Do You Journal?

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One of the early signs that I’d end up writing professionally was the fact that I kept journals from a young age. At first I liked the romanticism of it all, then I’d like that I could write secrets in codes inside and then it became part of my psyche as a reflective human being.

The act of writing down my thoughts, not just events but how I felt about them, how I internalized actions and behavior, became the first stirrings of writerly observations.

In my teenage years I would switch from writing poetry, stories and weekly entries into my journal. At varsity as life became busier, taken up by studies, societies and friends, writing took a bit of a back seat. I mostly focused on poetry and keeping a journal. Then in my final year of undergrad when I received a new computer, I started to write stories again.

I’ve heard that writers should keep a journal. I don’t know if I fully agree with it or not. I’m undecided *smile* As someone who did/do still journal (though not as much as I have in the past) I can say that it does create a certain level of awareness. Reflection like this can sort out the cobwebs.

These days I like to keep journals and notebooks that centre more on developing book ideas. I keep my reflections for my poetry *smile*

In that sense, keeping a journal does serve a tangible purpose. You can go back to it and look at an outline, a mind map or character sketch you scribbled down. You can plot out a story in a few sentences. I once rewrote a synopsis in a journal because I needed a different form of writing. I couldn’t look at the synopsis on my laptop screen any more. Fixing it that way became problematic after a certain point, so I grabbed a pen and one of my journals. I could easily see where I hit a snag. Sometimes a different medium offers solutions.

Journaling definitely got me here…on this blog *smile* It wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t felt comfortable writing my thoughts down. So there’s that. Oh and did I mention I wrote for my school newspaper? *ha* What I’m getting to is this, keeping a journal can create confidence in expressing thoughts and ideas. That’s a plus for any author. For any type of writer.

So if you haven’t kept a journal before, and you’re serious about writing, why not try it for a month, see where it takes you. If it improves your way of writing, or not, come tell me about it *smile*

 

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My Recent Book List

avatar97305_7I read a lot. No, seriously, I do. It’s not the most exciting confession especially from an author. We are after all required to read a lot. Though what makes this confession so special *smile* here is that I’m going to share some books I’ve read recently.

I generally read broadly within the romance genre, but there are two categories I simply can’t help but to return to time and time again. They are paranormal and regency/historical. A close second are science fiction and contemporary. I also have to confess that when I write contemporary I read a completely different category and the same goes for paranormal. I don’t want someone else’s ideas clogging up my creativity, though I’m not reinventing the wheel, I still don’t want someone else’s writing to influence mine to such an extent that I copy ideas. Not cool.

Anyway, back to my book list!

 

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I know I’ve written a review about this book, but I loved the story so much that I went and bought a copy of Landra Graf’s Bona Fide Beauty. I felt like I owed this author because she wrote such an entertaining story and characters. I can’t wait for the next book in the series. Plus, I like supporting authors! *wink*

I also got my hands on a Brenda Jackson novel. I haven’t read a lot of her books, and this one was an interesting choice because she wrote it for one of Harlequins special lines that they create for a limited time. I wanted to see what Mrs. Jackson could do outside of her “comfort zone” so to speak. And I have to be honest; I found the Harlequin brand of editing heavily in this story. It didn’t resonate as much as what I was used to expecting from Mrs. Jackson. But it was still an entertaining read and definitely in Harlequin’s wheelhouse, so check out Strictly Confidential Attraction.

Alissa Woods, Wildling Pack Wolves Book 1 & Book 2: Wild Game & Wild Love. Both books are roughly 150 pages and immediately after I read the first one I wanted to get my greedy little hands on the second one. Hence both books landing in the same paragraph *laughs* If you love shape-shifters, especially werewolves, than these scrumptious novels are for you. Yes scrumptious because the heroes are utterly delicious and you just want there to be more story about them. The heroines are realistic. And by that I mean they are relatable. They are savvy and smart. They have their weaknesses and flaws (and with book 1 I literally jumped out of my chair because the heroine just made me so mad! *ha* which is also why I love her by the way). I love books that get under my skin sometimes, but also leave me deeply satisfied after I’ve read them. I’ve definitely gotten into this series. There are six books, and I’m very happy about that.

Stephanie Rowe isn’t new to my social feeds. I think I mentioned her on here as well. I’m working my way through her catalogue and like Alissa Woods; her Order of the Blade series packs a punch. It’s right up there when it comes to paranormal action and romance. It has a raw viciousness about it that makes the subject matter real. I’ve gone through Darkness Possessed and Inferno of Darkness.

Up next is the historical romance, Unmasking Miss Appleby by Emily Larkin from her A Baleful Godmother series. Let me tell you, these faerie godmothers are not the conventional kind you grow up watching in Disney movies. *nervous laughter* They are tricky and out to trick you. And that was what made this story such an appetite cleanser. It is filled with humor, drama and definitely romance. I’d recommend this story to anyone who wants to unwind for an afternoon with a quirky story and characters.

Secrets of Midnight by Miriam Minger was also such a delight. I’m in love with The Man of My Dreams series now. I love cheeky heroines that find love in unexpected place and people.  This regency novel was read on my lunch breaks, and I would have a ridiculous grin on my face because of the heroine’s antics. She’s so flawed, so strong and independent. Pride and prejudice is not something that’s just reserved for wealthy people, a theme that runs through the story. Again, a book I’d recommend for someone who like to laugh and love their heroines on the bold side of life.

And that’s a wrap!

Though it would be remiss of me not to include the names of books I’m currently reading (yes I read multiple books at once, like I mentioned before, I got greedy little hands *grin*).  First is Vanessa Riley’s The Bittersweet Bride (historical), Eve Silver’s Dark Desires (historical), Carole Mortimer’s The Duke’s Mistress (regency), and Leila Haven’s Royal Playboy (contemporary).

What’s on your book list?

Pop Culture and Writing

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I was watching a Nail Horan performance (yeah I never thought I’d open a blog post with that line) and what hit me about his performance was the level of honesty in his music. An earnestness. And I couldn’t help but compare him to the other One Direction “boys” who’ve released solo albums.

If you didn’t know, which none of you probably did, I was a One Direction fan…but not a fan-girl because I’m (honestly put) too old to be getting pfklahbjkllmwnhkowz about boys in a boy-band. I did that with Backstreet Boys, Nsync, Boyzone, Westlife, 98 Degrees, Five…*cough* uh yeah, I have a thing for boy-bands so sue me. I should add The Beatles to the list too since I jam out to their music once every blue moon. But I digress.

So being the fan that I am, I still follow the members and former member’s solo careers. And recently Nail and Liam (Payne) has released albums. While I wasn’t too hyped up about their releases, out of the two Nail’s music seem to resonate with me more. (Let’s ignore Liam’s Justin Timberlake inspired offering of “Strip That Down”.) After watching Nail perform on the Ellen Show, I understood why. He wasn’t trying to sell his music to me as the next number one hit in the world (though I’m sure he’d love that); he was just singing a song that came from a sincere place. My Mom actually walked out of the kitchen into the TV room and said she loved his voice. This people, is a feat in itself since my Mom isn’t big on music in general if it’s not gospel.

As I watched him perform I also realized that as a reader sincerity is what I look for in a book. It can be from the straight-forward romance story of a Harlequin/Mills & Boon novel to the more complicated genre bending dark romance; I still expect sincerity.

But now you ask, “Inge isn’t that what every writer puts in their work?” And I’d have to say, no. Not all writers write books because they feel compelled to write them or because the characters can’t leave them alone or because the story is important to tell (and I’m specifically referring to the romance genre here). I’ve read romance novels that felt rushed, whose characters were one dimensional and the plot unmemorable. Someone once said in a writing group, the romance is the plot. And I thought, yes it is. But, the journey is what makes it interesting. The intrigue. The pushing, the pulling, the crisis, the misunderstanding, etc. you get where I’m going with this.

In romance we only have so many tropes. Sometimes it can become generic and repetitive. I’ve read so many romance novels in my teens and while all of them were enjoyable, I couldn’t tell you who wrote them. I kid you not. I just didn’t pay attention. I paid more attention to the logo of the publisher printed on the book because I knew what type of story I would get.

Back then authors didn’t have to be writing machines the way they are required to be now…and because of that, I do believe a lot more honesty in prose has fallen to the wayside. Characters and plots that grip you at the heart rather than ones that tick off all the boxes that makes them a “hit on the charts” *smile*

There is no formula to romance, no matter what people say. Writing a romance isn’t that simple. However, there are elements to romance novels that are expected to be in there. And for some writers/publishers just hitting those marks are enough to put the work out and on your virtual and non-virtual bookshelf. The same way you hear the same generic pop songs on the radio or on music channels. (I haven’t listened to the radio in years. Wow. I should try it again. *ha*) For the same reason we love artists like Adele and Lorde, because they stand out from the crowd. They offer you something that doesn’t sound standard, but sincere. Authentic, if you will.

Which brought me full circle to myself as a writer; so far I have three published works out there in the universe. I like to believe I hadn’t become generic in my writing (though a part of me suspects that I might have) and with my current manuscript, another paranormal romance, I’m aiming to not just hit all the elements of what’s expected. But to bring honesty to my work.

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I recently read a Brenda Jackson novel, (a first for me) and though the premise of the story has been done before, the way she told it completely drew me in. I’m hooked to the series now. She put a spin on the “brothers-coming-home-per-the-patriarchs-request” on its head by throwing in a murder mystery that spans three books. Nothing felt contrived. I didn’t get the sense that she was writing a series because her publisher or readers demanded the next Brenda Jackson novel. This in turn made me think of the latest Veronica Roth novel that I read, racist and mind bending insensitivity to people who suffer from chronic pain aside, the story hit the checklist of a “hit making” YA sci-fi novel aimed at teenage girls. And it is a bestseller. Like a Veronica Roth novel would be in this decade. It still didn’t change the fact that it was generic. (I’m not going to read the second book.)

What’s funny to me, is that you’ll get big names like Adele and Lorde (yeah I’m back to music again *smile*) who will go to pains to give you something true…honest…authentic. But then also artist who because they have big names, seem to think, they can sell you anything and you’ll buy it. And let’s face it; a lot of us buy it.

I recently mentioned to someone that Taylor Swift’s 1989 sounded to me like she took a lot of inspiration from her friends and sister-music-group HAIM. And it seems to be right around the time she met them that Tay-Tay’s music started to change. Now I’m not saying we can’t be influenced by people, but if you want to listen to the ‘original’ download a HAIM song (my favorite is “If I Could Change Your Mind”).

As a writer, as someone who is operating in the realm of creativity, honesty in anyone’s work matters to me. It’s become one of the things that cause me to return as a customer. If you’re sincere in what you’re offering to me, I’m more likely to buy in to you. Over the years I can only name a few authors I’ve consistently bought and read.  At varsity I bought so many chicklit books but I can’t say I consistently bought a certain author over and over again. I’d invested more in the genre than the authors and when I got sick of the genre, I stopped buying the books.

What I will add at the end of this very longwinded view on Pop Culture and Writing is that I love what self-publishing has done for sincerity and authenticity in the romance novel. Too many checks and balances can make for generic reading. It can keep out voices that stand out from the crowd, that write for the love of it, not just for the deadline or bottom-line. This is a shift I noticed in music too. Singers who start their own label and produce the type of music the recording companies wouldn’t allow them to make. Something that I as a (reader and) listener want: artists who walk on stage like Nail Horan with the ‘world’ at your feet but still have the sensitivity to know that your audience isn’t stupid. We can spot a fake. We’ll know if you put your heart into it, if you borrowed from someone else and if you’re just doing it for the money.

 

 

The New Year feels Old

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It’s strange that as a woman of color in today’s world, I’m not allowed to be angry, passionate and truthful about what’s happening around me without being labeled ‘an angry black woman’. Whether it’s on politics on a global scale or what’s happening in the romance writing industry—her writing groups and organizations, to her publishers and leaders.

Like so many people I watched Oprah’s speech and as it built momentum, as she gave a history lesson while inspiring, while firing up, while being unapologetically a black woman…I wondered,  is that what’s required of all women of color around the world, in their industries? Do we all have to be an Oprah? While our counterparts are what? Becky with the good hair? Who, with not even half my qualifications and a single woman, still gets a bank loan to buy a house in an area my parents had to pool both their incomes to be able to buy in?  (Btw if you have to look up what ‘Becky with the good hair’ means, than you know nothing of black womanhood.)

Yes I went there. In South Africa, like so many other countries human capital favors the colonizer not the colonized. But I digress.

Then after Oprah’s speech, Ivanka Trump happened. My kneejerk reaction was a laugh of derision, like Chrissy Teigen I found her tweet disgusting. I was also ready to say “go away”, you’re not part of the movement, the conversation, so don’t insinuate yourself here.

But was her behavior surprising to me? No. I’ve seen it and experienced it too many times through the Ivanka Trumps of the world to be surprised. What is surprising however is that the Ivanka Trumps don’t even know they are Ivanka Trumps? Call it being blind to privilege—the privilege of being able to express yourself without being labeled—or centuries of systems built to validate, either way it’s glaringly obvious that in 2018 we are still far from eroding this level of ignorance and reasoning.

Last year The Ripped Bodice bookstore did a study on how many romance books were written by nonwhite authors. The study gained attention from numerous news outlets even the New York Times. But no one in my local (SA) writing groups/organizations mentioned it. Of course the study was done in the US, but since the racial issues and tensions in the US parallel so much of what happened and is happening in SA, I find the lack of attention and discussion interesting.

Like the New York Times article’s title stated, “[I’m] in love with Romance Novels, but not their lack of diversity.” I read them and I buy them by the truck load.

Don’t get me wrong, this is not a bashing post. Definitely not written as a ‘Storming of the Bastille’. Though since I’ve entered the publishing world, I have taken note of ‘the royals’ of industry no one’s allowed to speak against. And no I’m not going into specifics this is not an exposé, I actually want a writing career *wink*

The New Year feels old.

At thirty-three (in February I turn thirty-four), I’m fed-up with old issues becoming ‘new’ resolutions. Call it what you want, but 2018 isn’t going to be much different than 2017. I even heard Seth Meyers repeat a joke British actor Hugh Laurie made at the 2017 Golden Globes in his victory speech. And yep, much of Meyers opening at the Golden Globes wasn’t fresh either…seriously, they could’ve asked Trevor Noah to do it. At least his perspective would’ve been fresh and his jokes not a repeat of what someone with a more posh accent said.

And therein lies the problem, the Golden Globes (like so many other award shows, institutions and corporations) unapologetically, like the rest of the ‘royals of industry’, flaunts who they are, what they believe and stand for, in our faces. It’s an indication of how ingrained and insidious everything is. Am I a bit jaded? Yes. I’m excited for what I have planned for this year. But unlike years before, I’m not looking at the industry with wide-eyed-wonder. I’m not assuming the playing field is level for me in South Africa or abroad, because it’s not. I’m not going to look for fairness because this industry (publishing) doesn’t operate that way. None of them seem to.

And no, I’m not okay with things.

“I wished I believed you when you told me this is my home….” ~ Lorde, Hard Feelings.

 

On the Bandwagon: The Dolan Twins

I’m on the bandwagon. Of what you may ask. The Dolan Twins.

And yep I had to write it out like that *grin*

A few years ago I was introduced to these twin brothers who were at the time, very popular Vine stars. They had something like six million followers (?) on the thing. Then they moved over to YouTube too and started making their brand of videos consisting of pranks, challenges and all around randomness.

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Ethan and Grayson Dolan

Now if you Googled ‘Dolan Twins’ because you don’t know who the heck I’m writing about, than Google would’ve coughed up a short bio of comedians Ethan and Grayson Dolan, a list of the Teen Choice Awards they’ve won, links to their YouTube channel and their most recent popular video uploads, as well as entertainment news articles about them. Depending on who has recently tweeted, you might also get a news feed of either Ethan or Grayson’s recent tweet history. Btw Ethan’s older than Grayson by twenty-minutes. I could tell you the dramatic story that accompanies why that is but I’d let them tell you themselves.

Here’s a link to “Draw My Life” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5QZVaw3-6E

I was just done with the Africa Online Book Fair, mentally and spiritually exhausted. I had also come to the disheartening conclusion that I would have to do a full scale rewrite on a completed manuscript since I discovered some issues with it. So, not in the best of moods.

Cue to me re-watching a YouTuber (Reaction Time aka Tal Fishman) reacting to a Dolan Twins Vine Compilation. I think it was a 2015 one, not sure. Anyhow, I decided to check the twins channel out on YouTube. The first video that caught my interest happened to be the one they did with Olympic gymnast Laurie Hernandez. It shook me out of my exhausted state and into a shocked and laughter induced one. I was high on endorphins as I kept replaying Ethan Dolan face planting while trying to beat his brother at gymnastics. (Here’s a link if you want to watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3J5fXd71Vmc )

People the stage was set for a Dolan Twin marathon. A marathon I’d only recently come out of to find the world hadn’t changed much. Jacob Zuma was still dodging the courts, Donald Trump was still the number one President of Twitter and the weather was wrecking havoc on the world. Between politics and Mother Nature I was glad I had this Dolan Twin-reprieve.

And that’s why I’m on their bandwagon. I have no clue what they’ll be in ten years time, because we all know sometimes child stars don’t translate well into adulthood (though I don’t think the brothers will have a problem with that.) In spite of this, I’m firmly in their corner. They’ve been honest about their mental struggles, and also about why they love making YouTube videos. They come across as well-adjusted and grounded people. They spread positivity and always strive to make others laugh. And they genuinely seem to enjoy what they’re doing. You buy into who they are because it’s not fake.

Watching them made me understand character and plot driven stories more. Yeah I’ve gone back to author mode *smile* If the Dolan Twins was a book, you’d be reading it because of who the brothers were. You’d get invested in their personalities, characters and because of that, want to know how the book ends. Whether it was a romance novel, adventure story, mystery…theirs would be character driven. They’ve got strong personalities and are charismatic in their own way. Of course it doesn’t hurt that they won the genetic lottery when it comes to the looks department, though I have to add it’s not their biggest selling point. The ability to provide entertainment, fun, convey camaraderie and add a sincerity to what they do, give them a well earned place as one of the top YouTubers on the website.

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So if you need a pick me up…check them out. If you’re on a break from writing and want mindless fun…check them out. And if you’re thinking this is me doing some free promo for them…you’re right. But still check them out *laughs*

 

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#happywriting

 

What writing Fan-Fiction taught me

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As most of you know, I’m a romance writer of both contemporary and paranormal fiction. I never considered writing fan-fiction before 2017, simply because as a fiction writer I like the idea of coming up with my own characters and worlds.

Which brings me to some of the flaws about writing fan-fiction; it doesn’t teach a novice writer how to do world building since the world you’re writing in already exists, the same with the characterization. The characters already exist with all their strengths and weaknesses so it’s easy (in this regard) to write a new storyline. It can also create expectations in regards to how fast a writer gets feedback on their work. With fan-fiction there’s already a built-in audience—the fans. As an author starting out, that will not be the case, which means you’ll have to have realistic expectations.

Now to what fan-fiction taught me *smile*

1.      It forced me to come up with an angle that no one in the fandom have considered writing about yet. I had to consider how ‘fresh’ the story would be in the fandom as well as stay true to my romance writing roots. So it definitely helps to develop that part of creativity in writing.

2.      Fan-fiction can span from 100k novels to 3k shorts. I chose to go the short story route. It took me out of my comfort zone and helped me to think about what information was really important to give through to the reader in this short story format.

3.      Romance publishers, especially Harlequin, love to tell writers who are interested in submitting to them to open with a bang. Your first line of chapter one has to be gripping and pull them into the story. And then also the end of that chapter has to make the reader want to move on to the next chapter. This technique then should be used throughout the rest of the novel. With fan-fiction, you have to keep the reader interested. Even though they are fans of the celebrities, movies or authors work you’re writing about, you can still lose them if you don’t apply this strategy. It’s also a fun way of developing this skill.

4.      It honed my research and observational skills. I’ve written two fan-fiction stories. One in 2017 and another last week (https://www.wattpad.com/user/IngeUlrike ). Needless to say, I watch the YouTubers I wrote about on a regular basis and enjoy their videos. However, I’m not a ‘fan-girl’. I’m subscribed to their channels but I’d be lying if I said I follow what they do constantly on social media. So I had to delve into their ‘worlds’, read some of the fan-fiction that had been written about them and get the tone of the ‘characters’ as accurate as possible. This made me examine how I research my fictional stories for my novels and how taking more from real life observations can improve my writing.

Needless to say, writing fan-fiction as any writing endeavor teaches you a lot about yourself as a writer.  Do you have anything to share about writing fan-fiction? I’d love to hear read it. Feel free to leave a comment, if so.

 

 

  

A look back at 2017

My first ‘look back’ on my blog! How haven’t I done this before? Okay let’s not answer that question. Let’s rather read my ‘look back’ *smile*

 

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The biggest thing for me was the Africa Online Book Fair. It was such a labor of love and great way to create a platform for African romance authors. It was definitely a highlight of 2017 for me.

 

 

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The other highlight was the release of my first paranormal romance. Not only did I move out of the contemporary lane but I also wrote a story set within a shared world. It taught me a lot as an author.

 

My first radio interview! On SAfm their Sunday Literature show with Nancy Richards. A fellow author Leenna Naidoo set it up and I got to talk about the Africa Online Book Fair as well as my own writing. It was nerve-wrecking but also exciting!

I also made some important decisions in regards to what writing groups and organizations I wanted to support and how they are developing me as an author. I do believe that as an author you have to audit the groups you joined. If after a couple of years there you haven’t experienced significant growth or any support in terms of skill development, you should look at other alternatives. 2017 was definitely a year of evaluating networks, promotion styles and author relationships.

Writing-wise, I completed the first draft of a novella the second half of 2017. Then decided to do a rewrite. I wrote extensively about it here and on my Facebook page about it. It was the first time I grappled with whether I liked the direction of a story after I’d completed the manuscript. *ouch*

I also tried my hand at fan-fiction. There’s an upcoming post about that, so I won’t elaborate here. Please do read it and tell me what you think about fan-fiction.

All and all 2017 was packed with a lot!

 

 

 

 

I am Grateful

I haven’t written a blog post like this one in awhile. A recent Facebook status update on my book page reminded me of just how grateful I am to be able to write, to have books contracted with a publisher, to have people buying those books and leaving reviews. I’m still at the start of my writing journey, by no means an expert or long in the publishing world, but I can’t help but be thankful for the strides I’ve been allowed to make.

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Because it is tough. Like anything worthwhile doing and having is. It doesn’t come easy. And I’m so grateful to be able to have this outlet and write the stories I like to write. To form part of the romance community. To feel liberated enough to say I am a romance author and even if people judge that, to still not care *laugh* because romance writers are AWESOME! *smiles*

I’m grateful for the people who’ve encouraged me and shaped me on this journey. I’m grateful for the countless writing advice gurus who give their advice for free on the inter-webs through articles and video tutorials, for all the authors who write on their blogs about what they’ve learned and who share that knowledge, and also for writing groups on social media…groups who are accessible, open and do not discriminate for whatever reason…you are amazing. And you help people like me who live in a small town, in a third world country, who don’t have a clue on how to approach her dream of becoming a published romance author. It’s really amazing how many willing people are out there, sharing what they know without expecting anything in return. I’m awed. I’m grateful. I’m thankful and am working on paying it forward.

And to my readers (all three of you…Hey Mom! *laughs*), you inspire me, push me and always make me want to give more than a 100% with every story I write. Your support humbles me. My latest book have placed me in front of readers who didn’t know who I was until they picked up my book as part of the Black Hills Wolves series and I’m grateful for you because you gave an unknown to you author a chance. Thank you.

It’s humbling when you think that there are so many people all over the world who do not get to live out their passion. Who do not have the freedom to venture into any career path. For many years South Africa was that type of country. Recently my mother again reminded me on just how tough it was when she was in high school. The then Apartheid government would literally come to Coloured and Black schools and tell students that they couldn’t study certain subjects at grade 11 level. Usually those subjects would be Mathematics, Accountancy, Physical Science and Biology…they didn’t want doctors, lawyers, accountants to come from Coloured and Black groups. In fact there was a quota placed on how many could be allowed into those types of university courses each year. Imagine you’ve spent years doing Mathematics only to be told you couldn’t take it again in grade 12 because you, according to a rigged system, didn’t qualify? And guess what, having a B in those subjects disqualified you. *snorts* Yeah, I also didn’t get straight A’s.

According to the Apartheid government I would be as dumb as a doornail.

I am grateful that I get to do what I do. That I live in a time in the world’s history where as a person of color I can write the stories I like and have people from every ethnicity enjoy them *smile*

And as strange as this sounds, I want to say thank you for all the ‘likes’, the reviews, ‘shares’, ‘follows’, ‘subscribing to my blog’, buying my books, ‘liking my book page’, having me on your blogs, tweeting, and generally coming along with me on my writing journey.

I still have a way to go, but I’m truly grateful for what the journey so far has taught me and how much support I’ve received.

#HappyWriting I know I am because of you.*smile*

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Buy Links:

Amazon: Kindle Store https://t.co/gipdx4OYiZ

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/za/en/ebook/the-wolf-s-choice

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/711816

 

Like my Facebook Page: Books by Inge Saunders: http://bit.ly/1defI54

And I’m also on

Twitter: @saunders_inge

Instagram: @ingesaunders

 

Three Act Structure: Saving my plot

 

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I’m hard at work editing my second paranormal romance. I’m also on my second developmental edit. Why? Because I realized something fundamental while rewriting certain scenes and deleting overused words. My plot felt iffy, because my sub-plot felt iffy.

*smile* Yeah I know, I’m being as clear as mud right now.

I had a plot worked out that revolved around the hero and heroine—good. But the inciting incident that draws the two together, though believable since I’d taken it straight from current news headlines, seemed to the drag the romance in a direction I didn’t want it to go. For a novella with a maximum word count of 30K, the subject matter was too big and distracted from the romance. In fact, the growing romance between the couple seemed trivial in comparison. Why are you two making goofy eyes at each other when Rome is burning down? (Side note: the novella is not set in Rome 🙂 )

And I wanted them to make goofy eyes at each other. That’s the whole point of a romance book. In order to get myself back on track I went back to the fundamental Three Act Structure of a story. Not only should my story follow this structure but my scenes should too. I needed this refresher again to ground my romantic plot.

At its most basic, a Three Act Structure is simply:

Act I: Beginning

Act II: Middle

Act III: End

So let’s break it down more.

Act I:

The set up. First show your main character’s day to day life (this is necessary to measure the change they undergo through their journey). The inciting incident: the event that sets off a course of action, the reason why your main character goes on a journey.

The point of no return: they are committed to their goal and can’t turn back.

Act II:

The middle: here your main character tries to try to achieve their goals. Here, they can also either achieve it or find a new one.

They can even pursue their goal through the whole second act and face obstacle after obstacle. By the end of act II something should happen to make us think they will never reach their goal. All must seem lost.

Act III:

The resolution. What does your character learn, prove or discover? This is where we begin thinking about themes and what we are really trying to say.

 

This is just a simple, basic break down of the Three Act Structure. It kept me focused on my main plot and helped me to make the right decision for the romance in the story. The story flows now and each scene moves at a good pace.

Hope this helps you too!

#happywriting

Divorce isn’t the End

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That title just made some people who know me extremely nervous *smile*

“When did Inge get married?”

“And when did she divorce?”

“How did I not know this?!”

Uhm…I didn’t. I haven’t. And we are probably not as close as you think if the third question went through your head.

But how can I know this then? I’ve never been married.  How I can speak for divorcees?

I’m not.

I’m not speaking for them. There’s so many things said about people who go through divorce on the internet, either by themselves or professionals. Not so much the ‘bystanders’.

And no I’m not going to comment on divorce in general. What I am going to shine a light on are the children, the grownup ones, who have to either pick up the pieces and/or deal with the emotional aftermath. The ones who have to resign themselves to a life of, “What can I say in front of my mother/father about the other, that in no way harms my relationship with both?”

It is funny how even the most amicable separations can turn sour, because even if both parties are okay with leaving, if the other one seems to have a way “better” time at moving on. Some bitterness sweeps in. And that bitterness, no matter the amount, has an effect on the children.

You can be the most well adjusted, emotionally intelligent adult there is, but when your parents go through a divorce…it wrecks your world. The experience tears something inside of you. You won’t realize until you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night unable to breathe because it feels like the air had been sucked out of your lungs. And as an adult, someone who’s thirty-three years old, people expect you to have it together.

You’re not a child that you lean on your parents support for everything. The bulk of sympathy goes to kids who still haven’t finished school. And trust me, I feel for them. They have absolutely no control over their lives; adults are making decisions for them. At least when you’re a grownup you can tell your parents, “Look I don’t want to deal with your drama anymore.” You can cause them to be shamefaced for the way they are acting, for the way they are having you be the grownup, when they raised you. Not the other way around.

So definitely an up and down side to being an adult with recently divorced parents.

Nevertheless here’s why I believe divorce isn’t the end for adult children with divorced parents, especially if those parents chose to get a divorce, rather than the one cheating on the other or being emotionally and physically abusive, etc. But rather them realizing that they’ve grown apart and want different things from life.

You can still be a family. Two years ago I didn’t think that would be possible. (And I know everyone’s circumstances/families aren’t the same.)

But there is hope of peace. Hope of everyone getting on well together. You don’t have to choose sides adult child of divorced parents *smile*

As we all know, a couple breaking up, most of the time, doesn’t have a direct correlation to the children. It’s their issues with each other. So don’t think that at any point in the future you won’t be able to pick up the strands of the relationship again. Yes, it’s going to be different. There’s going to have to be forgiveness and healing. You’re going to have to openly talk about your issues (if you have any) with each other. Because your mother is still your mother and your father is still your father. That bond isn’t going to go away just because your dad is married to someone new, or your mom chooses to live in a commune with people who dress in white and murmur affirmations under their breath. Just saying.  Through your connection, they are still your family. And that makes something like divorce not final.

Death is final. And I have to say, people who compare the two with each other, might not have any plans of ever moving on from divorce. I still carry the death of my biological father with me, but I don’t carry my parents’ divorce with me. To me, the two can never be lumped under the same heading. I can make peace with a living breathing person, but I can’t with someone who’s no longer there.

So divorce is not the end. It’s the beginning of another different kind of life. But still life.

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