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!

 

 

 

 

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A Novella is not just a Latin American name for a serialized TV show

The more I write the less I know *grin* That`s how it feels like lately, especially now that I`m trying my hand at novellas.

Now there are some who`s asking, what in the world is a novella? And I`m one of those people. But I will get to that question in a minute because before it can be answered I will differentiate between a short story, novella and novel. Not in that order *smile*

The prevalent thought is length. Everyone on the internet seems to be of the opinion that length makes up the most significant difference between the three. And yes length does play an important part, but alas it is only the tip of the iceberg. And if you`re a writer like me, you know in your bones that, that can`t possibly be it! *gasp*

I`ve read some novellas recently and the level of skill required for this type of writing, is astounding. You can either wow the reader with the amount of information and character building you can pack in 10K or have an epic fail. But what also surprised me was this; novellas that were over a hundred pages with a 40K word count. The general consensus is that anything between 10K and 40K seems to be a ‘safe’ count for a novella.

Now novels start at 50K and can go up to 100K.  What does it consist of? It consists of fictional prose; usually having a plot that unfolds by actions, dialogue and thoughts of varies characters. It represents characters and events in real life with less or greater complexity. A novel is easy to indentify since the majority of us have been stuck with one at one point in our lives, whether at school, varsity or a well meaning friend who wanted you to read the next ‘it’ book out there aka Twilight.

A short story in my opinion is the complete opposite of a novel. It is a piece of writing that can be read in one sitting.  My favourite way of identifying it is this: writing depicting a decisive moment in life. It often has little action, hardly any character development, it`s just a snap-shot of life. There`s no complex plot (like the novel). There`s an open/abrupt beginning and often an open or surprise ending. Whenever I think of a short story I always think of The Suit written by South African writer Daniel Canodoce “Can” Themba who was one of the Drum writers (a magazine/paper in the Apartheid era in SA).

So now we get to the novella. First of all I have to say that a novella is not just a Latin American name for a serialized TV show, though I have read it described as an Italian style short tale or narrative prose usually with a moral or educational or satirical nature. Now if you`re like me and you love reading romance novels, you would have noticed this type of story, writing, length have found its way to romance novels. There are e-publishers that actually ask for submissions like this as well as print publishers.

Simply put a novella is this: Fictional prose often set in a brief period of time, such as a day, week or month. It often concentrates on character study. Therefore it`s longer than a short story but shorter than a novel. I like to think of it as a ‘short book’. *laugh* Actually that`s what I called it up until I learned about ‘novellas’.

But this is the thing that irks me…yeah it irks me. The exact word count isn`t set in stone. Like I`ve mentioned before it can be anything from 10K to 40K. But there are e-publishers that want between 30K and 60K. The advice I would give with a novella is this, before you write it check the submission guidelines for the e-publisher you want to submit to. There are those who want between 10K- 25K others who would take a 40K etc. And I guess it`s because of this that people place such importance on length.

To me length does make a difference, but execution is much more important. There`s character development that happens over a short amount of ‘time’ and it`s this that carries the story.

Now can we say the novella is the evolution of the short story? Nope. Is it a shorter version of the novel? Yes there`s some truth in that. The novella (aptly named) is closer to a novel than it is to a short story. But it would never just be a Latin American name for a serialized TV show *smile*.

So now my search is over. I`ve found out what a novella is. Now comes the difficult part of putting pen to paper and writing that novella!

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MADE IN THE RSA

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In the words of Trevor Noah, I live in one of the most ‘rock & roll’ countries. It doesn`t get any better than this. Now let just put the whole scary crime thing to the side. We have Table Mountain, Nelson Mandela, JM Coetzee, Charlize Theron, Lady Smith Black Mombasa, to name a few wonders of the RSA, which is most known as SA (South Africa) but I`m having a word play thing going on ala Demi Lovato`s ‘Made in the USA.’

A country with eleven official languages (yep you read right *grin* we don`t discriminate here) and the most forward thinking constitution in the world! *wide eyed* How can you not love growing up here?

But it`s not just that, that makes this country such a beauty and blessing. Now please bear with me, because I`m going to become all wax lyrical about the biggest small town in SA- Worcester *grin* My cousin laughed when I told her Worcester was the biggest small town in SA, she didn`t believe me until I told her it says so on Wikipedia *straight face*

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It was home to JM Coetzee Nobel Prize Winner for his Literary contributions and of course me *grin* But as I recently mentioned on Facebook the town`s completely surrounded by majestic mountains. No matter where you are situated in town, you`ll have a great mountain view. It`s spectacular. Right now those mountains are covered in snow even though it`s early spring.

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Wherever you go in town you`ll find Dutch influenced architecture and it`s no wonder that the town`s people are predominately Afrikaans (a variation of Dutch).

Worcester signals the start of the Boland and boast a National Karoo Garden that`s one of my favourite spots in town.

But Worcester is just a little part of SA. A drop in the ocean of how beautiful this country is. I haven`t even gotten to the people yet. Maybe I should leave that for another post.

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Here are some pics to show my appreciation J

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Inspiring jokes!

Phili Shange was doing what she did every Friday night, take out the unleavened bread and the red wine (insert good name of red wine- you’re the wine connoisseur Phili not me). It was a good vintage. She arranged everything neatly on a tray, then took everything to the living room and placed it on her coffee table. Everything was ready for the Holy Communion. No wait, she forgot the wine glasses. Walking back to the kitchen she suddenly sneezed.

“Ah!” She said after, that perfume she tried out earlier at Clicks wasn`t doing her any favours.

“All the single ladies! All the single ladies!” Her phone rang out.  She frowned, waffling between quickly sprinting to the kitchen to get the glasses and answering her phone.

She went for the phone.

“Hallo?” She scratched her nose, it itched.

“Bless you.” A gravelly voice said then hung up.

Phili frowned at the phone. Then held it to her ear again. “Hallo?”

But no one answered.

She pulled a face “Bless you? That`s weird. Why would someone say that?”

As she walked to the kitchen to finally get the glasses, it hit her. She sneezed! That was what someone said after you sneeze. How did they know? But most importantly, who was that?
***
This scene was inspired by a joke I posted on my Facebook page. Some of my FB-buddies responded to it, saying that the joke could inspire a suspense filled drama. One even said (the main character in my scene) that we should collaborate and write a script for a movie, calling it something to of “Holy Horror”. I told her she could bring the holy and I`d bring the horror. And because I`m a writer, my creative juices were flowing in spite of the fact that I was high on medicine and hauled up in bed. Of course it could be because I was high on medicine that I thought that writing out above scene would be hilarious.

To me it was *grin* (As I`m typing this, my FB-buddy whose name I used hadn`t responded to the post yet).

Here`s the joke: Imagine you`re home alone and you sneeze. Suddenly the phone rings and when you answer, someone whispers “Bless you” and hangs up.

Have I done a good job? *laugh” But it was a fun exercise and got the creativity flowing. I`d recommend doing something like this to anyone. You could even incorporate that little bit of inspiration into a current WIP.

*cool sticks*

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