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.

February Publishing Tip 1

This chart isn’t the full tea sis…okay I’ve been watching too many Shane Dawson and Sister Squad YouTube vidoes.

What I meant to say in my adult voice was this: Up until the agent part this chart is a sure fire way to get you started. But an agent isn’t the only option to get a publishing deal. It’s a traditional way, but not the holy grail. Let’s just put it out there.

I got my first publishing contracts from e-publishers I queried myself with a full self-edited manuscript. There are traditional publishers and e-publishers that don’t require you to have an agent. And of course when you self-publish this whole chart isn’t for you. You’ll go about publishing differently than someone who wants to work with a publisher.

Though the chart is still helpful for someone just entering the publishing world.


January Writing Tip 4

Funnily enough, this was a hard one for me to grasp in recent years.

As someone who wanted to write for Harlequin, I literally entered their So You Think You Can Write competition as a newbie author with no know-how whatsover. I wrote the kind of novel I thought they would want.

When I didn’t make the cut, I looked at my novel again and rewrote some of it. But it still had that Harlequin vibe. My second contemporary romance I wrote again for a Harlequin writing competition. I made it to the top 5, but didn’t win. That novel was also geared towards the publisher and though I cared about the story (like I do with all my writing), it wasn’t like this quote from Laini Taylor.

The Wolf’s Choice became this quote for me. If I walked into a bookstore or if I was browsing online in an e-bookstore…what book, what story will intrigue me?

It took me three books to get to a place as an author where I’m more interested in writing stories for myself than what I think I publisher wants.

Nothing wrong with that.

It just didn’t work for me.



Our last “teen”: 20NineTEAn

So it’s been a minute since I blogged, so I decided to do an actual OG blog post. On people freaking out about it being the last year with a “teen” at the end…*crickets*

Yeah that’s not just what this post will be about.

Today I will amuse you with the fact that two months ago I started watching The Walking Dead. Now you’re thinking, “Inge, you’re late to the game. We’re already at Season 9. This aint it sis.” Well, I don’t care. And here’s why.I didn’t want to jump on the zombie apocalypse train simply because I honestly am not a zombie apocalypse fan. Zombies was just not that scary to me.

What? You’re going to slow walk your way into my nightmares? Get out of here!

Not my cup of tea.

But towards the end of 2018 I needed a show that could replace some of my other supernatural creatures like vampires and werewolves. I decided to give TWD a try. And man do I not regret this one.

I’m now in the middle of Season 8. I’ve already ‘stumbled’ across some spoilers, but that’s fine. I’m okay, just don’t ruin Season 9 okay *fake smile*

I am impressed with this show. It has the right amount of human struggle in a zombie world, action, violence and intrigue that I need to keep me glued to the screen. TWD is definitely a modern horror movie/TV lover’s series. Slow moving zombies that go into a frenzy when they spot the living. I am down for this type of zombie.

And before you think this is just a Walking Dead post, I’m going to end all talk of them right after I add, Glenn should not have died. I’m still upset, triggered and view it as a mistake on the writers part.

Okay moving on *laughs*

2019 is upon us. We can do absolutely nothing about it. It’s the last year of our “teens”, which might explain why everyone’s having a crisis about it.

Remember how nostalgic people got their last year of high school or varsity? This feels like that. Only I’m not participating because I’m that one kid who couldn’t wait to “get out” and see the world.

I want 2020. There are so many great movies and projects to look forward to in 2020. Not that I’m dismissing 2019, but let’s face it. Uneven numbers just don’t do it so much for us as even numbers.

I view 2019 as a gap year. The year I’m going to get a lot of things done and setup for 2020. The launch year. And then 2020 is the year I’m in space discovering new worlds in the Kuiper Belt.

2018 for me has been a learning curve on a personal level, as well as in publishing. So many things have gone down with the latter that I’m not at liberty to reveal right now, but will definitely speak about here at a later stage. I love to share my experiences in publishing on here because I do believe it adds information and a different point of view to what’s already out there.

2018 was a year of meeting new writers, joining new writing organizations, rediscovering internet spaces like YouTube, and making use of Facebook as a marketing tool for my author page, and trying to balance the personal with the professional life (and failing miserably *laughs*).  The year was overall just me reacting to everything that got thrown at me, whereas 2019 is going to be a year of me throwing stuff at it, building a strong foundation and moving on from there.

I want to end off this post with this nugget, because it’s going to be my author-moto for the rest of my life: Work with people you can reasonably trust on a professional level on the internet. A lot of my writing world/work is connected to the internet and having a level of good faith with the people I interact with on here, brings so much peace of mind. Luckily I’ve been around for a solid minute to know how to spot these types of people.

And yeah, that’s it. I wish you a wonderful 2019 #writingjourney and #publishingjourney

Let’s get it! (She says while posting a picture of herself sitting with her feet up. But it’s the 3rd of Jan…surely, I can *wink*)

It’s the half year mark

IMG_20180706_134751It’s the half year mark and everyone’s obsessed with “Where did the time go?” At least everyone around me.

Everyone’s evaluating what they’ve done so far, checking their list of things for the year and depending on how many are checked off, they might either be embracing the next six months with open arms or sighing at the mountain that’s still ahead.

I prefer to take the ‘easy lane’, as in I don’t obsess about what I’ve accomplished so far or haven’t gotten to yet. I also keep the big picture in mind. Because at the end of the day, that’s the ultimate goal. Life happens and it happens whether you want it to or not. For a writer that can set you back. Because let’s face it, we all know when it comes to our writing time we literally have to shout from the rooftops for some “respectful distance” from those around us.

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been off Facebook, because that’s the social platform that sucks most of my time. Personally I’ve also kept a low profile in relationships, because like I said above, sometimes we need to enforce a “respectful distance”. (I don’t know why I’m making quotation marks; it just feels like it’s needed. Sue me.)

This helped me to get to where I want to be by July in regards to my writing. And it also made me realize just how healthy it is for a writer to get away from the clutter of voices that constantly bombard you on social media. Though I have to add, I find the clutter less on platforms like Twitter (surprising I know) and Instagram, probably because I tend to not follow as many people in my industry on those platforms. This honestly keeps me sane. There’s only so much shoptalk a person can take without blowing your brains out…uh too much? Yeah, that’s how it feels like sometimes. Way too much writing and publishing “talk” that I literally want to gauge my eyes out. Can’t help it, my creative mind is sensitive like that.

But I do appreciate how accessible our information society is (ooh look at me using that one module I hated at university’s lingo. Seriously, that class was just not my cup of tea. The very young tech savvy lecturer was, but not the class. Sorry not sorry). Without it I wouldn’t have embarked on this writing journey. But I digress.

It’s the middle of 2018. So far I’ve come a long way with my rewriting project *laughs* That’s such an awkward sounding sentence.

But I have. And I’m kind of proud of myself for rewriting a book from the foundation up, sentence by sentence and really getting into the nitty-gritty of who my characters are and what they want and how they are going to get it and what obstacles are going to be in their way.

While rewriting I realized the foundation of my story, the conflict was just too shallow and I couldn’t submit a book that didn’t build on the level of emotional upheaval that my previous stories had. It would’ve been a step back from what I normally write. And I like writing characters that have to fight for a happy ending, characters that come with their own internal struggles. It’s what makes writing so much fun for me.

I also love that I’m still learning with each book. I recently read an article that brought everything back to the heart of why I write and how to write.( It’s just one of those things that will never get old for me.

So, have I checked everything off my list for the first half of the year? Uh no. But then again, I didn’t really have a list. I had an idea of what I wanted to accomplish throughout the year and there were definitely dates on each one of them, but not many were set in stone, hence the reason I’m so relaxed about the half year mark and everyone around me is going nuts! No seriously, they are. And I’m not just referring to the writing world.

I am still working on my latest project, but I’m not stressed over it. Why? Because I’m rebuilding. I’m reworking chapters and loving it. I’m learning new skills and applying them. I’m focused on telling a story that I love.

I’ve also personally and professionally accomplished most of what I wanted to. The book fair, for one. That’s done. I also joined the South African Writers’ Circle this year. Something I’ve wanted to do for ages but hadn’t gotten to. I’ve also set out the goal of branching out and reaching out to more writing communities/authors. I’ve done that. And will keep on doing it. I do believe that sometimes you can get stuck in a comfort zone, a bubble with the same group of people and become so used to a certain way of thinking/seeing that you don’t realize how narrow that can be. Not all writing groups are toxic, but some do encourage toxic behavior (with writing, publishing or otherwise), case in point #Cockgate and #Getloud.

It’s good to get in touch with people who might not necessarily write what you write. I’m not particularly fond of the ‘us against, them’ mentality in the writing world. Probably because I live in South Africa and that’s pretty much what you get here pre-and post-Apartheid SA.

But enough of that *smile*

So far 2018 has been back breaking work…but worth it. I’ve gotten a lot done, but with others I am taking my time because at the end of the day I want a product I’m pleased with.

Hope your half year mark doesn’t look bleak and that you’re not being too hard on yourself if it is. We are only human after all *wink*



Lessons Learned in Publishing So Far

I feel like this post should be done in point system, because some points need to be elaborated on but not all of them. They are easily understandable.

So let’s get right into it!


Ten lessons I learned in my publishing journey:

  1. Do your research. Research the publishers you want to submit your work to. Research the genre you want to write in. Research the subject/theme your story is about. Research your novel. Research your market. Research everything basically. Don’t go into publishing with blinkers on.
  2. Ask if you need help. Yes, you’ll hit a few walls but there will be someone willing to answer your questions. And please don’t let one of those questions be “how much money do you make as an author?” That’s not going to endear you to anyone. No one, and I mean no one, likes to talk about money. If it’s that much of an issue for you, than see point number one.
  3. Writing groups exists for a reason. Authors/writers like to congregate there. It’s a good source of information, creating networks and developing writing skills.
  4. Take a writing course. If it teaches you nothing else, it will test your commitment to wanting to go into writing.
  5. Publishing is a slow process. No seriously, it is. You submit (pitch) a manuscript, it takes six weeks for you to get a response. Depending on the response, if it’s a revise than it can take another couple of weeks to work on the manuscript and to get an answer you’d like. If it’s a contract, pop some bubbly but don’t get too excited. There’s editing. You could’ve written the book a year before and it only comes out the following year. Some publishers work faster and with self-publishing the decisions are up to you, so you can have a book out as soon as you feel comfortable with the public seeing it.
  6. This brings me to number six: Self-publishing. Many authors are hybrids. They can be traditionally, e-published and self-published. Some only take one of the three routes. Authors following more than one lane aren’t as uncommon as it used to be. So keep that in mind when you do your research.
  7. Having a few published books doesn’t make you a master at writing, keep developing that skill.
  8. Branding is important. So is keeping your sanity. If you like writing in more than one category, than by all means do. Just know what your readers expect from you. If they can go on a contemporary, paranormal, science fiction and historical journey with you, than good for you. Pen names are also an option to keep the brand ‘pure’.
  9. Writing awards/competitions work well to establish an author in the industry. If you feel so inclined, than do enter your work. Some competitions give feedback. However keep in mind these awards/competitions also need to be researched. A while back I entered a competition that I thought would be impartial, as it turned out it wasn’t. Not only was my novel never entered, after I paid the fee, but I only found this out after an email was sent to everyone that the judging panel had read all the books and had scored them. Not only wasn’t I given an apology for what happened, but my book was placed under a distinct disadvantage. They now had to scramble for judges on the panel that would be willing to read and score the ‘late’ entry. They rushed through my book to hit the competition’s deadline. Needless to say, I’m still a bit sour over that. Though that’s only the tip of the iceberg of the snafu. So make sure you want to enter, and then make sure your book has actually been entered after you paid the entry fee.
  10. This is not a sprint industry. ‘Overnight’ success isn’t always ‘overnight’ successes. If you put in the work, time and effort you can make it in this billion dollar industry. But that’s on all on you.



The ‘Why’ behind the Africa Online Book Fair: Romance Authors & Books

Africa Online Book Fair Facebook Cover 2 (2)(1)

It’s an understatement to say I am excited! The online book fair is a first for me and I am are ready to start.

But before I get into giving you the details of the where and the when, I’d like to explain the point behind #AfricaOnBookFair.

I grew up in Apartheid South Africa, mostly at the end tail of the Struggle. In 1994 when we had our first democratic election I was still in primary school. Buying books, much less writing books weren’t something that was encouraged for any person of color. Yet authors of color prevailed.

They wrote books about the history of the country, books about their daily struggle. Wonderful Drum Magazine writers wrote some of the most memorable short stories that opened up worlds for me when I studied them in high school and university. Poetry like To Whom It May Concern by Sipho Sepamla still touches many around the world. But…yes there’s a but, I didn’t come across prolific romance stories set in my country and the rest of Africa, that didn’t have tinges of colonialism or was written for a specific audience that didn’t include readers outside of it.

The stories weren’t inherently diverse. Stereotypical roles for people of color littered these romantic texts and even till this day when I go to my local library and bookstores I have to hunt for romances written that’s multicultural or even interracial, romance that showcases the beauty and scope of the landscape as well as the people of this continent, and also the authors that come from it.

Romance authors in Africa don’t just write contemporary/historical novels in bush settings or urban settings, they write steamy reads about fairies and werewolves too. Local heroes and heroines making a life abroad. Nail biting suspense and mystery romance novels. Science fiction and fantasy. Young adult and new adult stories. They even interpret characters from different genders, races, cultural backgrounds and religions.

And I asked myself, where can you find these books and authors with so much diversity among them? Where is a place you can walk into and have a good fun old time getting book deals and meeting your next favorite author? You guess right. A book fair.

But because Africa is a really…really big continent, how do you get all of these terrific romance authors and their stories together in one spot for readers to discover them?

Thank God for the invention of the military programme that became the internet! Online is the easiest way to find things you’re searching for. Whether it’s the definition of a word (so guilty of that) or buying a pair of shoes, online shopping, buying and selling, and researching are things we consider common. Even in Africa.

Everyone owns a device they can use to access the internet.

And that’s how the #AfricaOnBookFair was created. It stemmed from this need to say, “If you’re looking for romance stories set in Africa or want to find out who your next favorite African author in every romance genre out there is, here they are. Online. Easy to access. You don’t have to pay to get in. You don’t have to stand in a queue. You don’t have to feel hot and sweaty. Or cold and tired. You sit in your home or wherever you might find yourself and check out what’s on offer.” Money you would’ve spent on gas, food and tickets to get in can go into buying extra books! As a bookworm, that makes me extremely happy.

And I know every little bookworm heart is giving a fist pump *laughs*

The Africa Online Book Fair aims to bring African romance authors and readers together. In a nutshell it is as simple as that. And I really hope you’ll come meet every single one of them.

Event date: Friday 2nd to Sunday 4th June 2017.

Starts: 10:00 am ( Cape Town time)

Ends: 22:00 pm (Cape Town time)


So without further adieu, here they are:

Aziza Eden Walker

Bailey Quinn

Elaine Dodge

Inge Saunders

Jayne Bauling

Joanne Macgregor

Kathy Bosman

Leenna Naidoo

Marie Dry

Nana Prah

Sherita Singh

Theresa Beharrie

TM Clark

Link to the Event Page:

Twitter: @AfricaOnBookFr

Instagram: @africaonlinebookfair

The Dreaded Synopsis


For the last two years or so, I’ve come to embrace the synopsis. And though embrace is a strong word, since you won’t find me just jumping into one, I have realized the importance of one if I ever want to be considered by a big publishing house.

So instead of listing all my struggles with writing them, I decided to write how I became comfortable with writing synopses.

I’ve read a lot of articles on the topic and watched a few online teachings. I’m not good with textbooks because it makes me feel like I’m back at varsity and my “Am I going to get graded on this?” mentality isn’t so easy to shake off, even years later.

But the light-bulb didn’t come on until I realized that 1) there’s a specific publisher I like to write for and they require a synopsis. Without one I’m toast at the door. They won’t even consider me no matter how intriguing the pitch, hook or first three chapters. My submission won’t make it past the threshold. So to not put myself at a disadvantage, I knew I had to master the synopsis.

2) I came across a Harlequin editor who gave advice on synopsis writing. A side note: whenever an editor from a respected publisher give advice on writing, take note.

She hit all the points I’ve read so far. But what stood out for me from her advice was how simple she made synopsis writing seem. At the end of her advice she said, synopsis writing is you drawing a map. The map contains all the high points, the beginning and ending. You have a good idea of where the highs and lows are going to be. And writing the story are filled with all the meaty parts in-between, like the ditch the car falls into after a deer crossed the road. You write about all the angst and fear that came along with the experience. A minor setback, but the end destination still needs to be reached.

I started writing my synopsis like this. A road map. And that’s how I still view a synopsis, especially one that’s aimed at an editor.


So besides these things, here are a few points I focus on when I sit down to write a short synopsis:

  1. First thing check the length the publisher wants. This can range from 1-2 pages to 5 pages. Reading the guidelines will save you a lot of time.
  2. Format: Double-spaced, 1 inch margins, Times New Roman font and Header over every page (check with the publisher if they require a specific style of Headers).
  3. Start bold. The same attention you spend on the opening line of your book put the same effort into the opening line of you synopsis. Grab the editor’s attention first before you summarize the book.
  4. Stay focused. In a short synopsis for 1-2 pages there aren’t space for extraneous details. Don’t include secondary plots or characters, unless they play a part in understanding the resolution. Don’t use multiple points of view (POVs) even if they are present in the novel.
  5. Determine your romance’s focus ahead of time. You should determine your target publisher’s preferences ahead of time and use it to guide your effort. A publisher like Harlequin wants romance, so get to that quickly and end on the romantic resolution.
  6. Write in present tense. This is something I didn’t know at the beginning. It is so simple and makes so much sense. Because the present tense creates a sense of urgency. This makes it effective.
  7. Show, don’t tell. Yes, even in a synopsis. Show the story through a good plot. Don’t describe it.
  8. Don’t resort to empty questions. “Will they fall in love?” This is an editorial pet peeve. You’re going to have to answer the question, so you’re wasting space. These types of sentences also yank the editor out of the story. They are views as “author intrusive”. You are not letting the story speak for itself, you are speaking for it.
  9. Many editors make it a rule not to read after the third typo. So be thorough!


Sweat the opening three paragraphs. Most editors conduct a “three paragraph” test.  If you don’t grab their attention by then, they simply won’t read on. A strong opening line and a quick tight overview of the hero/heroine and conflict.

These tips I learned from romantic suspense author Lisa Gardner. I look at them every time I sit down to write a short synopsis as a refresher. And even as I type this post, I learned something new.

Learning this skill isn’t a once off thing. You’ll have to practice it and practice some more. It’s not for the fainthearted and it’s not for the lazy writers. It’s not for the ones who are ‘stuck in their writing ways’, the ones who skip publishers because they want to avoid a synopsis. Because it’s a hurdle they can’t exercise enough to jump over.

Hard work do pay off. And I do believe getting the synopsis is one step closer to publication.


On Voice Part 2: “Your voice isn’t strong enough.”

Recently I received feedback from an editor that said, “Your voice isn’t strong enough.” It wasn’t, ‘this needs a stronger voice’, only referring to the piece of writing. No. It meant the voice I wrote in normally for my romance novels weren’t as strong as it should be.

Now, if you’re a newbie like me, you first need to absorb the information and then go on a Google search to find out what exactly the editor meant, because in Part 1 of On Voice here on my blog, Lee Child explained in a lovely quote what having a ‘voice’ truly meant as an oral storyteller.

The publishing industry, however, has its own definition of what ‘voice’ is in the written word and when they tell you to strengthen your voice, it has everything to do with your style of writing.

So in a quest to distinguish my voice and make it stronger, I’ve discovered these points I have to focus on.

1. I need a persona when writing.1003679_631124983566225_882649124_n
Uh…yeah I know, sounds weird. But I need one. I need to have a character I can ‘step’ into when I’m writing, almost like placing on a ‘thinking hat’ but more concrete since this persona is going to be ‘put on’ whenever I sit down with my laptop and work on a story. This will allow me to develop and refine my writing objectively. By doing this I’ll also be able to, in future, drop this persona and write as a different type of character because I’ve distanced the ‘daily me’ from the ‘writing me’ and in so doing, made it easier to switch between narrative voices. Some prefer to ‘step into’ their main character and ‘live’ the story through them.


2. Style.
I need to use stronger verbs, alter the sentence structure, use alliteration, internal rhyme, onomatopoeia and uncommon words.
For me this will happen during the self-editing process, when I go back over the first draft, or second or third…you know where I’m going with this *smile* I even read that you can make up words to make your voice distinctive as you write a certain character. The idea here is to match the setting and situation your character is in.


3. Authority.
Authority refers to the writer’s confidence or control of the material. The idea here is to have a strong, credible voice.
How do you attain authority? By doing your research. You must provide specific, concrete temporal and/or physical detail. To write with authority, you have to know what you’re talking about. Even in romance! Spend a good amount of time developing characters, location and plot. This gives you power and control.


4. What do you want the reader to feel?
The emotions you use your voice to invoke will stick with readers. When they open one of your books it will all come back to them. What do you want your readers to feel on page six of a new manuscript? What strategies can you use to draw out that feeling?


These are only a few points that stood out to me that I’m personally focusing on in my writing at the moment. There are definitely more on voice and how to develop it.

One thing to keep in mind; voice evolves over time and working on yours will create a strong authorial voice.

Do you have any tips of your own? Then leave a comment.

Getting that 2nd Book Contract

i want to see you be braveGetting that 2nd Book Contract was just as great as getting the first one! In fact it had me going into a mild panic, reading and re-reading my email to make sure my brain wasn`t making up stuff and basically rubbing my forehead while my heart was having great palpitations…I was shocked! Why you ask? Because…I mean…I`m…me *incredulous look*

Don`t you ever feel like that writer? Yes I`m talking to you. Don`t you feel like you`re not worthy? Like that first book contract was a fluke. Like that great editor who recognized something in your story, was basically…wrong …misguided *pulling face* Yes, that`s where I found myself between being deliriously happy and doing my happy dance.

I questioned. I marveled. I agonized.

And it should mean something that a panel of editors said yes to your story. It should make Gooseflesh appear and also a bright smile. But my hectically overanalyzing brain couldn`t let me rest. I had the email. I was staring at it on my phone. I`d start typing an email to my editor Zee Monodee to make sure the email was meant for me, then I`d stop myself.  It clearly was addressed to me and referenced my book!*yikkes* I was a mess!

It took me four days to tell my writing group I got an offer for my novel “Dance of Love”. FOUR DAYS!  What writer could keep news like that to themselves for so long?! But I did! I was waiting for the shoe to drop. I was pinching myself. Unlike the first time I got offered a contract I wasn’t 100% in the clouds. And in hindsight, it had a lot to do with my first book contract.

Technically, this book contract is my 3rd and not my 2nd. My first romance novel was contracted twice last year. The first time from an e-publishing company that cared little about the quality of the finished product and would, in my opinion, use whatever means to sell a story. In this case, the book`s cover that didn`t depict an inkling of what the story was about. This was only the tip of the iceberg that was the major publishing drama/trauma I lived through in 2013. It taught me to be vigilant, to do my homework where publishing companies are concerned, even editors. See what their up to on the internet-social networks, ect. The same tabs they keep on potential writers.

The 2nd time my novel was contracted it was truly a perfect fit with an editor I got to know through my writing group and who knew of the drama I went through. This editor also had a great reputation and work ethic to start with. It didn`t take me long to sign on the dotted line to work with her.

So when I heard I was going to work with her again on “Dance of Love”, I was excited, elated…more than satisfied. Yet I paused, not because of her…not because I thought this e-publisher was in any way like the first one, but because I simply hadn`t realized how much residual trauma stayed with me.

It was more than pinching myself to realize a novel got contracted again…I experienced fear on a level I never had before. I couldn`t appreciate the moment completely for what it was, because once not long ago I got burned and still wore the scar.

I distrusted and that wasn`t a good place to be, so this was what I did.

I decided to be brave. I decided to “be amazing’. I decided “[I] could turn a phrase into a weapon or a drug”…yes I danced my heart out to Sara Bareilles`s Brave! I decided to not let my first experience in the publishing world “…settle [be]neath my skin”. brave

It was a lesson, it gave me thicker skin but it would never steal my joy again…it wouldn`t limit me.

I`ll keep on following my dream…I`ll keep on being brave:-)

So here`s to more book contracts and success to not only me, but everyone who`s taking the writing journey with me:-)