take my stories on because publishers ultimately disappoint.” Which I based on one occurrence. One.

7 8

Don’t jump to conclusions. Or, even better, don’t make emotional decisions. Whatever avenue you choose, make sure you’ve done your research and weighed the pros and cons, because you may just be making a decision which will map out the rest of your career. Make plans, but allow for surprises. Remember, your work has already been out there. It has already sold. Readers have tried what you’ve written, enjoyed it, and very probably want more. So, word may get around. My new publisher signed me after reading my book based on a recommendation from someone they trust. My new publisher wasn’t even accepting submissions for Fantasy! My work spoke for itself, as yours will. If you don’t believe in your work, no-one else will. Trust your instincts, trust the process, and trust those who know what they’re doing. I had been keeping an eye on what my new publisher was doing for more than a year and was impressed from the get-go – signing with them was an informed decision and one I’m very glad I made. So, if your publisher closes down, see it as an opportunity; see it as a challenge; see it as that next step you must take to move towards the career you want. Believe in your work and push it.

AUTHORS MAGAZINE | 27


by Cristy Zinn On the 7th of November, Book Dash held its first ever Durban event. I was lucky enough to participate, along with other writers, editors, designers and illustrators who were given 12 hours to make 10 picture-books. The event was a heady publishing experience, a day oozing so much creativity I was on a high. But what is Book Dash and why on earth was I so excited about it? I asked the Book Dash team a few questions in hopes that once you see what this amazing organisation does, you’ll be as excited about them as I am. Book Dash is run by: Michelle Matthews (Co-founder and Spot-Prize Luminary), Arthur Attwell (Co-founder and Tech Wizard), Tarryn-Anne Anderson (Cofounder and Facilitator Extraordinaire) and Julia Norrish (Operations Manager and Resident Newbie) What and who is Book Dash? AA: Book Dash gathers professional creatives – writers, illustrators, designers, editors – who volunteer to create high-quality children’s books that anyone can freely download, translate, print and distribute. Most of the work is done on a Book Dash day, when small teams work for over twelve straight hours, each producing a new book. Those days are the heart of Book Dash. Then, between Book Dash days, we help funders print and give away thousands of books to children. We have a tiny, mostly volunteer team coordinating everything: Julia Norrish,

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Michelle Matthews, Anderson and me.

Tarryn-Anne

You can keep up to date with all the Book Dash news and events by taking a look at our website: www.bookdash.org and subscribing to our newsletter. Where did the idea originate? AA: Book Dash is a careful mix of other people’s brilliant ideas. We’d all been working in book publishing for years, and were really frustrated by how hard it is to publish children’s books in South Africa viably, despite the immense and desperate need. I knew about projects that created children’s books by volunteers, like Pratham Books and the African Storybook Project, and about others that created books in one-off hackathons, like Book Sprints. So we called a bunch of our creative friends, and spent a day making children’s books together. And it turned out better than

we ever expected, and kind of addictive. What is your vision? AA: We believe every child should own a hundred books by the age of five. How many events have you done so far? And how many books have been made? AA: We’ve held five Book Dash days so far, which have produced 42 books. Of these, 29 are print-ready and available on bookdash.org. The rest, mostly from our most recent Book Dash in Durban, are being finalised. The finalising involves gathering a few last illustrations, high-end scanning, proofreading, and publishing admin like adding ISBNs and barcodes. Once the books reach our site, they are as professionally produced as anything you’ll find in a bookstore. How do you match writers, designers


and illustrators into awesome bookmaking teams? JN: The selection process is pretty rigorous. We send out a call for applications two months before the event and give a month or so for the word to spread and for creatives to apply. The application form is very short and simple, but requires a link to some form of portfolio or evidence of work. Once we have this, we shortlist applicants while keeping in mind that we require ten designers, ten illustrators and ten writers for each event as well as five editors, logistics wizards, a tech director, art director and a photographer/videographer. It’s a lot to ask from one city which is why we tend to stick to Cape Town, Johannesburg and now Durban. Once we have selected who we would like to participate, we begin to match teams together: one writer, illustrator and designer. We’ve already had a look at their portfolios so we have a pretty good “feel” for their work. We look at writing, illustration and design style far more than gender, age or race. AA: It’s a monumentally tough job to finish a book in a day, so it’s critical that every volunteer is experienced, and very good at what they do. It’s also very important that we have diversity in the room, so that we don’t all make the same kind of book. We need great talent in a range of languages, backgrounds, ages and genders. We find out as much as we can about every participant before we set the teams. Most of them have never met before, and it’s critical that every team has great chemistry. Often we just get really lucky! It’s really important that creatives puts lots of examples of their work online. If we can’t find someone’s work online, we won’t take a chance on them. Once or twice, we’ve risked including someone with a tiny portfolio, and then discovered at a Book Dash

that they are really incredibly talented. And I always think, “Hey, put more of your stuff online! People should know about you!” At Book Dash events you are condensing the months-long publishing process into 12 hours without skipping out any steps. How do you manage it? AA: There are dozens of tiny tricks we use to make this possible, and with every Book Dash we refine and improve them. For instance, writers and illustrators create story outlines and rough character sketches before the day; we use clear roles, rules, guidelines and templates, while still allowing space at the heart of each book for spontaneous creativity. We also care about every single minute: if you see our Book Dash Manual, you’ll see the timeline for the day is very specific. Even the food on the day is specially chosen to keep energy levels consistently high. Traditional publishing processes get dragged out by inefficient systems, incompatible workflows and software, competing interests, learning curves, financial admin, physical distance, and a lack of urgency and common purpose. Book Dash is designed specifically to avoid these gremlins, and I don’t think we could have done it if we hadn’t been witnessed them countless times before. What is your favourite part of the Book Dash event? MM: There’s a point, around midafternoon, when the story has been edited and at least four or five illustrations are done, when I can suddenly “see” the final book: That’s when I get really excited! It’s about the same time that teams hit their stride and team members really start to bond: I love seeing those friendships form. JN: For me, it’s seeing junior creatives getting to work alongside some of their heroes as equals. Everyone is really in Photography courtesy of MEL Media and Production AUTHORS MAGAZINE | 29


it together on the day and the lessexperienced participants really step up to the challenge. We don’t only create children’s books at Book Dash days, we inspire creatives. AA: The day is full of highs, but I always get trippy around 11am when illustrators’ first finished artwork starts appearing, and suddenly everyone is glancing around, thinking, “Holy moly, we’re making world-class books here, we really are!” As a team you have a fantastic way of keeping up morale, encouraging the teams and guiding us all through the process. Your enthusiasm is catching. Do you have any particular philosophy on how you approach volunteers? JN: Our approach? Lots of food, lots of empathy and lots of (friendly) pressure! We want Book Dash volunteers to have an awesome time, but also feel they’ve got something to show for it at the end of the day, so we have to balance the fun and the goals for the day. Book Dash is like the “Comrades of Creativity”: Lots of highs, perhaps a few lows, but a terrific sense of accomplishment at the end. You partner with some amazing organisations to make sure the books are utilized, translated, printed and distributed. Tell us a little bit about these other organisations. ASP: The African Storybook Project translate many of the stories created by Book Dashers and publish them on their website. We’ve had stories translated into all of the eleven official South African languages, but also into French, Kiswahili, Luganda, Lugbarati, Lunyole, Yoruba, Amharic, German, Ng’aturkana and Oluwanga – it’s pretty awesome. You can check out their website for more information at www. africanstorybook.org

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Masikhule: Masikhule works with about 1800 children across the Western Cape, mostly by supporting day-care centres and schools. When we have lots of books to give away, they coordinate a range of grassroots organisations who put the books into children’s hands. Shine: Shine runs literacy-development programmes through their Shine centres, chapters, parents-training and book-buddies initiatives. Shine use our books in different ways: for volunteer training, reading groups, parent training and also to give to the children they work with. You can find out more at www.shineliteracy.org.za Wordworks: Wordworks also help us get our books to children. They run programmes with parents, volunteer tutors and home visitors to help children learn to read and write successfully. We’re excited by how innovatively Wordworks are using our books. Not only do they use them in parent workshops, but they also give them to their home-visitors who take literacy to the most rural and unreachable parts of South Africa. Another initiative they run is to sell the books very cheaply to women who sell them at a small mark-up to other parents and teachers. This is an awesome way to spread literacy while encouraging female entrepreneurship. Nal’ibali: Nal’ibali is a national readingfor-enjoyment campaign. They are amazing and their website is full of resources that can be used to encourage literacy. Every week, in partnership with national and local newspapers, Nal’ibali publish a newspaper supplement that aims to make literacy fun and accessible. They have used six of our Book Dash stories for these supplements! All the supplements are bilingual, and Nal’ibali has arranged those translations, and contributed them back to us. This

is hugely helpful because paying a professional translator can be expensive. What creative pursuits do you do to keep yourself charged and ready to inspire others? JN: We’re all naturally creative people, but none of us work full-time in the creative world so Book Dash is a fantastic outlet for that energy. Tarryn designs, draws and writes sci-fi flavoured fantasy tales. She had a short story published on Feast, Fanmine and Potluck. Michelle runs entrepreneurship programmes, and is also an award-winning writer. I have a background in French and English Literature as well as Art History. I read too much, fulfil my (and everyone else’s) quota for going to live music gigs and doodle on my bedroom walls. AA: I think we all create art in our day jobs, but I define art pretty broadly, and would include systems design and using our ability to communicate powerfully to influencing others (with a view to creating a lovelier world). To me, Book Dash is a natural extension of that. I’ve run a small publishing-innovation company for ten years, and there I write and design and code and experiment. But I reckon the most creative thing I get to do is spend time with our threeyear-old son Aidan, especially when I’m reading to him. I don’t think Book Dash would exist if I hadn’t seen, firsthand and up close, how a child’s brain develops and how amazing it is to share books together. So there you have it – Book Dash in a nutshell. If a Book Dash event is happening in your area I would highly recommend you apply. They will be 12 hours well spent. In the meantime, support Book Dash any way you can.


CouchSonia Booth on the

The corner couch focuses on celebrities - their reading habits and the books that have shaped their lives.

with

by Dineo Mahloele

Sonia Booth is the author of How to Reinvent Yourself and Stay Relevant. This mother of two founded a sports trust with her husband, and doesn’t look a day older than the day I met her during her young modelling years. I caught up with her to find out what books are on her bedside table.

(laughs) I also have a number of books on my bedside table. As a mom, do you prescribe the type of books your children read and what motivates your choice of books for them? I subscribe to major bookstores online via the newsletters and we buy books for our boys based on reviews and recommendations.

I recall you and your husband, Matthew, speaking about a foundation that was going to equip libraries in previously disadvantaged communities. How is that going? What is your earliest memory of books?

We founded The Booth Education and Sports Trust in 2009, a non-profit public benefit organisation. We donate books to any organisation or community that is in need. Furthermore, we do football coaching clinics. You can see the fruits of our labour on our website www. theboothtrust.org

My aunt was an avid reader and her prized possession was a bookcase packed with Danielle Steele books. I think she had every title, all 42 of them! I must have been around 9 years old and I would read some of them. My uncle read newspapers daily and this is where my love for Wow, that’s amazing. I like to end off the article with the written word was unearthed. favourite reads. What are your 5 favourite books of

Do you have any reading habits, i.e. reading before all time? bedtime, early morning. etc? 1. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho I try to read before bedtime. I am a serial reader though, I have about 3 titles on my bedside table and I pick my read based on my mood. My ritual is to spend Sunday mornings reading newspapers.

2. Endings and Beginnings by Redi Thlabi 3. Long Walk To Freedom by Nelson Mandela 4. The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay 5. Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch

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I’M ABSOLUTELY ENTITLED TO

My Point of

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View! Or am I?

by Ian Tennent

If you want to start a bar-brawl between writers, bring up the subject of Point of View (POV) between drinks. Stand back and watch with glee as jargon wages bloody war with dogmatism. And, trust me, there’s plenty of brawn on either side of that divide.

Understandable when you have a plethora of terms such as: Deep Third Person; Multiple First Person; Third Person Limited; Third Person Omniscient; Limited Omniscient (huh?); Objective POV; Subjective POV; Dramatic POV; Subjective Omniscient; and the list goes on - all trading blows with the supreme counter-argument of, “But *insert famous author* does it like that.” Add to this different ‘tenses’ and different ‘aspects’ and it’s no exaggeration to say few areas trip up new (and experienced) writers the way POV does. Straight off the bat, the reader doesn’t give a hoot what name you give your POV, all they want to know is that you’re in control of proceedings. My advice is to pick a framework that works for you and stick with it. You can cook with grams and millilitres, or ounces and pounds. The point is that you cook a great meal, not which measurement you use. So what then is POV? POV, simply put, is the perspective of the ‘narrator’ that’s doing the story-telling. Note, I said ‘narrator’ and not ‘character’. This distinction is important: sometimes the

‘narrator’ is a character in the story and sometimes not. Now, purists may argue that POV is not quite the same as perspective since a story written in a particular POV can be shown through the eyes of say, Jack, Jill and Mary, each with their own unique perspective. However, this distinction, while technically accurate, is not particularly useful in a discussion of the pitfalls surrounding POV. In the immortal words of Lord Bacon, “The thoughts of the philosophers can be likened to the stars; they are lofty, but they shed very little light”.

scene be filmed in real time?” If it can’t, then you’re dealing with backstory and you might want to relook at the way you’ve written it, but that’s a topic for another day.

In my view, technicalities such as these only distract from the ultimate purpose of POV, which is simply to enhance the experience of your reader. I’ll say it again. As an author, your primary goal when wielding the POV of your choice is to enhance and not spoil your reader’s experience! You do this by exercising control.

At its most basic the salient features of this framework look like this:

A lot of writers, myself included, like to talk about POV in terms of camera angles. i.e. Is the camera mounted in the sky? Or on a single person’s head? Or are there multiple cameras? The benefit of this approach is that it encourages you to keep your writing immediate and visual. You simply ask yourself, “Can this

I subscribe to the following simple framework, consisting of 4 vantage points or types of POV. Bear in mind that all POV can be written in ‘past’ or ‘present’ tense. For example “I walk” and “I walked” are both instances of First Person POV. Furthermore, each POV has its own pros and cons.

First Person POV I turned off the light. Seconds later I heard a window smash. My blood ran cold. Here, the ‘camera’ is like a GoPro mounted on the main character’s forehead. The narrator is a character. The reader gets to see the video footage from this character’s perspective and, in this way, experience the story first hand. The flipside is that the reader can only observe what that character observes, can only experience that

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character’s thoughts, prejudices and wants. If that character stays in a dark room all day, so does the story. For as long as that character holds the camera, the reader is constrained or shackled to the experiences of that character. By implication the reader gets a biased view of events. First person POV allows the reader to become intimately acquainted with the main character. The reader can delve deep inside their head. This POV lends itself to emotionally charged stories. As a result Romance writers gravitate towards it. First Person POV also allows for maximum credibility with the reader. We find it easier to believe someone when they say, “I saw a ghost yesterday.” Rather than, “John says he saw a ghost yesterday.” We tend to be a bit more sceptical when the information gets to us second hand. On the down side, First Person POV gives up a bit of tension. The reader knows that the “I” character will never die. Who would tell the story if they did? In most instances of First Person POV the entire story is conveyed through the experiences of one character. The POV is thus limited to one character. However, while rare, some authors like to present their stories using the First Person POV of multiple characters. This is known as Multiple First Person POV. Let me quickly caveat this by saying that Multiple First Person POV only works if the author has the skill to make each viewpoint character’s ‘voice’ unequivocally distinct. If not, then the reader is liable to become muddled with which “I” character is speaking.

reader in the story by having them play the part of the main character. The camera is like a GoPro mounted on a selfie-stick, aimed at you, the reader. The narrator is not the character. Some invisible being is telling you what you are doing. Instead of seeing the story from your own eyes, you get to watch the video footage of yourself acting in the story. This POV is the domain of “Choose your own adventure” type books and is seldom used in mainstream fiction. It takes a lot of skill to pull off this POV successfully. Most of the time it simply sounds too contrived to engage your average reader. Third Person POV Jack turned off the light. Seconds later he heard a window smash. His blood ran cold.

You turn off the light. Seconds later you hear a window smash. Your blood runs cold.

Here, it’s as if Jack is being ‘filmed’ by a cameraman from a few feet away. Again, the narrator here is not the character. Some invisible being is describing events to us. This invisible cameraman follows Jack as he moves around, reporting events to us, the reader. We get to ‘see’ Jack and whatever action is taking place, at the same time, as well as experience Jack’s thoughts in relation to these events. As with First Person POV, where the POV sticks with one character throughout the entire story, it’s said to be Limited. However, there’s nothing stopping the author from having the cameraman move away from Jack and follow another character – in a scene where Jack is not present for example. In which case the author is using Multiple Third Person POV. This allows for more flexibility in the story-telling. In this way the author can keep the story moving even when Jack is stationary. For example while he’s trussed up in a basement.

Here, the author tries to include the

The salient point to remember is that,

Second Person POV

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as with the first person POV, the camera reportage is constrained to the experiences of the character it’s trying to capture. With Third Person POV there’s more ‘distance’ between the reader and the character than in the First Person POV. Some immediacy is lost. But it’s easier to maintain or build tension. The author can show a character fearfully hiding in a closet whilst gunmen ransack the house, for example. The angle of the camera lens is a little wider but the zoom is usually less than in the first person POV, simply because the camera tends to spend less time focussed on the thoughts of one individual. This POV is used most often in mainstream fiction today, maybe because it lends itself to a balancing of both action and emotion. Crime writers, in particular, tend to use this POV. It lends itself to drip-feeding the reader clues, as the characters stumble upon them. Omniscient POV Jack turned off the light. Seconds later he heard a window smash. His blood ran cold. Seven blocks away a black SUV exited an underground parking lot and turned down Broad Street. Omniscient means godlike or allknowing. Here the camera/narrator is exactly that. It’s like a drone in the sky with infinite cameras. It can go anywhere, see anything. It can see around corners, or through rock. It can go backwards or forwards in time, zoom in on lava bubbling inside a volcano when there isn’t a soul within a hundred miles. It knows exactly what every being on the planet is thinking, all of the time. Its power is limitless. In the above example, Jack couldn’t


possibly know about the SUV seven blocks away. No other character is witnessing its movements either, but the author needs the reader to see it for the sake of the story. This is the POV of your typical Box Office Movie. It’s the POV most often adopted by the beginner writer as it’s perceived to be the easiest to use. And why not? It’s like playing a game with no rules and no restraints. In reality it’s arguably the hardest to use. Simply because there are no rules and a game without rules quickly disintegrates into mayhem. There may not be rules with this POV but there are ‘best practices’ which writers would do well to take note of. Omniscient POV seems to work best when the narrator adopts a neutral voice with respect to each of the characters the camera focusses on. i.e. Each character is afforded the same level of “sympathy” by the narrator. That’s why this POV seems to suit modern day thrillers where the narrator reports events without worrying too much about the characters’ feelings. Stories written in this way are fast moving, and cover lots of ground. The characters, and there are usually many of them, are usually highly mobile and interact at a high frequency. The Omniscient narrator seldom dwells too long on any one character. However, current audiences, more than ever, seem to want character driven stories not plot driven stories and omniscient POV doesn’t cater very well for this simply because of the greater ‘distance’ between narrator and character in this POV. Furthermore, every time the narrator swings away from the character to report on outside events, the emotional connection between the character and the reader is broken and has to be forged anew. By contrast, within the confines of First Person and Third Person POV this risk is mitigated.

Now, within the context of the above POV discussion, modern authors are nothing if not adventurous. And these days many authors are experimenting with blending different Points of View in one story. We might find chapter one written in First Person POV and chapter two written in Third Person POV for example. Multiple POVs are also not as uncommon as they once were. But, as mentioned earlier, the key to whichever POV or combination thereof you choose to use, is control. Your average reader may not understand the intricacies of POV, indeed, when wielded skilfully, the reader is often completely oblivious to POV. But, in the hands of a hack, when control is lost, the reader quickly becomes frustrated. When control is lost, the reader is apt to ask, “Whose story is this?” or “Whose head am I inside now?” The reader steps out of the story, their experience marred. This brings me to the one of the primary areas where authors go wrong with POV, namely head-hopping. Head-hopping occurs when the POV shifts back and forth too quickly for the reader to comfortably follow. The camera flits to one character, then another, then back to the first, then onto a third, all within one scene, for example, and is especially highlighted where emotions are concerned. The prevailing wisdom out there is that you stick, as far as possible, to one POV per scene. And, as a general rule, if you do need to shift POV mid-scene, do it once, cue the reader properly and don’t shift the camera somewhere else until that scene has ended. While Head-hopping occurs most frequently within the ambit of Omniscient POV (especially where the narrator loses their neutrality) it can, and does, occur frequently in Third Person POV as well. The following example should demonstrate.

“When are we going?” asked David, feeling anxious. “Soon,” answered Jordan. She hated it when David got scared. Within minutes she heard a car pulling into the gravel driveway. The brisk thump of a car door closing, followed. Frank strode up the path to the front door and lifted the brass knocker, noting the scratch marks around the keyhole from the break-in attempt. He rapped twice, suddenly on edge. “He’s here!” said David, relief flooding through his veins as Jordan’s heartrate began to spike. Here the camera moves from David to Jordan to Frank to David and back to Jordan, in the space of a few sentences. Most readers find this unsettling. Who should they focus on next? Who should they be rooting for? In fairness, some readers don’t notice head-hopping, or at least they don’t mind it when it does happen. And some very successful Romance writers choose to write this way deliberately. They claim that, in a Romance story, the relationship is the main character, and head-hopping is necessary to bring the relationship to life. There may be some merit in this argument but my advice to writers remains centred around the element of Control. If your writing head-hops, and if this is a deliberate tactic on your part which you feel is necessary, then go forth and hop. If, however, on inspection you find yourself head-hopping, without meaning to, then I would suggest a rethink and tightening, or possibly even a changing, of your POV.

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TRAVEL

A small party of hikers draws to a halt beside the grave. An icy wind teases the rooigras and wild sage of this mountaintop eyrie. All around us are flat-topped koppies rising from valleys veined with seep lines. This is the final resting place of Olive Schreiner. In accordance with her wishes, Olive was buried here on Buffelskop, close to the farm Klein Gannahoek, 15 kilometres south of Cradock. As the ground was too rocky to dig a hole, the grave is a dome-shaped sarcophagus. It’s a hauntingly beautiful spot. To finally stand beside the grave of the founder of the South African novel marks the end of my quest.

Olive Schreiner lived in Cradock as a teenager, before becoming a governess on farms in the district. In 1875, she took a post with the Fouché family at Klein Gannahoek, where she began writing The Story of an African Farm. By 1880, the talented young writer had finished her manuscript and the following year set sail for England. The publication of her novel in 1883 was a great success and brought her into contact with London’s prominent intellectuals and writers.

structure. The book turns around the lives of three characters – Waldo, Lyndall and Em – first as children and then as adults. The setting is a lonely farm in the Karoo. Waldo is the son of the genial manager, Otto Farber; while Em is the stepdaughter of Tant Sannie, the ignorant and tyrannical owner of the farm. Lyndall is her orphaned niece and most closely resembles Olive, a headstrong girl who riles against the conservative environment in which she finds herself.

Schreiner’s work is a novel of unconventional ideas, controversial characters, feminist inclinations, an experimental style and a perplexing

In searching for the locations of the novel, I knew I had to start in Cradock. After a few e-mails and phone calls, my journey began to shape. I spent some

The story of a

South Africa

The arid landscape and lonely farms of the Cradock district in the Eastern Cape provided inspiration for Olive Schreiner’s seminal work. Justin Fox goes in search of the birthplace of the South African novel.

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days exploring the town and visiting the charming Olive Schreiner museum. Then I met up with Basil Mills of NELM (the National English Literary Museum). He runs tours that revolve around Eastern Cape literary figures. Basil is a larger-than-life character who looks as though he’s stepped straight from the pages of fiction. You could ask for no better guide, as he had been involved in restoring both the Schreiner House and sarcophagus, and was in charge of the archaeological dig at Klein Gannahoek. Our 4x4 followed a rough track up a slope to the ruins of a homestead. We got out of the vehicle and Basil led me around the site. ‘This is all that’s left

of Klein Gannahoek,’ he said. ‘These would have been ostrich pens, and this the wagon house. I spent ages clearing the foundations and wrote a paper on it for an archaeological journal.’ Basil took out a folder of photographs. One of them, taken in 1893, was captioned ‘The room in which The Story of an African Farm was written.’ It was a ‘sordid, primitive shelter’, noted one biographer, ‘with no ceiling, a leaking roof and a mud floor.’ When it rained hard, Olive would sit under an umbrella and make a furrow in the floor to lead the water out of the room. Basil picked up a sun-baked brick. ‘This flat-roofed wing was added to the northern end of the building,’ he said. ‘It was Olive’s

room.’ I sat on the ground where her desk might have stood. There had been a small window which offered an uninterrupted view up Van Heerdenskloof. I imagined her sitting staring out the window. She took up a pen and began to write: ‘The full African moon poured down its light from the blue sky into the wide, lonely plain…’ The vision of a young woman alone in that cold room at the foot of a great, brooding mountain, pen in hand, was strangely affecting. Her writerly spirit was palpably there, haunting that pile of bricks in a lonely corner of the Gannahoek Mountains.

an farm Olive Schreiner

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Reads recommended

Title: Career of Evil Author: Robert Galbraith Crime Thriller Description: When a mysterious package is delivered to Robin Ellacott, she is horrified to discover that it contains a woman’s severed leg. Her boss, private detective Cormoran Strike, is less surprised but no less alarmed. There are four people from his past who he thinks could be responsible--and Strike knows that any one of them is capable of sustained and unspeakable brutality. With the police focusing on the one suspect Strike is increasingly sure is not the perpetrator, he and Robin take matters into their own hands, and delve into the dark and twisted worlds of the other three men. But as more horrendous acts occur, time is running out for the two of them... Career of Evil is the third in the highly acclaimed series featuring private detective Cormoran Strike and his assistant Robin Ellacott. A fiendishly clever mystery with unexpected twists around every corner, it is also a gripping story of a man and a woman at a crossroads in their personal and professional lives.

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Title: Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard Author: Rick Riordan Children’s literature, fantasy Description: Magnus Chase has always been a troubled kid. Since his mother’s mysterious death, he’s lived alone on the streets of Boston, surviving by his wits, keeping one step ahead of the police and the truant officers. One day, he’s tracked down by an uncle he barely knows-a man his mother claimed was dangerous. Uncle Randolph tells him an impossible secret: Magnus is the son of a Norse god. The Viking myths are true. The gods of Asgard are preparing for war. Trolls, giants and worse monsters are stirring for doomsday. To prevent Ragnarok, Magnus must search the Nine Worlds for a weapon that has been lost for thousands of years. When an attack by fire giants forces him to choose between his own safety and the lives of hundreds of innocents, Magnus makes a fatal decision. Sometimes, the only way to start a new life is to die . . .


Title: Welcome to Night Vale Author: Joseph Fink, Jeffrey Cranor Science Fiction, Horror Title: See Me Author: Nicholas Sparks Contemporary Romance Description: Colin Hancock is giving his second chance his best shot. With a history of violence and bad decisions behind him and the threat of prison dogging his every step, he’s determined to walk a straight line. To Colin, that means applying himself single-mindedly toward his teaching degree and avoiding everything that proved destructive in his earlier life. Reminding himself daily of his hard-earned lessons, the last thing he is looking for is a serious relationship. Maria Sanchez, the hardworking daughter of Mexican immigrants, is the picture of conventional success. With a degree from Duke Law School and a job at a prestigious firm in Wilmington, she is a dark-haired beauty with a seemingly flawless professional track record. And yet Maria has a traumatic history of her own, one that compelled her to return to her hometown and left her questioning so much of what she once believed. A chance encounter on a rain-swept road will alter the course of both Colin and Maria’s lives, challenging deeply held assumptions about each other and ultimately, themselves. As love unexpectedly takes hold between them, they dare to envision what a future together could possibly look like . . . until menacing reminders of events in Maria’s past begin to surface. As a series of threatening incidents wreaks chaos in Maria’s life, Maria and Colin will be tested in increasingly terrifying ways. Will demons from their past destroy the tenuous relationship they’ve begun to build, or will their love protect them, even in the darkest hour? Rich in emotion and fueled with suspense, SEE ME reminds us that love is sometimes forged in the crises that threaten to shatter us . . . and that those who see us for who we truly are may not always be the ones easiest to recognize.

Description: From the creators of the wildly popular Welcome to Night Vale podcast comes an imaginative mystery of appearances and disappearances that is also a poignant look at the ways in which we all struggle to find ourselves...no matter where we live. “Hypnotic and darkly funny. . . . Belongs to a particular strain of American gothic that encompasses The Twilight Zone, Stephen King and Twin Peaks, with a bit of Tremors thrown in.”--The Guardian Located in a nameless desert somewhere in the great American Southwest, Night Vale is a small town where ghosts, angels, aliens, and government conspiracies are all commonplace parts of everyday life. It is here that the lives of two women, with two mysteries, will converge. Nineteen-year-old Night Vale pawn shop owner Jackie Fierro is given a paper marked “KING CITY” by a mysterious man in a tan jacket holding a deer skin suitcase. Everything about him and his paper unsettles her, especially the fact that she can’t seem to get the paper to leave her hand, and that no one who meets this man can remember anything about him. Jackie is determined to uncover the mystery of King City and the man in the tan jacket before she herself unravels. Night Vale PTA treasurer Diane Crayton’s son, Josh, is moody and also a shape shifter. And lately Diane’s started to see her son’s father everywhere she goes, looking the same as the day he left years earlier, when they were both teenagers. Josh, looking different every time Diane sees him, shows a stronger and stronger interest in his estranged father, leading to a disaster Diane can see coming, even as she is helpless to prevent it. Diane’s search to reconnect with her son and Jackie’s search for her former routine life collide as they find themselves coming back to two words: “KING CITY”. It is King City that holds the key to both of their mysteries, and their futures...if they can ever find it.

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ARTICLE

FROM INDIE TO PUBLISHED: Part 5

Self-Publishing experiences My

by Melissa Delport

HOW TO HANDLE YOUR FIRST BAD REVIEW It took almost a year before it finally happened to me. That moment every writer dreads: The First Bad Review. As writers, we have to accept that bad reviews are inevitable. No one book can appeal to everyone. Bad reviews are an occupational hazard, but the first time, it stings a little. I read my first bad review with my heart in my throat and a cold, sickening dread in the pit of my stomach. She didn’t like my book… how could she not like my book? *sob* I quickly typed up the following response: Dearest (Bad) Reviewer,

review, because while the book may have been bad, you are cheap.

Firstly, I must congratulate you on your extraordinary ability to

And cheap trumps bad, every time.

remain sour for extended periods of time. I am sure that this must

Do your research: Read the blurb before the book. Possibly a few

take some effort on your part, maintaining the delicate balance

other reviews, seeing as you are so quick to post your own. This will

between perpetual bitterness and scathing sarcasm, and for this,

tell you whether a book is sad, funny, suspenseful, etc. If forty-

you must be duly applauded.

seven reviewers have claimed that a particular book reduced them

There are a few points I feel I must mention in order that you “up

to a snotty, blubbering mess, then the chances are this book won’t

your game” and grow as a reviewer. (YES, dimwit, I AM reviewing your

have a happily ever after.

review…stings a little, doesn’t it?)

Sex: I’m terribly sorry that sex scenes bore you. Sadly, EL James’s

Spelling: If you, as a reviewer, cannot spell, then perhaps you

“anal-fisting” is a hard act to follow. After 50 Shades of Grey,

should not comment. It makes you look like an idiot. Authors use

sex will seem boring. While I am sure when you were hanging from

spell check – if you want to compete on an even playing field,

the chandeliers last night while your husband burnt himself

perhaps you should do the same.

with cigarettes and did unmentionable things to you that us mere

Criticising other reviewers: Starting your review with: “I can’t

mortals can only dream about – sadly, writing about sex is harder

believe how many 5 stars this book received because it is so

than doing it. As an exercise… have sex. Then write about it in

dreadful” is hypocrisy. If you feel that your review is honest and

intimate detail and let ten of your friends read it. I bet they won’t

your opinion matters, then it goes without saying that this rule

have the same earth-shattering orgasm you did.

applies to your positive counterparts. Do not judge them, and we

And finally, I am truly devastated that you will not be purchasing

will not judge you.

another of my books in future. I did so look forward to another

Abbreviations: Peppering your bad review with OMG’s and WTF’s does

review from you that would make me want to slit my wrists.

not make you clever or funny. It makes you stupid. If we can type out

Regards

100,000 words, surely you can manage three or four.

Author

Freebies: If you are too cheap to pay for books and insist on only EVER downloading freebies, then you should never leave a crappy

40 | AUTHORS MAGAZINE


It is important to note that while I was defending my honour and bashing furiously away at the keys, a message popped up from Goodreads saying: Ok, you got a bad review. Deep breath. It happens to every author eventually. Keep in mind that one negative review will not impact your book’s sales. In fact, studies have shown that negative reviews can actually help book sales, as they legitimize the positive reviews on your book’s page. We really, really (really!) don’t think you should comment on this review, even to thank the reviewer. If you think this review is against our Review Guidelines, please flag it to bring it to our attention. Keep in mind that if this is a review of the book, even one including factual errors, we generally will not remove it. For more on how to interact with readers, please see our Author Guidelines. If you still feel you must leave a comment, click “Accept and Continue” below to proceed (but again, we don’t recommend it). At this I realised that Goodreads is comprised of bona fide Ninja’s. They know. They know what you are going to do before you even do it. Well played, Goodreads, well played. I took a deep breath and deleted my open letter, but deep down I needed something. Something to make my heart hurt just a little bit less. So I went searching for 1-star reviews other (far more talented and famous) authors have endured. And I read a bunch. Here are some excerpts of my favourites (I have edited out the names of the books to protect the innocent) #1 Review on New York Times Bestselling Author Holy hell. Thankfully I took a day before writing this review otherwise I would be having a vitriolic rant about the questionable judgement of many readers on GR. I am a wee bit horrified by the taste level I’m coming across. But I digress. So what was wrong with TITLE? It would be easier to tell you what was right with it: nothing. Monotonous, repetitive, predictable, unoriginal, mindless, cliche…these are just a few of the words that come to mind. The writing is simply not good. It is monotonous and absolutely lacked a descriptive quality. When there were descriptions they were vague. And don’t get me started on how the author chose to treat sexual relations in the book. Every instance of sex was approached in a prudish manner which was just ridiculous. NAME’s biological clock was f%#king annoying…..

#2: Review on one of the greatest authors of our time: Wow, truly, truly awful! This is a book I really wish I had never read. Admittedly, it is clearly written to appeal to the fairer sex, but even taking that into account, it’s just really, really bad. The plot is flimsy, the characters are weak and 2-dimensional, the writing is trite and sophomoric. There are all of these thrown-in sex scenes that are just so out of place and ugly and tacky and gross. And then, the epilogue happened, and … wow! That truly was the coup de grace. What a waste of my time. I an honestly say, I hated this book. It’s the worst book I have read in a very long time. So, reminder for myself – never again read a book by this author. His writing is definitely not for me.

I admit that after laughing my head off, I had to look up the word “sophomoric” – it means pretentious or juvenile. Then there was the reviewer who added a book to the following shelves:

judges-you, dafuq-did-i-just-read, isit-just-me-goddammit, whiny-bitches, kill-it-with-fire, reviewed-2011, authors-i-want-to-stab, lust-at-firstsight, mary-sue, lit-for-the-chicks, romance-contemp, well-arent-youmister-popularity, facepalm, blamethe-darksiders I’ve got to say, I admire the creativity. Makes my shelves: “Read”, “To Read” & “Currently Reading” look pretty dull by comparison. Feeling slightly better, I decided maybe I should call off the P.I and scrap my meagre attempt at a voodoo doll. And then, I saw it. I heard an angel choir singing and the light of a thousand candles filled the room because my Bad Reviewer once gave James Patterson a 1 star review. She gave me 2 stars. At this point I cracked open the champagne. I mean, how many authors can say they’re better than James Patterson? My advice to dealing with bad reviews is to remember that you have accomplished what few people can: you have written a book. That is an amazing achievement. I would advise you to not read your own reviews, but I know that is impossible. Like a moth to a flame, we simply cannot help ourselves. You could always best your bad reviewer in a war of words, given that it is what you do, but to quote George Carlin: “Never argue with an idiot - they will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.” Put it out of your mind and focus on doing what you love. Do not take the rare bad review to heart. Of course, if all of your reviews are rubbish, throw your book in the bin. And write another. Originally published by Allaboutwritingcourses.com

Shelves: dropped-in-the-toilet, the-hate-it-burns, buddy-or-group-read, fat-kitty-

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