Editorial Letter

This book came out in 2011. That’s the last time I read this particular Harlequin line.

I’ve written a lot about editor letters on this blog on my publishing journey. I’ve experienced success, I’ve also had rejections. And have sometimes explained how in the writing world rejections have different meanings than in other industries. For instance, authors (and editors) like to talk about good or encouraging rejection letters. The kind of letter that instead of completely knocking the breath from your lungs, actually boost your confidence and take you one step closer to your goal.

What I haven’t thought to share was one of those Editor Letters so you can get an idea of how a rejection letter can make a positive impact instead of leaving devastation and dejection behind. Not that there aren’t those type of letters, or that some writers don’t experience those feelings, it does happen. I’ve been there. And I’m sure many authors have horror stories to tell of how they lost themselves in a tub of chocolate and caramel ice-cream…nope? Just me? Okay.

*laughs*                                                    

Anyway.

In a previous blog post I shared how I once got my submissions mixed up. Harlequin had an open submission period that guaranteed a quick response from their editorial teams. More than one line was running this Blitz opportunity to pitch. I had two manuscripts I was working on at the time, one I aimed for the Desire and another for the Presents line. I mixed things up at the submission portal and sent my Desire entry to Harlequin Romance…uh yeah.

You know how some people are a klutz and trip over their own feet? Well, I tend to do that sometimes mentally when I’m too excited about something or bone tired. And not in a ‘oh I put my phone in the fridge’ kind of way. More like, ‘crap I’ve been sending emails to my friend’s mother CCing her and she read all my ridiculous ramblings and inappropriate jokes’ kind of mental klutz. I swear on my mother’s love of Nollyhood movies, I am a levelheaded person. I am not uncoordinated in my thoughts, body or manner…but for some reason, like the stupid lisp I get once in a blue moon when I try to pronounce certain words, I make mistakes like this.

It’s ridiculous.

I admit to that.

It shouldn’t happen.

But I’m from the species Human, so it happens.

So, without further exposition here’s the editorial letter I received from the Harlequin Romance line.

Dear Ms. Saunders,
Thank you for submitting Breaking All Her Rules for our consideration. We have read your submission with interest: you have an enjoyable, confident, lively writing style, with engaging characters and a fun premise. However, we feel that the story is tonally off-promise for Harlequin Romance, and to revise the submission would be to take it away from the story you have here.
However, we do see promise in your voice and would recommend exploring the series guidelines and reading as many books from the Harlequin Romance series as possible to be able to deliver on our series promise. Two recent and good examples are His Cinderella Heiress by Marion Lennox and The Bridesmaid’s Baby Bump by Kandy Shepherd.
In the meantime, here are some suggestions for your next submission.
Emotional Conflict
Harlequin Romances are driven by internal conflicts and a strong, emotional connection between the hero and heroine from the start. Drawing on their emotional conflicts you can explore the development of the characters and show how they are inextricably tied together. There should be a strong emotional arc running through the story, with obstacles creating twists and turns in their romance. Perhaps you could try writing out a plan for your characters, and how they’re emotionally drawn together through the story?
Secondary Characters
Secondary characters are a great way to add richness and depth to your central romance but it’s important not to let them take over! The hero and heroine are at the core of series romance. The protagonists’ friends can provide context, but the emotional impact of the book should come entirely from your hero and heroine.

Aspirational stories
Don’t be afraid to glam it up! Romance stories are highly aspirational – while we want a heroine we can relate to, our hero should whisk her away to something escapist and exciting. The small-town setting you’ve written was once very much part of the Romance promise, but there’s now a much stronger focus on urban settings, with a Cinderella aspirational fantasy driving the story.

Sensuality
Harlequin stories have a wide range of sensuality levels between series, but it’s really important to tailor your story’s sensuality the series. Harlequin Romance has a ‘closed-door policy’ – everything explicit happens behind off-the-page. This equally applies to the hero’s thoughts – Harlequin Romances are focused on the emotional, not the physical.

Overall, it’s really important to target your work to a particular series. Try reading the books recommended above to understand what that series delivers to the reader; in Romance we are looking for heroines we can relate to, heroes we can fall in love with and an aspirational story, in which readers are whisked away into a better world! Stories should be pacey, have a feel-good factor and show a relationship experience that is primarily emotional, not physical.

We are sorry to disappoint you on this occasion. However, we really enjoyed reading your submission, and we encourage you to make another, focussing on the Romance series promise and the points above. We hope this feedback is helpful.
Thank you for your continuing interest in Harlequin Mills & Boon.
Yours sincerely,
Editorial

Now I’m going to post to you what the Harlequin Desire line’s submission guidelines is and you can contrast and compare, and read just exactly why my manuscript had missed the mark. (While I hang my head in shame for doing this to myself.)

Contemporary, sensual, conflict-driven romances that feature strong-but-vulnerable alpha heroes and dynamic heroines who want love—and more! Reads that are always powerful, passionate and provocative.          

Harlequin Desire Key Elements

  • Powerful, passionate and provocative contemporary romances set against a backdrop of wealth, privilege and glamour
  • Intense, dramatic storylines with a highly sensual, passionate feel
  • Classic romance hooks mixed with juicy, unique elements
  • High-stakes conflicts (emotional and/or external) drive the plot
  • Every story includes the sense of a bigger world—extended families, corporations, brotherhoods, best friends, partners, secret societies
  • Stories are primarily set in North America but can be set elsewhere; they should not feel exotic. The author’s voice sets the tone for each story
  • Sexual language is euphemistic and romantic, not explicit
  • The reader should feel swept away from the everyday
  • Characters should have believable, sympathetic motivations
  • An emotional payoff befitting a powerful, passionate and provocative read
  • No paranormal or romantic suspense stories; no sheikh or royalty stories at this time

Featured in Harlequin Desire:

A powerful and wealthy hero—an alpha male with a sense of entitlement, and sometimes arrogance. Beneath his alpha exterior, he displays vulnerability, and he is capable of being saved by the heroine. The Harlequin Desire hero often has fewer scenes from his point of view, but in many ways, he owns the story. Readers should want to fall in love with and rescue the Harlequin Desire hero themselves!

The Harlequin Desire heroine knows who she is and what she wants. She is complex and can be vulnerable herself. She is strong-willed and smart, though capable of making mistakes when it comes to matters of the heart. The heroine is equally as important as the hero, if not more so.

Harlequin Desire stories should take place against the dramatic backdrop of sweeping family saga. The hero and heroine are not isolated from outside influences, even in forced proximity stories. External factors impact the relationship. Their loyalties, goals and personal lives affect their emotions and influence the development of the romance.

Harlequin Desire is…

Revenge or Scandal or Dallas or House of Cards for their wealthy and glamorous settings, intense story arcs that sometimes span generations and highly dramatic, larger-than-life conflicts that characters address in a believable way.

Now you’re thinking, Inge how can you be positive about the rejection letter?

For one, since I aimed it at the wrong line getting rejected by them was a given and didn’t hit hard at all. The project wasn’t rejected because it wasn’t “good” but simply because it didn’t fit. There is a difference. And no need to feel upset about that. Also my small town setting was courtesy of being inspired by all the Maisey Yates books I was reading at the time. I should have read broader. I have also learned since then aspiring HQN authors should stick to the guidelines and not deviate, established authors like Maisey can. Hence, the encouragement from the editors to read the latest books from the line. Again, I can’t be upset over this; I should’ve done my homework.

Secondly, they loved my writing style and voice. Something that is not to be scoffed at. That’s how you hook an editor. They also loved the premise of the story. Which means I have interesting story ideas. I can roll with that. That’s a positive.

Lastly, and importantly, they ended with this, “…we really enjoyed reading your submission, and we encourage you to make another, [focusing] on the Romance series promise and the points above.” Editors don’t write this at the end of a letter if they don’t want you to take them up on it, if they didn’t want to encourage you to do what they recommended, come up with a new story and submit again. They aren’t in the business of being polite to spare your feelings. They have busy lives. Lots of reading to do, their authors to manage, the publishing industry to run…and if you think that a letter addressed to you ending with an encouraging sentence like that was given on a whim than sir/mam you’re underestimating how truly demanding their jobs are. Simply put, they don’t have time to stroke your ego.

I wish I could say I completed Breaking All Her Rules but I haven’t. I literally bummed myself out after that slip up and decided to throw myself into my current manuscript.

I honestly want to give myself the best chance to not do a mental klutz again so I’ve been holding off working on anything for Harlequin. I also want to study the line I want to write for more, do more research on the story ideas I have and just be relaxed about it.

In the meantime I’m polishing my current manuscript like crazy. I’ve spent so much time on it first chucking out my first draft and then rewriting the whole book, then I injured my foot, then the pandemic happened, and now I’m still in recovery but also editing. I want to give this project a fair chance…I want others to give it a fair chance, so I’ll keep polishing until I exhaust all my self-editing knowledge *smile*

And that’s it.

Now you’ve gotten a behind the scenes (BTS) on how a rejection letter can actually leave an author with feelings of hope rather than failure.

I’ve written a lot about editor letters on this blog on my publishing journey. I’ve experienced success, I’ve also had rejections. And have sometimes explained how in the writing world rejections have different meanings than in other industries. For instance, authors (and editors) like to talk about good or encouraging rejection letters. The kind of letter that instead of completely knocking the breath from your lungs, actually boost your confidence and take you one step closer to your goal.

What I haven’t thought to share was one of those Editor Letters so you can get an idea of how a rejection letter can make a positive impact instead of leaving devastation and dejection behind. Not that there aren’t those type of letters, or that some writers don’t experience those feelings, it does happen. I’ve been there. And I’m sure many authors have horror stories to tell of how they lost themselves in a tub of chocolate and caramel ice-cream…nope? Just me? Okay.

*laughs*                                                    

Anyway.

In a previous blog post I shared how I once got my submissions mixed up. Harlequin had an open submission period that guaranteed a quick response from their editorial teams. More than one line was running this Blitz opportunity to pitch. I had two manuscripts I was working on at the time, one I aimed for the Desire and another for the Presents line. I mixed things up at the submission portal and sent my Desire entry to Harlequin Romance…uh yeah.

You know how some people are a klutz and trip over their own feet? Well, I tend to do that sometimes mentally when I’m too excited about something or bone tired. And not in a ‘oh I put my phone in the fridge’ kind of way. More like, ‘crap I’ve been sending emails to my friend’s mother CCing her and she read all my ridiculous ramblings and inappropriate jokes’ kind of mental klutz. I swear on my mother’s love of Nollyhood movies, I am a levelheaded person. I am not uncoordinated in my thoughts, body or manner…but for some reason, like the stupid lisp I get once in a blue moon when I try to pronounce certain words, I make mistakes like this.

It’s ridiculous.

I admit to that.

It shouldn’t happen.

But I’m from the species Human, so it happens.

So, without further exposition here’s the editorial letter I received from the Harlequin Romance line.

Dear Ms. Saunders,
Thank you for submitting Breaking All Her Rules for our consideration. We have read your submission with interest: you have an enjoyable, confident, lively writing style, with engaging characters and a fun premise. However, we feel that the story is tonally off-promise for Harlequin Romance, and to revise the submission would be to take it away from the story you have here.
However, we do see promise in your voice and would recommend exploring the series guidelines and reading as many books from the Harlequin Romance series as possible to be able to deliver on our series promise. Two recent and good examples are His Cinderella Heiress by Marion Lennox and The Bridesmaid’s Baby Bump by Kandy Shepherd.
In the meantime, here are some suggestions for your next submission.
Emotional Conflict
Harlequin Romances are driven by internal conflicts and a strong, emotional connection between the hero and heroine from the start. Drawing on their emotional conflicts you can explore the development of the characters and show how they are inextricably tied together. There should be a strong emotional arc running through the story, with obstacles creating twists and turns in their romance. Perhaps you could try writing out a plan for your characters, and how they’re emotionally drawn together through the story?
Secondary Characters
Secondary characters are a great way to add richness and depth to your central romance but it’s important not to let them take over! The hero and heroine are at the core of series romance. The protagonists’ friends can provide context, but the emotional impact of the book should come entirely from your hero and heroine.

Aspirational stories
Don’t be afraid to glam it up! Romance stories are highly aspirational – while we want a heroine we can relate to, our hero should whisk her away to something escapist and exciting. The small-town setting you’ve written was once very much part of the Romance promise, but there’s now a much stronger focus on urban settings, with a Cinderella aspirational fantasy driving the story.

Sensuality
Harlequin stories have a wide range of sensuality levels between series, but it’s really important to tailor your story’s sensuality the series. Harlequin Romance has a ‘closed-door policy’ – everything explicit happens behind off-the-page. This equally applies to the hero’s thoughts – Harlequin Romances are focused on the emotional, not the physical.

Overall, it’s really important to target your work to a particular series. Try reading the books recommended above to understand what that series delivers to the reader; in Romance we are looking for heroines we can relate to, heroes we can fall in love with and an aspirational story, in which readers are whisked away into a better world! Stories should be pacey, have a feel-good factor and show a relationship experience that is primarily emotional, not physical.

We are sorry to disappoint you on this occasion. However, we really enjoyed reading your submission, and we encourage you to make another, focussing on the Romance series promise and the points above. We hope this feedback is helpful.
Thank you for your continuing interest in Harlequin Mills & Boon.
Yours sincerely,
Editorial

Now I’m going to post to you what the Harlequin Desire line’s submission guidelines is and you can contrast and compare, and read just exactly why my manuscript had missed the mark. (While I hang my head in shame for doing this to myself.)

Contemporary, sensual, conflict-driven romances that feature strong-but-vulnerable alpha heroes and dynamic heroines who want love—and more! Reads that are always powerful, passionate and provocative.          

Harlequin Desire Key Elements

  • Powerful, passionate and provocative contemporary romances set against a backdrop of wealth, privilege and glamour
  • Intense, dramatic storylines with a highly sensual, passionate feel
  • Classic romance hooks mixed with juicy, unique elements
  • High-stakes conflicts (emotional and/or external) drive the plot
  • Every story includes the sense of a bigger world—extended families, corporations, brotherhoods, best friends, partners, secret societies
  • Stories are primarily set in North America but can be set elsewhere; they should not feel exotic. The author’s voice sets the tone for each story
  • Sexual language is euphemistic and romantic, not explicit
  • The reader should feel swept away from the everyday
  • Characters should have believable, sympathetic motivations
  • An emotional payoff befitting a powerful, passionate and provocative read
  • No paranormal or romantic suspense stories; no sheikh or royalty stories at this time

Featured in Harlequin Desire:

A powerful and wealthy hero—an alpha male with a sense of entitlement, and sometimes arrogance. Beneath his alpha exterior, he displays vulnerability, and he is capable of being saved by the heroine. The Harlequin Desire hero often has fewer scenes from his point of view, but in many ways, he owns the story. Readers should want to fall in love with and rescue the Harlequin Desire hero themselves!

The Harlequin Desire heroine knows who she is and what she wants. She is complex and can be vulnerable herself. She is strong-willed and smart, though capable of making mistakes when it comes to matters of the heart. The heroine is equally as important as the hero, if not more so.

Harlequin Desire stories should take place against the dramatic backdrop of sweeping family saga. The hero and heroine are not isolated from outside influences, even in forced proximity stories. External factors impact the relationship. Their loyalties, goals and personal lives affect their emotions and influence the development of the romance.

Harlequin Desire is…

Revenge or Scandal or Dallas or House of Cards for their wealthy and glamorous settings, intense story arcs that sometimes span generations and highly dramatic, larger-than-life conflicts that characters address in a believable way.

Now you’re thinking, Inge how can you be positive about the rejection letter?

For one, since I aimed it at the wrong line getting rejected by them was a given and didn’t hit hard at all. The project wasn’t rejected because it wasn’t “good” but simply because it didn’t fit. There is a difference. And no need to feel upset about that. Also my small town setting was courtesy of being inspired by all the Maisey Yates books I was reading at the time. I should have read broader. I have also learned since then aspiring HQN authors should stick to the guidelines and not deviate, established authors like Maisey can. Hence, the encouragement from the editors to read the latest books from the line. Again, I can’t be upset over this; I should’ve done my homework.

Secondly, they loved my writing style and voice. Something that is not to be scoffed at. That’s how you hook an editor. They also loved the premise of the story. Which means I have interesting story ideas. I can roll with that. That’s a positive.

Lastly, and importantly, they ended with this, “…we really enjoyed reading your submission, and we encourage you to make another, [focusing] on the Romance series promise and the points above.” Editors don’t write this at the end of a letter if they don’t want you to take them up on it, if they didn’t want to encourage you to do what they recommended, come up with a new story and submit again. They aren’t in the business of being polite to spare your feelings. They have busy lives. Lots of reading to do, their authors to manage, the publishing industry to run…and if you think that a letter addressed to you ending with an encouraging sentence like that was given on a whim than sir/mam you’re underestimating how truly demanding their jobs are. Simply put, they don’t have time to stroke your ego.

I wish I could say I completed Breaking All Her Rules but I haven’t. I literally bummed myself out after that slip up and decided to throw myself into my current manuscript.

I honestly want to give myself the best chance to not do a mental klutz again so I’ve been holding off working on anything for Harlequin. I also want to study the line I want to write for more, do more research on the story ideas I have and just be relaxed about it.

In the meantime I’m polishing my current manuscript like crazy. I’ve spent so much time on it first chucking out my first draft and then rewriting the whole book, then I injured my foot, then the pandemic happened, and now I’m still in recovery but also editing. I want to give this project a fair chance…I want others to give it a fair chance, so I’ll keep polishing until I exhaust all my self-editing knowledge *smile*

And that’s it.

Now you’ve gotten a behind the scenes (BTS) on how a rejection letter can actually leave an author with feelings of hope rather than failure.

Defending My Music Choices

I’ve stopped defending my music choices a long time ago.

This is hilarious!

As a person of colour, growing up in a Coloured community, going to predominantly Coloured schools, my peers always judged my music. I quickly learned to make friends with those who didn’t live by placing people in boxes with capital letter labels on them.

I’ve gotten mostly critique as a teen and young adult for loving rock, boybands and Britney Spears. Because…you guessed, these were music white people listened to.

A friend at university literally said to me, not once, not twice but a total of a dozen times: you’re going to marry a white man because you like Backstreet Boys and think Britney Spears can sing.

That’s offensive. And let’s be honest, not so subtle racism.

It’s weird to me how I lived in the early 2000s, and had all these sometimes subtle and not so subtle racist things said, and not realised how crazy that was.

Because I know she never would’ve made those remarks if there were White people present. But since it was a Coloured and Black audience she knew she was “safe”. And yeah, I get that White people also do this. I’m not ignorant to that. Just having a moment again of realisation at how imbedded prejudices are in our society.

Anyway back to my, “prophetic” future, still non-existent white husband.  Honestly when I get married and the guy isn’t White, I’ll inbox her a pic with my tongue sticking out. And okay, I’ll also do it even if it is a white guy. Why? Because I don’t give a toot hoot what the heck anyone says or thinks.

If my music choices means I’m not a racist and open to any group of people, regardless of whether I grew up with and within their culture, than I don’t freaking care. Because it makes me a global citizen. Because I appreciate music done by artist across the globe and not just of those with my skin tone. Or even speak my language.

Why did they think being so narrow-minded was okay?

Oh you only listen to country music because that’s expected of a white person who live in a certain country, state, or ascribe to a certain type of culture of farm and ranch life, small town living, cowboys/girls & boots as a way of life etc.? Any other music is trash? Uh okay.

Oh a female artist can’t sing if they can’t belt out like Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston and Marriage Carey? Uh okay.

Rock is music you can’t make love to, that’s reserved for RnB? Uh okay George Michael. (Yes I love him too, but he said that in an interview.).

I can go on, but you get where I’m going.

Our bias in music a lot of the times stem from our bais against other cultures and races. In George’s case it’s most likely just that he’s never found a rock artist or band who put him in the *cough* mood.

I find it telling that I’m an author. Specifically a romance author. But an author nonetheless. That I sometimes crate a playlist to fit a certain scene or chapter as I’m working on it, to rap into certain emotions and experiences for my characters. I wonder what type of author I would’ve been if I only listened to one type of music. If I was the type of person who lived rigidly by a certain set to rules that’s supposed to govern me based on the colour of my skin. If I’d given in as a teen chucked out individuality and became one of the crowd. I don’t think I would be an author right now. I do believe creative generally go against the grain on what’s considered “normal” in our world’s.

For instance, I’m a born-again Christian who writes contemporary and paranormal romance novels.

Yeah that’s a mouthful and very unorthodox.

But it’s who I am and what I do.

And I don’t feel the need to defend it at all.

Do I get funny looks from the intellectuals and academics? Yes. Do church folk cock their heads to the side and then ask if I’ll write Christian books? Yes. Do certain family members just overall not understand the heck out of me choosing writing over the traditional teaching profession I’ve has? Yes.

Did I want to explain myself in the past? Yes. Do I still want to do that? No.

Because it would be like defending my music choices all over again. I’m a bird of paradise in a world of grey and brown. If that comes off as a bit insulting it wasn’t meant as such but just the truth of being a creative. We’ll always operate in the realm of abundance of colour, culture and a patchwork blanket of life. It’s as simple as that.

Right now my playlist consists of LANY, LAUV, Julia Michaels, Alessia Cara, BTS, Troyes Sivan, Master G and Hillsong. The world consists of so many definitions of beauty to appreciate to box yourself in.

Hey that’s just my opinion. If you like listening to one category of music then do you. You certainly don’t need my approval to do it, but don’t judge others for being diverse. Don’t forget your school mate to bend to you will. Or try to pressure them by thinking making an offensive race remark will get them to be so embarrassed by themselves that they give in. The only thing it’ll do is make you part of the subject of a blog post years later 😉

So that’s my spiel. My two cents.

World Building

One of the big things about writing a paranormal novel is world building, in my case specifically an alternate world.

You’re operating in a fictional world that doesn’t exist. That could be from planets, hidden “worlds” within the existing world e.g. faeries, werewolves, etc. other-world societies that rule the human world, stories set on earth but with events that aren’t normal for our world, e.g. time travel.

It’s so broad and frankly only limited to how far your imagination stretches.

Before the pandemic hit, I got a rejection on my paranormal novel with a “if you want to, you can revise and submit in six months”. The editor had taken the time to actually write a detailed letter on what I needed to focus on. Also any future projects I should feel free to submit.

So, not what we writers would call a bad rejection.

One of the things the editor pointed out was world building.

And funnily enough when I read his comment and suggestion, I immediately understood what he meant. I had written a novella. It was under 40K and full disclosure; the novella hadn’t initially been aimed at this specific publisher. I had rewritten my paranormal story and I knew it wouldn’t be a good fit for my current publisher’s series line I had aimed it for. And erroneously thought I could with some tweaks submit it to this other publisher. Alas that didn’t work.

And I’m glad.

Because right now as I’m polishing the novel and getting it ready for re-submission I feel good about the story.

Anyway, back to world building.

So that’s what I focused on first. What were the things that might not have grounded the characters in the world or made the world believable or even made it impossible for the reader to imagine as they read the story?

In my quest to correct this I did what every self-respecting writer would do. I researched. And this was what I learned.

  1. Create rules and parameters of my world: types of people and werewolves, their physical characteristics, their powers (and how those powers work), customs (how the characters mate, how they survive, how they deal with criminals, etc.), technology, weaponry, and many other details that fit with the action and romance of my story.
  2. Be consistent throughout my story. Every rule I have established should be followed. If I deviate from that for any reason, then I should have a very plausible basis for it.
  3. Make events a natural outgrowth of my characters’ motivations and actions, or those of my societies. You can write almost anything if you motivate it properly, and the reader will go right along with you.
  4. Every aspect of my story contributes to world building. What the characters believe about the world. How it makes them act and react. How they think about and treat each other. How they compare to the norm of their situation.
  5. The dialogue, the clothes, their attitude and reaction in every situation, how others react to them, the obstacles they encounter, who respects or disrespects who, etc. contributes to the reader’s understanding of the world.                      

Now a lot of these aspects I already had in the story, but needed to expand on. And couldn’t do it in an under 40K novella. So I wrote more story. I built a bigger world than I had before. Definitely with more details to ground the characters.

I know in the future I will, when working on a project like this one, come back to these points and make sure I hit all of them as organically as possible.

The List

It’s no secret I love to read and every once in awhile I would share some of those reads here.

Since last year, especially at the beginning of the pandemic, I’ve been on a mission to read books I have wanted to get into for a while but for some reason or other haven’t been able. Or books that simply got my interest and wasn’t strictly in the romance genre.

So without dragging on, here’s my list of reads that kept me, and in some cases are still keeping me, entertained.

The List 2020/21:

  1. The first stands out because there’s a special history that I have with the company that not only published the series but also produced the movie. And that’s Fathom Five. I came very close to selling a New Adult paranormal novel to them, but alas it wasn’t meant to be. I am referring to their very famous I Am Number Four series, written by Pittacus Lore (not the author’s real name). This action packed series had me and my Mom on the edge of our seats! We couldn’t get enough and was so glad there were so many books. We finished them in record time. I understand why the movie wasn’t as successful as the book series; it focused too much on aspects in the story that made a movie like Twilight so big and not the things made the book shine. And let’s be honest. Movie studios were trying to piggyback off the vampire/werewolf movie’s success, hence so many Young Adult films being released during that time. Some like the Hunger Games more successful than others. Though seriously, if you love sci-fi, actions, some teen angst and heroics with a super evil villain and the world in peril than this book series is for you.
  2. This second series took me by surprise because I didn’t expect to love it so much. One reviewer described the first book as “Lush, dangerous, a dark jewel of a book”. Holly Black delivered all of that in The Cruel Prince and set me on a book reading path I have yet to recover from. This fantasy series…Oh. My. Word. I devoured it in three days. Ate. It. Up. It was gone. Consumed. Digested. While the world was going on around me I was in Faerieland. I was with The Folk of the Air. The books are written so beautifully and well. The intrigue, suspense…moments of drama that would have your heart pounding. I don’t want to write more because I’m so excited about these books and am afraid I’ll give some of the plot away. If you love fantasy, strong female characters than this series is for you.
  3. Trevor Noah’s Born A Crime. Now I know what you’re thinking. How is it possible that I’ve only recently read Trevor’s book since I’m such a super fan. (In my head he’s Adam to my Eve since we were born a day apart. But that’s neither here nor there.) I am from South Africa so I do know a lot about Trevor’s background. Early on in his career he incorporated a lot of it into his stand-up routines, which is why I put off reading his book for so long. I shouldn’t have. There were so many things I didn’t know, was shocked by and laughed so long and hard, tears were rolling from my eyes. Damn just thinking about one of his stories as I write this is making me laugh again. His book reads like a movie. No wonder it is going to be made into one. If you’ve put off reading this book, don’t. Get on it now. It is way more and better and inspiring than you could have ever thought it could be.
  4.  To All the Boys I loved Before by Jenny Han. There’s a movie made about it. If you didn’t know. It’s out there. I watched it first and then read the book. And stop right there if you think I’m going to write what you think I’m going to write. The movie was enjoyable. It motivated me to read the books. Now let me just take a moment to say, the movie was very kind to the main character’s sister. Made her all innocent. She’s so irritating and annoying beyond belief. Like seriously. I so dislike her. But overall, the books are entertaining. I wouldn’t have Jenny Han on this list if they weren’t.
  5. The BRIDGETONS! With capital letters and an exclamation mark. I’ve been reading Julia Quinn for years but haven’t finished the Bridgetons for some reason. I got my Mom to read the series with me and watch the first season of the Netflix series. Ha. Nope we did not watch at the same time. No one needs to be watching The Duke in all his glory with their mother. Just no. At least for me. And I also have a confession to make; I haven’t finished the last book…because I don’t want to. I don’t want the Bridgertons to end. So yeah. I am nursing that book until the final season on Netflix and then I’m reading the book and saying goodbye. Yes, I’m weird. It’s been established. It’s nothing new. We been knew. Anyway, Julia Quinn knows how to deliver. I’ve read some of her other books and have enjoyed all of them. Even the Smythe-Smiths that you get introduced to in the Bridgertons books and TV show, are hilarious and entertaining and definitely spicy. If you love books set in this time period you should give this author ago.
  6. I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak is one of those books that I like to dive into every once in awhile. You think you know what’s coming but then the story throws a curveball. It’s so clever, it’s so funny. In parts heartbreaking and heartwarming. It can be unconventional, but not in a sleazy or over the top way. The story is very well-written and keeps you turning the page.
  7. The Hating Game by Sally Thorne is a Rom-Com. And that has to be mentioned since for the last couple of years I haven’t been into Rom-Coms as much. The whole quirky “hot mess” who is either struggling or a pack horse at work, was becoming old for me. Also the over-exaggeration of everything. And yes, I can be dramatic myself. But goodness, can the reader have at least a page where the heroine is not taking a thousand words just to convey one (not as funny as they think) thought?  Now this book, isn’t that.*laughs* It really isn’t. This isn’t Bridget Jones. This is Lucy Hutton and she’s relatable. This is Joshua Templeman and he is petty as all get out. And the book is funny. But doesn’t try too hard at it or try to beat a laugh out of you. I enjoyed it between my fantasy, paranormal and action packed novels. It was simply, lovely.
  8. I completed Brenda Jackson’s Westmorelands…well the main original family of Westmorelands because they branch out and there are a lot of them. But yeah, I now have a good understanding of how it all started and why the series is so popular. I love it and am still reading through the rest. I feel like I’m part of the family. Like the Westmorelands actually exist. Wait. What if in some alternate universe they do? Like the Westmoreland-verse. Oh. My. Word. Mind blown.
  9. Pippa Grant has kept me entertained for a while now. There were a few books of hers I had skipped over in favor of others, but I finally got to them. The Hero and the Hacktivist, Mister MacHottie,and Stud in the Stacks. You can’t go wrong with a Pippa novel. If you want funny. Actual snort laugh, cooldrink coming out of your nose funny, than she’s the type of romance author for you. Her heroines aren’t all self-deprecating either. As I’ve mentioned before, after awhile the whole insecure heroine thing becomes annoying. But, I have to add, if you can make a character with flaws that are able to laugh at themselves, accept themselves and really teach the reader something about being strong…than have at it. Give me that goofy off-centre heroine. I’m here for it.
  10. The last but not the least by any stretch of the imagination is Emma Doherty’s All That’s Left. It’s the first book in the Carlington Twin’s Duet. It’s a Young Adult series and I loved every minute of it. It was such an easy read even with the tough subject matter. The heroine is likeable, relatable, justifiably angry and a straight-shooter. She’s complex and complicated. And she can get things wrong majorly, but when she gets them right…she shines. I would re-read these books. That’s the highest compliment I can give any author.

And those are it. There were definitely more but I decided to stick with just ten. Though I feel like I should have a few honorable mentions….

Okay here they are: Michele Obama’s Becoming, Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone, Anna Todd’s After the After and Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl.

I Grew Up With Racists

Now, now calm down. Yes you at the back getting ready to throw virtual rotten tomatoes. Put it down and let me explain.

Now this a is story all about how I grew up in the late 80s early 90’s in Apartheid and post-Apartheid South Africa.

See if I made that the title you wouldn’t be here right now because it would be a boring title, though entirely accurate for what I’m going to be writing about.

We currently find ourselves in an era where we plainly don’t tolerate racial hate.

You don’t.

I don’t.

The Internet certainly doesn’t.

Hence all the secret groups on social media (where a certain young adult author *cough cough* was exposed). Because in this day and age we are simply just tired of having to explain why hating someone for the way they are born and have no control over, is stupid.

Now back to my childhood *smile*

I was born in 1984 in the biggest small town in South Africa (okay I don’t know how true that is, it says so on Wikipedia, so *shrug*). I remember boycotts starting in my neighbourhood that ended in High Street in front of the town hall.

I remember when Nelson Mandela was freed, because the teachers at my school was ecstatic and we got to go home early. That made me love Nelson Mandela even more when I was a kid. Because school. What kid wouldn’t be stoked to be let out of school early?

But the most significant thing, to me anyway, about the time, was for the first time I engaged with kids from another race.

In grade 8 there were two Black kids in my class, a boy and a girl.

Now some of you are thinking, Inge we’ve seen your profile picture, aren’t you black too?

Ugh no.

See, Apartheid did this disgusting thing where it had the Groups Area Act, where White people got to live in great neighbourhoods, get access to all the resources and education and opportunities they wanted, and then everyone else followed behind downwards on a tier that honestly, placed Black people at the bottom of the food chain and people of colour (Coloured and Indian) just one step higher. Almost the same as what people in America would call the “house slaves” as opposed to the ones working in the fields. I make this comparison so my foreign readers might have some understanding of the type and level of discrimination the different groups experienced.

Indian South Africans have a history of being brought to the country as slaves to work in the fields too. While Coloured people are a mixed race people, placed in the Coloured category because they weren’t completely White or Black.

Any person of colour, in SA, during Apartheid wasn’t treated fairly and forced through the laws of the time, to live as secondary citizens.

They had separate neighbourhoods, hospitals, police stations, churches, schools, etc. So I grew up from an early age having never had any interaction with White or Black people. My first interaction was in high school in grade 8. With two Black classmates. This was in the mid-90’s.

Why am I giving you a very short and glossed over history lesson? Because what I’m going to say next will make so many of my people uncomfortable and probably mad too. But will enlighten you after the history “lesson” *smile*

And when I say “my people”, I mean my family.

I grew up in a racist family.

A family created by the Apartheid system and its propaganda/bias that fed the different groups a whole lot of crap about each other. Stereotypes with a dash of “lesser than” attitudes, with a heavy dose of racial hate and fear of the “other”.

I grew up with a grandmother that used the K-word as a nickname for one of my cousins. Now in the community I lived in as a child this wasn’t strange because you would find that two streets down on some corner house there would also live someone with the K-word nickname. Also if you were very fair/pale, as in it was obvious your mother worked for a White boss and had kids with said White boss, whilst this White boss was married to a White wife with White kids, you would be “gifted” with either the nickname “Whitey” or “Boere” (farmer). These types of nicknames wasn’t viewed as odd or offensive. At least it didn’t seem like that to me since no one around me objected to it. My grandmother even called my other cousin, who was light skinned, “Boesman” (“Bush man”, so was the Khoisan named by the British settlers during the colonisation of the Cape).

Now you would think this would have ended after 1994, right? Nope.

I went to school with a guy who was nicknamed “Boere”. He was Prince Harry-fair with red hair. Again I have no clue if he minded or not, since he responded to the nickname regardless of who called him.

Now this might not come across as a problem to some because the racial monikers was used within the Coloured community, but that wouldn’t be the whole truth.

My first experience of racial hate came, again courtesy of my grandmother as she, while watching the news commented that she was tired of seeing the Black people on every channel. And yes, she used the K-word. Of course she would follow it up with saying she loved Nelson Mandela. As if that would make her racism somehow okay. I actually told my varsity friends about this and they just shrugged and excused her because she was a grandma and over seventy at the time.

But here’s the thing, it wasn’t just my grandmother. It was some of her kids and grandchildren. It was her friendship groups and church. It was the neighbourhood she lived in. The town. The province. Because let’s face it, South Africa is a racist country filled with racist people who after 1994 is trying hard every single day of their lives to move on and away from their racial pasts, but for some reason every time some politician decides their political career’s going to tank, they stir up racial hate and issues. And since we are such a young democracy, that’s very easy to do.

Here’s an example of how racist South African society still is, and inadvance, I just want to say I love my family and extended family, they are good people. But the only way, I feel, I can bring this point of growing up with racists home, is through comparison.

My sister got married 9(?) years ago. She attended a multi-cultural church, had a diverse friend group and one of her best friends was Black. The same as her husband. His best man at their wedding was Black. I was my sister’s maid of honour and that good friend of hers, made a very heartwarming and funny speech about the just married couple.

Because I knew this would cause a bit of a stir with my extended family, I supertitiously watched their reactions. The polite blank expressions was such a dead giveaway that it tickled my funny bone.

But they were not the only other races at the wedding. My mother’s Afrikaner church friends was in attendance as well as some of the couple’s other close white and black friends. My sister also invited her employers from the Black owned law firm she worked at, at the time. And the pastor who married them was White from the church she attended as a student in the Free State.

Even though the Coloured families on both sides outnumbered these groups, it is still significant because in South Africa, multi-cultural weddings is not the norm. Is it happening more than it did in the past? Yes. Though definitely still significantly less than homogeneous weddings.

It was a great wedding because it signalled the type of future I would like to see more of in SA.

Now contrast this with a wedding I attended a few years later. It was really lovely. The setting romantic. The bride looked beautiful and the groom handsome. The parents got emotional as they watched their kids say their vows. And yes, the groom also shed a couple of tears. It was a heartfelt, gorgeous wedding and experienced so by all around.

What stood out to me however was the lack of diversity in the guests.

As I sat through the vows, then the canapés, then the fotos and finally the reception it hit me what was causing an itch at the back of my mind. I was attending an event with only one racial category present and I haven’t done that in years. Seriously. I haven’t. It was kind of shocking to me when I realised what was, if I’m honest, making the experience a bit….mediocre.

You already know which cousins were going to “takeover” the dance floor, who was going to argue with his/her partner, whose kids were going to be brats, and that the MC’s going to…*cough* either do or say some embarrassing stuff that wouldn’t be as endearing as he/she might think. Aka Miss South Korea who felt compelled to inform over a hundred people she didn’t know just how important she was for having worked overseas in South Korea. Seriously, almost every single time she had the microphone she took the opportunity to remind us. My one cousin who had worked on a cruise-ship as a doctor at one point of his life, after the third time she dropped the SK-bomb couldn’t help rolling his eyes. His side commentary in my ear throughout her not-so-humble bragging had me fighting the urge to LOL at times I shouldn’t.

Like I said, it was a gorgeous wedding. Everything was beautiful. I am still happy for the couple. And for the amount of time I was there, I did enjoy the day.

The glaringly obvious contrast between these two weddings was this: one was inclusive and the other wasn’t. One fit into the notion of a new South Africa. And the other didn’t. While both celebrated love and new beginnings, they chose to do so in front of the audience they felt most comfortable with.

And that’s South Africa.

That’s what we brought over from Apartheid.

That’s what many of us grew up with and our children will grow up with and their children will grow up with, if we don’t stop the cycle of being “uncomfortable” with other races.

We work with each other during the week, but we tend to live in areas that mostly represent us. We are forced to share public spaces, but still find ourselves on a Sunday at our religious meetings with mostly people that represent what we look like and are comfortable with.

It’s funny to me that White people in my hometown would pay ridiculous amounts of money on rent each month so they could stay in an area in town they barely can afford because they don’t want to live in the areas that matches their income, simply because those low income areas consists mostly of Black and Coloured people. They would live three to four families in a house or on a property. I’ve seen this.

A black student posted on his Facebook a while back that Coloured people have racial issues.

And he was right.

They do.

Though it’s not an exclusive thing for only Coloureds in South Africa. I’ve watched many Black traditional weddings on reality TV shows that showed the same lack of diversity the second wedding I mentioned had.

But for this post, I am talking about Coloured people specifically because I am Coloured and that’s where the bulk of my racial experience and racial identity lies.

I have an aunt who boycotted as a student at the University of the Western Cape against Apartheid, but still drops the K-word. I have family members who belligerently, after I confronted them on their use of racial slurs, used them as a way of provoking me into an argument. I have family members who would try to come across to me as not racist tell me quite randomly that they have a black friend or friends, while at the same time make fun of someone’s looks by giving them a Black name because they didn’t equate Black features as beautiful. It’s of course no mystery as to why as a child and then teenager I felt the need to blow dry my hair straight because that was the more acceptable hair type for my family. 

It seems also odd that someone like me, who grew up amongst racists during and after Apartheid wouldn’t believe everything spoon fed to me.

And I honestly couldn’t take all the credit for that. Firstly, I had a mother who never spoke negatively about other races. She befriended all her colleagues’ Black and White. Second, she also didn’t discourage us from making and having friends of other races, or even religions. Third, in high school and later at varsity, I had a diverse group of friends I could talk about racial issues with. And just have fun with too because we had so many things in common.

Honestly, trust me, there are more things uniting us than dividing us and the racists knows this. Hence the reason why they brainwash their kids from an early age.

Many communities in SA still believe the prejudice and bias stereotypes about each other. And from what I’ve read in some Facebook groups these last couple of months, the pandemic and political climate of the country, seemed to fan these attitudes not just into flames but roaring fires. I literally had to exist a Facebook group that was supposed to be about a company that specialised in uplifting the Coloured people, teach them about their rich heritage, etc. But they would rather share negative and sometimes racially bias posts about other groups in SA. The casual racial slurs and hate was mind boggling since the group was a public one. For some reason the people there seemed to think how they conducted themselves wasn’t being viewed and judged by thousands, if not millions. I decided to leave when it became clear that the founder of the group didn’t care. And at times even fanned the hate themselves.

Racism isn’t okay just because you’re doing it amongst “your people”. It isn’t okay when it forms the basis for why you think a certain party shouldn’t be governing a country. It shouldn’t be the basis for why you think a certain group of women and men are the beauty standard. It shouldn’t influence you when you have to give someone a home loan, a job or promotion. There shouldn’t be groups on social media where you feel comfortable to share your personal racist views that you know could get you fired or lose business, if anyone else saw them. Here I’m 100% on board with Selena Gomez and other celebrities appealing to the Mark Zuckerbergs of the world to not tolerate this nonsense on their networks.

I grew up with racists. I chose not to be one.

In my HondBed class at the University of Stellenbosch I had other post-grad Coloured students look at me funny because I befriended the Black students in class. Especially at the beginning of the year when everyone was still feeling each other out. I spoke to everyone and engaged with as many people that were open and not closed to other races. By the middle of the year, many of the prejudices were gone and we were all just students studying hard and trying to impress our professors and pass at the end of the year. Our shared experience of the Honours classes eventually bonded us until we wrote exams and graduated. But it took a while for some to look past their initial bias.

Though it’s funny how when we are stripped of our preconceived notions, and embrace our shared human experience, how easy it becomes to share and learn from each other.

The Act of Being Timid

If there’s one box I’ve never ticked off it’s the “timid” box.

I’ve been labeled as quiet, shy, loud, confident, quirky, fun, easy-go-lucky, my-bratty-kid-sister, spoiled, generous, kind, lovely, intimidating, domineering, hardworking, spit-fire, ice-queen, straightshooter and adorable. Those are just the ones that’s been said to my face. I have no clue about any others and for anyone out there getting ready to try and place me in a box of your choosing, please refrain and keep it as your beez wax. I don’t need to know, whether flattering or not.

I have never been confused for timid. Not even as a fearful 5 year old in grade 1 going to school for the first few weeks and later on having this girl a couple of grades ahead of me bullying me because I was small for my age. I couldn’t physically take her and I didn’t talk back. But the dirty looks I gave her and my “never back down” attitude made it hard for her to get satisfaction in trying to push me around. Might I add here for the record, she didn’t earn herself any friends by being a donkey towards me, in fact, as soon as she would start, there would be a bunch of kids telling her to lay off. Especially this boy a year ahead of me whose name I never learned and who walked with me to the corner of my street and then backtracked to his house in the afternoons when my cousins was nowhere to be found. In that time, I also learned to use my voice. Once I did the bully backed off completely.

Age 5 and I already learned some valuabe lessons 1) Never give bullies what they want 2) “Fight” for yourself, regardless of who supports you and 3) Speak up. You’ll never be true to yourself until you know how to use your voice.

I carried the lessons into adulthood. I’ve overcome a lot via self-development. You know, that thing where you make mistakes and overcome them. Recognize insecurities and work to not have them rule your life. Embrace flaws, imperfections on whatever level. You know, doing life as a human. You don’t need me to explain this to you. And I’m still at age 37 learning.

Now, what inspired this title…this topic.

What’s now a few years ago, but actually feels like yesterday, I recieved a Facebook inbox from someone I considered a work friend. And I should add an online work friend. We’ve known each other for a few years, didn’t chat everyday and obviously didn’t see each other. But we were friendly.

At least I thought so.

So, by the time of the African Online Book Fair this incident happened. Mind you, I had started to grow suspicious of this person a month prior to the event, but wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt. I mean, such a “nice” person wouldn’t drop you literally a week before the event, after you’ve done free promo for them, had their name linked to it as a prominent organizer when in fact you were the one handling the bulk of the work. Bceause it was your idea and you didn’t want to burden them with a heavy workload since they had their regular job and kids to take care of. Btw this is typical single person behaviour. Always taking on more work than thier married counterparts, because you know, the general public don’t believe single people actually do lead very busy, stress filled lives.

I freaked internally. Outwardly, I was the professional I’ve learned to be as a working adult who have dealt with a crisis before. I also realized it was crunch time and anyone who knows me know, I don’t fumble the ball when it comes to the finish line. (Okay I just mixed my sports references, just bear with me.) People were relying on me. Fellow authors. Readers. It was not the time to play possum. It was not the time to mentally lose it. It was not the time to not hold people accountable.

So I didn’t. I held them accountable.

And then a few days later was told I am not “soft” like them, I am a “very hard” person.

Me doing what I was obligated to do, what I had voluntarily signed up for, and this person also voluntarily signed up for I might as add, was a hard person because I wanted to get the job done. And do so successfully.

I had to literally call in back-up from someone the last minute because I knew I couldn’t rely on this person…ever.

When this Facebook inbox insult was sent I was like, “yep, I’m done here.”

Because here’s what happened. This person tried to bail out on their duties and I had to compormise and get them to do half of the work they committed to. Then they had the audacity to send an inbox complaining about how unrelaible some people in their lives were and just a general pity party. I had to restrain myself from yell-typing, hypocrite. The self-awarness on this one was sorely lacking.

MInd you, this person is known as being “timid”. If you heard their speaking voice you’d be like, “what in the 5 year old is that?” They have that manufactored “baby-voice” geared to make you think they can’t hurt a fly much less a human. So “soft” spoken.

And hey, for once in my life I was taken in my a “soft” spoken person. Over the years I’ve dropped some of my cynical bent and embraced peace, hope and love. Nothing wrong with that. Though it does give wolves in sheep clothing a chance to dupe you.

I cut off all comunication witout any explination. I became a ghost to this person. I’m sure they don’t care. I haven’t recieved any form of reach out from them at all. Not a “hey haven’t heard from you in a while” type of thing or a “how you doing?” misguided email. Misguided because I wouldn’t have replied. lol Maybe they are more self-aware than their last inbox communication indicated…?

Either way, I realized quickly how some people skate by in life on an act of timid. When in fact they are sly foxes. They really thought they’ll have me do all the work, promote the hell out of their books, link them to the event as someone important and then in the final hour or should I say weekend, drop out for a last minute half-sibling’s (whose mother they didn’t like) birthday party. Ha. Honestly, after all these years I still can’t believe the arrogance. The unprofessionalism.

What I would like to say in closing is this: behaviour like this doesn’t pay off. Pretending to be someone you’re not. That mask always slips off. And when people see you for who you really are Dorian Grey, all they see will is ugly.

Update: Snippet from Work in Progress


For a tense second she swore the air stood still around them. Then he was on her, but not on her. Her perplexed mind couldn’t register soon enough that his mouth was a pant away from hers though it felt like he caressed her. The only place he did touch was her neck, yet it seemed as if his hands were everywhere heating her up from the inside out. Ghost sensations made her skin pebble. She inhaled deeply. There he was. His musky tone, mixed with an herbal aroma teasing her nose. The scent that made him all Raze, all man, it engulfed her in a sensuous fog.

“I’m going to kiss you.”

His warning meant nothing to her. Instead of backing away she stood on her toes. He groaned a fatalistic edge to the sound.


Not mine, found on the inter-webs.

I’m still hard at work on this paranormal romance of mine and honestly, I’m in such a good place with it. I feel like it’s a story I want to share with the world. It will definitely have all the heat elements of The Wolf’s Choice, though probably score higher on the drama and action scale.

The Wolf’s True Mate has kept me on my toes. Made me ask hard questions about my writing process and also the type of stories I want to tell.

I have other WIPs I’ve roughly outlined and plan on diving into right after this one. I’ve sit with it for a long time and know once I’m done I’ll be able to let go of the manuscript and not come back to it as obsessively as I’ve done.

The above snippet from The Wolf’s True Mate stood out to me as I went through the first couple of chapters while I was revising. I don’t know why, but it just drew me into the hero and herione’s story.

Cara and Raze have given me uphill, but I love them for it.

#happywriting

#authorwritingjourney

#amediting #amwriting

Get to Know Me Tag #Author

I’ve never done anything like this on my blog and thought I’d share a bit of insight about myself for any one who’s interested (no one is, but let’s pretend you are *wink*). So here’s to you learning more about me, the author/blogger/random posting person that is me *smile*

Get to know me tag:

Share a profile picture of yourself.

Inge Saunders

Who are you named after?

One of my aunts (on my mother’s side) was really into the German language at one point in her life and loved the names ‘Inge’ and ‘Ulrike’, and she insisted on giving them to me. At that point she didn’t have children yet. So my full name is Inge Ulrike Saunders, courtesy of my aunt. Thanks. A lot. I love this for me. German names with an English surname. Yay colonialism. *laughs

Do you like your handwriting?

Nope. My handwriting has never been the best, and since I’ve become used to typing everything, it has become worse over the years. When I used to be a teacher and had to write on the white board the kids would always complain…so yeah. Not good. Not something anyone would want me to do. Definitely not a superpower.

What’s your favorite lunch meat?

That would be chicken, preferably with crisp salad and lashings of mayonnaise.

Longest relationship.

*pauses* Uh…do I have to make a statement here…uh…*starts nervous laughing*

Do you still have your tonsils?

Yep.

Would you bungee jump?

No. Hard no.

Do you untie your shoes when you take them off?

If I have shoes with laces on, yes.

Favorite ice-cream?

Ooh, so many so little time. Ha. Though if I was required to eat one flavour for the rest of my days I’d say I could tolerate vanilla without getting bored of it.

What’s the first thing you notice about people?

I do believe the eyes are the windows to the soul, so I notice the eyes first.

Football or baseball?

Football? As in soccer? Or American’s version of rugby? Ha, I can do this all day. Either way I’m not into these two sports. A sport I would prefer above them is tennis *smiles*

What color pants are you wearing?

Pink shorts.

Last thing you ate?

Had Curry Roti for lunch. So YUM.

If you were a crayon what color would you be?

Sky blue.

Favorite smell?

Fresh citrus scents. They instantly wake me up.

Who was the last person you spoke to on the phone?

A building contracter.

Hair color?

Born with light brown hair that became dark brown as I became older, and I used to dye it chocolate brown with highlights, but I now have gone full on black. So hair color is black. For now.

Eye color?

Brown, or in romance writer’s world, chestnut brown.

Favorite food to eat?

I could live off South African braai food for the rest of my life *laughs* That’s barbeque for the rest of the world *wink*

Scary movies or happy endings?

I’m grew up loving both. Getting the pants scared off me and melting at chick flick endings…eeek! Also Bruce Willis. And sci-fi movies.

Last movie you watched?

Captian Marvel.

Favorite holiday?

Christmas!

Beer or wine?

Neither. Bubbly. Irish Coffee. Non-alcoholic cocktails.

Night owl or early bird?

Night owl.

Favorite day of the week?

Wednesday.

Three or (four) favorite authors you want to learn more about?

Carole Mortimer. I follow her on Twitter and think we’re friends on Facebook.
Penny Reid. Love her intelligent, funny as heck, romances. Brenda Jackson. I’m so late to this wonderful author.

And that’s me in a nutshell! Hope that answers some of your burning questions (that you never had about me lols).

Oh and here’s my nephew and his favourite hero..btw don’t tell him I know Spiderman is named Spiderman and not Spiderboots. I like messing with him *laughs*

Authors Behaving Badly: Two sides of a Story…

Recently one of my Facebook pals posted a series of status updates that offended one of their friends. At the time when I saw the posts, I found nothing wrong with them. I did think my pal had done it for the joke-factor more than anything else. But one of their friends didn’t find it funny; in fact they’d gone so far as to unfriend them.

I’d also commented on the post at the time and saw their response to the update under mine, no less! *smiles* And I ‘liked’ theirs, even though it contradicted mine. Why, you might ask. Because they were right.  

I was wrong. And they were right. I acknowledged that by ‘liking’ the comment. But I didn’t comment further on it.

I went on with my life and then much later in the evening, I opened up my Facebook again and saw an apology update from my friend. It seemed sincere to me, so I ‘liked’ what they’d done. I thought it showed maturity and respect for others. Also the willingness to admit, look I might’ve made a mistake here.

Then I read the comments under the apology status…and well I pulled a face and rolled my eyes at the ‘why should you apologize it’s your profile’ stank of entitlement. It displayed the typical behavior now found on social media, where people treat their profiles (owned not by them) as if it were their personal property where they could spew, post, attach, etc. anything and think no one would notice or care about what they did.

In real life, you know the real world where we have to get out from behind our laptops and get blown away by blizzards and scorched by the sun, and taste fuel on our tongues, you know that life; people do point out when you’re doing something offensive or insulting. So why believe that on social media this wouldn’t apply?

In fact, in real life we’re probably less likely to do or say something offensive. Or if we do say something, our friends and family who know us well, would know that we didn’t mean to offend. But look, I’m in South Africa, you’re in… (Insert your country)…we do not know each other personally. More to the point, we add people on social media constantly, so I might only be aware of you for a couple of weeks and know you like to post pictures of cats. That’s all.

So the first mistake most people seem to make is to assume that they can do and say whatever they want. You can’t. Life doesn’t work that way. Ask Hitler.

I silently applauded my friend’s response and privately (not online) dumped on the rest.

There are always two sides to a story, and in this case I read both. I acknowledged my own wrongfulness from the other person’s point of view. Just because what I found as funny didn’t translate as a joke in theirs, didn’t make them wrong and me right. It meant we interpret the world differently.

And someone who doesn’t realize this about humanity comes across as immature.

And here’s another thing, as authors we are public figures. Some of us are just more well-known than others, but it doesn’t exempt us. We need to pay attention when someone points out online behavior they don’t like, and then evaluate their critique. Discuss it with someone if you need to. Then respond appropriately.

I love how this friend didn’t dismiss the person and also apologized to others who might not have been brave enough to step forward and say, ‘look that’s not cool’, especially if it’s someone, like this person, who seems to have a big enough following on Facebook to cause serious upheaval.

 I applaud both of them. The one for acknowledging the other’s worldview and the other for pointing out a point of view others in their position might not have had courage to shine a light on.

March Writing Tip 3

If writing was easy, everyone would be able to do it. Ghostwriters would be out of jobs.

There would be no reason/purpose for writing tips/advice.

And no matter how seasoned you are as a writer, you will get stumped on what words to use or in this week’s writing tip, overusing certain words.

In edits writers take care of this. But it’s good to keep these kinds of charts as a reminder of where to start once we get to editing.