Tuesday, December 28, 2010

She's really lost it this time

Those of you who're close to me know I'm apt to leap before I look, or think, for that matter. Crazy idea number one (of surely many to follow this coming year) is to somehow write an 80 000 (that's what I'm guesstimating) novel in time to revise and submit within March for Angry Robot's open door month. (Yes, I'm an Aries, in case you're wondering.)

You can read more about Incarna here: http://paranormalwriters.blogspot.com/2010/12/adventures-in-urban-fantasy-birth-of.html

Thing is, I work in a deadline-driven environment. I work better when someone expects me to achieve the impossible. So, anyone else wanting to jump in on the madness? I'll crit yours if you crit mine (anyone mad enough to try for the Angry Robot fling?).

Read more about Angry Robot's open door month here: http://angryrobotbooks.com/march-2011-open-door-month/

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Play it Loud with Gina Lee Nelson

Today I welcome author Gina Lee Nelson to my world. Welcome, Gina, and many thanks for stopping by for a chat. I recently read her romance novel, Play it Loud, and enjoyed it so much I dropped her mail to say thank you.

How did you take the well-known concept of "girl meets celeb" and give it that touch of realism?

I attended acting school at the Circle in the Square Theater in New York City. In the theater district and on the Upper West Side it was common to see celebrities on the street. I also worked for a catering company that handled parties and dinners in Lincoln Center and the Museum of Modern Art, plus other well-known clubs and theaters. Though we didn't exactly exchange words, I'll never forget seeing celebrities like John Malkovich and Val Kilmer up close and personal. My experiences in Manhattan definitely removed some of the celebrity mystique.

One Christmas I was invited to a party at the home of one of my fellow acting students. Turned out she was the daughter of a famous Broadway composer and lyricist. Her home was a two-story apartment on the 80th floor of a historic building on Central Park West. I walked in and found not only her famous composer father, her well-known actress mother, but their famous friends, Lauren Bacall and her children.

You write with great passion about music. Do you play at all? Do you have favourite music you listen to while you write?

I don't play, I sing. Trained in musical theatre, I currently teach choir and drama. In my personal life, I often sing in church. Music definitely draws me closer to God.

If music is on when I'm writing, it's very, very low and usually instrumental. I'm so auditory, music can be distracting. If I'm editing or formatting, I might listen to Zydeco, Jack Johnson, Keith Urban--you name it. I'm a fan of music all across the FM dial.

Tell us about Evan Price. Are there any real musicians who inspired him?

Absolutely. I was a huge Josh Groban fan when I began writing this story. My hero is from Georgia, not California, but Josh was the original inspiration.

Describe your writing environment.

Let's see...I often write at the desk next to the television in the middle of my living room, but only when all is quiet. Occasionally I write on my laptop in bed before I go to sleep. I don't recommend either location, but I currently live in a small space.

Are there any works in progress you'd care to share the skinny on?

I'm trying my hand at a light, Southern mystery series set in Texas. It's based on a short story I published with The Wild Rose Press a few years ago.

Tell us about Play it Loud.

An ambitious reporter stumbles upon the story of her career when she rescues a pop star from the path of an oncoming subway train. Little does she suspect that revealing his painful secrets will challenge her need to succeed at all costs.

Claire Ashton-Howard strikes out on her own to prove to herself, her Upper East Side family, and Downtown Magazine she has what it takes to make it as a journalist. Unfortunately, immersing herself in Evan Price’s life may force her to question her motives, confront her controlling family, and open her heart.

Two years ago, a devastating motorcycle accident not only stripped Evan Price of his pop star status, but cost him his friends and his incredible singing voice as well. Now he’s ready to pursue a comeback as a writer and producer. First he must overcome the demons in his past, and then convince Vista Records he’s more than a has-been. In spite of his misgivings, he allows Claire to infiltrate his defenses only to discover she may be as self-centered as the music world around him.

What are the three books you'll always have on your shelf and why.

Touch not the Cat by Mary Stewart was written in the 1960s, but it pushes all my buttons. It's a delightful mystery within a mystery that doesn't reveal the identity of the heroine's telepathic lover until almost the very end.

To the Hilt by Dick Francis. Probably my favorite mystery writer, Francis writes phenomenal, spare, yet illuminating, narrative. The protagonist in this mystery is an artist who leaves his bare existence in the Scottish Highlands to save his family and reconcile with his wife, on his own terms. Yum.

Wicked Game by Jerri-Smith Ready. Also a first-person narrative, this one's about a young woman who turns from life as a grifter to marketing a radio station overflowing with vampire DJs. Each DJ spins records from his or her own era, but the emphasis is on the rock music of the 1990s. Deliciously frothy, and very sexy.

Okay, I'm shocked. I chose not only three first-person narratives, but three mysteries as well. I'm obviously going through a phase!

Web site and blog:

Claire’s instincts as a performer were right on, courageous fire and simmering sensuality. He remembered her courage from the subway and her sensuality from the audition. Now as she played, his passion ignited, and a desire stirred to take her in his arms. The red highlights aglow in her gorgeous hair and the strength of her ivory hands captivated him. But it was her expression of ardent longing, innocent and untried, that drew him in and urged him to follow as if she played the piper.

He almost forgot to open his mouth and sing when the time came. Braff thought his voice no longer had value, would no longer sell records. In spite of the music exec’s cutting words, Evan sang anyway. For the love of it, for the need to succeed, to prove to himself and to all of them that he could.

When the last note faded, the room remained silent. All at once, the musicians erupted in excited chatter. He stole a look at Claire. Good, lord. Her skin was pale, smooth and perfect. Her eyes were a warm hazel-green with the same russet lashes as that magnificent hair. She wasn’t beautiful–she was bewitching, striking and different, qualities he’d been too angry to appreciate in his hallway. He met her stunned expression with a gentle smile of encouragement and flat out pleasure. They would make the perfect team. His breath stopped for a moment when her gaze softened with what? Admiration? For what? He shook himself.

“Beautiful,” he murmured for her ears alone. He smiled at the others. “Great job. Now get out.” Evan pointed at Claire. “Not you. You and I need to talk.”

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NEWS from Nerine... wearing her editor's hat...

I'm currently looking for submissions of erotic fiction, so do drop by at http://www.lyricalpress.com/submissions and see what the guidelines are. Make me happy. Some of my favourite authors include Storm Constantine and Jaquline Carey, which should give a pretty good idea about my likes... My only stipulation is that the stories must be narrative-driven and display some sort of character development. And yes... I still like vampires. I would like to see some urban faeries, however... **wink**
Email your queries to: nerine@lyricalpress.com

Monday, December 13, 2010

Obligatory Scrooge blog post

I'm not quite sure when it happened, but I became a bit of a Scrooge some time over the past decade, probably 'round the time I came out of the broom closet and admitted that I'm not a Christian. I celebrate the Wheel of the Year with the pagans, tho' I describe myself more as a self-styled mystic with iconclastic tendencies. I am a philosopher, a magician and an author, which sort of suggests that I spend a whole lot of time thinking about stuff then writing about it, with the intention that my words eventually go out there and create change. Even in romance writing, which is pure "for the fun of it", I love showing characters who experience some sort of personal transformation. And that is pure magic, in my opinion.

But, I'm also in the media industry, and that's the thing. Over the past decade that I've been immersed in assorted advertising-related print media scenarios, I've grown to despise anything that is attached to a "reason for the season", pink-and-red Valentine's hearts or gifts for Mom.

I've reached the point in my life where I can and will have a panic attack if you make me walk through a shopping mall at year-end, at 11am on a Saturday. Tinsel fills me with a gnawing sense of impending doom. Christmas carols cause me to hyperventilate and look for the nearest exit. Don't even show me a fat beareded man in a red suit. I'll run screaming. Ho. Ho. Ho.

Why? Because any commercial holiday that requires me to a) buy stuff, b) buy stuff and c) buy stuff, uses clever advertising to induce guilt and generally involves extended meals with family I cannot stand, is just... Well, I don't buy it anymore. I've opted out. Part of my work involves selling lies. You can't honestly expect me to buy my own patter, do you?

And, you're more than welcome to point fingers at me, because I can't and won't have kids. I'd probably be singing a completely different tune if I had spawned a sproglet or two. But I've also got a funny feeling if I'd had sprogs, I'd probably be the horrible, nasty kind of mother who doesn't put up a Xmas tree or buy gifts. And my offspring would live deprived lives and probably end up being the kind of parents who overcompensate for my evil a generation later by stuffing their offspring full of Xmas cheer.

What I'll be celebrating this year is UnXmas. Essentially this boils down to taking advantage of the general buzz of everyone else being on leave so we can partake in that old South African custom of "kuier" (Afrikaans for "visit" that implies sitting around and talking about sh1t while drinking).

Depending on whether my car is functioning, I may drive 244km up the N2 to visit my family, but I'm not going to lose sleep over the missed gammon lunch. I stopped eating pork about half a decade ago, in any case. And besides, I loathe my siblings. I'd rather visit my folks when the others aren't there.

Call me anti-social if you will, but I'd rather not fall into that breathless rush of looking for marzipan at 4.30pm on Christmas Eve or eating myself into a stupor. You'll find me rather chilling on my balcony, sipping a G&T, and enjoying the view. Deadlines aside, I have enough to stress about during the rest of the year. And damn, that gin tastes fine with lemon when it's 28ºC outside and everyone else is comatose after too much braaivleis.
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Writing as Therése von Willegen, I released my first erotic romance novel, Tainted Love, on December 9. While romance may not be everyone's "thing", do go take a look. I had loads of fun researching and writing the story. It's quite a departure from my usual fare, but it's a great story with some memorable characters. Besides, who hasn't wondered what it must be like baring all?

See: http://www.bookstrand.com/tainted-love

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Running out of year, fast

I think I sneezed and suddenly I ran out of 2010. I mean, really, WTF? Looking back, it's clear a lot has happened. A lot of good and some bad, but mostly good.

Writing-wise I've seen the print release of both my Khepera novels this year, which are also both available through Exclusive Books (one of South Africa's big book retailers). Not many snapping-on-the-heels-of-the-big-fish authors can boast that.

Editing-wise, since I've purchased my very own laptop, I've been able to keep a closer handle on my deadlines. How I managed to cope last year bouncing between machines at home and elsewhere, I don't know. I'm also really pleased to report that some of my debut authors have gone on to having their second novels contracted to Lyrical Press, and my oh my, have some of them are shining with their writing. I'm looking forward to seeing how their novels will do when they release next year.

In the same breath, I'd like to add that I'm currently open to queries from authors in the urban fantasy, steampunk and paranormal romance genres, as well as actively seeking BDSM stories. I'll also consider contemporary and historical romance if a story has a bit of added "something else" (grit). If you've an idea, you're welcome to email me at nerine@lyricalpress.com after visiting http://www.lyricalpress.com/ for its submission guidelines.

Stuff I like: vampires, pirates, vampirates (okay, being silly here **grins**) but as a guide, my favourite authors include Storm Constantine, Jacqueline Carey, Neil Gaiman and Poppy Z Brite, while I have to dip my hat at William S Burroughs and Hunter S Thompson. That should give you a pretty good idea of what I'd love to see in submissions.

But equally exciting has been my decision to start writing outside of my chosen genre: going the erotic romance route. Even better is realising how much I enjoy writing these stories because, to be honest, it really does show when an author isn't comfortable within a particular genre. I view my romance writing, under the name of Therése von Willegen, as a vacation between my "serious" projects. If you want to keep up to speed with that particular "brand", do follow the Von Willegen blog: http://vonwillegen.blogspot.com/

Although I cannot sit back and look at this year with any sense of satisfaction (I can always do better), there have been some exciting achievements.

My husband's indie filmmaking is really taking off. BlackMilk Productions walked off with the award of "Best Local Short" at this year's SA HorrorFest. We're awaiting (with bated breath) the results for the Auteur awards happening at the start of December. They've been invited to screen some of their films at the Cult event happening in Johannesburg this weekend.

Although I've suffered a personal tragedy in one of my best friends passing away, I've nonetheless had the opportunity to say goodbye to dear Shaen, who was like a brother to me considering my own dysfunctional relations with with whom I share DNA. As an aside, Shaen was one of the people who influenced the conceptualising of South Africa's "wickedest" man.

But, back to the writing...

My next romance novel, Hell's Music, is currently under consideration with a publisher. I'm also meeting with a literary agent in December (in South Africa, yes, I know) and, although I don't expect representation (ever the experienced optimist) I'm very interested to hear what she has to say about my steampunk novel, The Black Goat, and how I can improve it. I've yet to put that one on the submissions mill and am planning extensive revisions during the festive season. But I've had a very positive response from a well-known South African author who absolutely loved it, so I know it can't be completely rotten.

And, lastly, my paranormal sort-of romance novella, The Namaqualand Book of the Dead, is now in its final editing stages. Busy finishing a last round of post-line edits and, after that, galley. This releases in April through Lyrical Press.

On top of that, I'm busy with the first draft of another paranormal romance-ish yarn (with fang), entitled What Sweet Music They Make. I promise that my vampires don't sparkle, and hark back more to a mix between Lost Boys-style combined with vintage Anne Rice. (With only a dash of wangst, okay?)

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Mind Behind Coercion, Lux Zakari

Today I welcome author Lux Zakari to my world, to share a bit about her latest release.

Tell us about your latest release and who you think would enjoy it.

Coercion, my first novel, is classic in theme: a good girl choosing the wrong boy to love. Here’s the scoop:

Introverted and insecure Valerie Mercer was promised that during her senior year of college she would finally attract attention from boys…but never dreamed that would include Michael Vartanian.

Good looking, troubled and every parent’s nightmare, Michael is adamant on introducing Valerie to a world of both pleasure and, inadvertently, heartbreak. His interest in Valerie is dependent upon the mood and fidelity of his on-and-off-again girlfriend, Breeze.

Nevertheless, Valerie lets her hope and desire override common sense and soon finds she can’t deny Michael anything…no matter what’s at stake.

Considering its graphic sexual nature, it definitely should appeal to fans of erotica, although I believe the readers who will enjoy it most are those looking for a sexy, intelligent story and who can love a character despite his or her faults.

Is there a defining moment or a gradual creeping-up-on-author situation that led to the story?

I wrote a blog post titled “How to Write Coercion,” which details a few bulleted circumstances that led to the creation of the story. Ultimately, I’d really wanted to write a girl-tempted-by-the-bad-boy scenario, and I’d been romanticizing the ‘70s at the time NaNoWriMo 2007 rolled around, so I just went with it!

If you could pick any place to live, where would that be and why?

I’d love to live near the beach; I crave a laidback, sunny environment. Writing on the sand and smelling like coconut suntan oil every day sounds ideal!

Tell us a bit about your writing process.

The writing process happens whenever a) I get the chance, and b) I get inspired! I’m fueled by my muse—guilt—if I’m not writing, so I often ensure that I motivate myself and make the time to bang out at least something on a regular basis.

Who are the three authors you keep returning to? What is it about their writing that draws you in?

I will always love Nick Hornby; his insight on relationships is usually funny, moving and true, and I’m easily wooed by his pop culture references, so naturally I enjoy Rob Sheffield’s work as well. I also devoured Barry Lyga’s Boy Toy; it was completely captivating.

If you had to pick two celebrities for your main characters, who would you cast for the film?

This is a brilliant question, and something I think about all the time. My characters are in their early twenties, and sometimes I struggle to think of age-appropriate actors who aren’t on Gossip Girl and the like. Needless to say, I still haven’t made a concrete decision yet! I would be down for discovering newbies to the acting biz.

Are there any up-and-coming authors readers should look out for?

I’m really excited about Grace Cox’s next book, Seduced by the Playboy Heir, a contemporary romance that will be released in 2011. Not only is it sexy, but the characters are believable, as is their entire relationship, which is rife with flaws and difficulties that go beyond things like an absurd misunderstanding or the heroine’s body images. I love stories when the characters can legitimately screw up and still wind up happy in the end.

You also edit fiction. Do you have advice for anyone considering this as a career choice?

I think there are some basic common-sense guidelines when it comes to editing. For one, an editor needs to have a fundamental idea of what a book looks like! As a kid, I would go all OCD when I wrote stories by formatting them to look like an actual, published book, so I’m stunned by writers who don’t know when to throw in a paragraph break, use proper punctuation and so on. If you want to be an editor, that’s crucial. Grabbing a copy of the Chicago Manual of Style, the AP Stylebook, et cetera will help keep an editor informed all throughout his or her career.

Secondly, an editor-to-be needs to know what makes for a good story, be able to pick out plot holes and have an imagination on how a work can be improved upon, if only to jumpstart the author’s own creativity. I also think it helps if an editor writes him- or herself; it gives the editor more empathy for the writer, having been on the other side of things.

Care to share a little about your current WiP?

It’s already November, and I still have yet to pick a plot premise for NaNoWriMo, so that’s on the agenda!

I’m just about done with the finishing touches on a novel—a racy, unconventional love story about a self-absorbed, hedonistic ex-celebrity who, upon the death of her former lover, learns she’s been inexplicably named the guardian of his three children. Being herded into the parental role forces the protagonist to finally face the truth about the cruel decisions of her wild past, her now uncertain future and her secret, turbulent relationship with a man who, even in death, continues to upend her world. Here’s hoping the story has a successful future!

In the meantime, readers can check out my short story, Truss Issues, in Best Bondage Erotica 2011 – coming soon!

Useful links:

The book trailer for Coercion can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wVXW6xBdH0.

My website is www.luxzakari.com, and from there readers can find me on Facebook, MySpace, GoodReads and so on!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Regression News

And, a little bit of news from my side. Just returned from a short trip up to Zambia to be dumped in the thick of things for the tail-end of the SA HORRORFEST, so I'm pretty tapped out until the end of the weekend. Just thought I'd share the success, since Regression has won the award for the "Best Local Short" for the 2010 SA HORRORFEST short film competition.

I hope to regain some semblance of normality from here on in until the BlackMilk crew shoots up to Johannesburg for the first-ever screenings on the other side of the Vaal River. As always, the crew keep me out of mischief, as chief sandwich-maker, bloodstain remover and writer of promotional stuffies.

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Regression, a BlackMilk Productions short horror film, won the award for “Best Local Short” at the 2010 SA HORRORFEST, one of the only local conventions supporting fringe arts culture in South Africa.

Said SA HORRORFEST organiser Paul Blom: “Each year the local short entries fluctuate – one year better, another less so; one year loads of entries, another just a handful. We want to spread the word that there is a legitimate and internationally recognised platform in the SA HORRORFEST to screen these movies, and lead to generating a huge stream of regular and high-quality short films, thus playing a role in developing an alternative film culture in SA diverting from all the obvious themes and styles.”

Ecstatic about this year’s win, BlackMilk co-director and co-scriptwriter Thomas Dorman added: “Competition was tough this year. I was massively impressed by the South African contribution to the SA HORRORFEST. Most of them stood heads above last year’s competitors and even gave the foreign short films a run for their money. The runner-up’s movie Kult Without a Name really stood out from the rest and I’m really looking forward to meeting the director in Johannesberg, where a joint screening of most of the BlackMilk films will take place on November 27 at CCHQ.”

When asked what made Regression this year’s winning local entrant, BlackMilk co-director and co-scriptwriter Ronnie Belcher said: “Regression is visually amazing, with eerie and epic sound design, and absolutely amazing performances by the cast. The brilliant art direction and production design also added to the surreal environment we needed. We also had a stunning crew that helped us create this. As with all BlackMilk films, we tell ‘normal’ stories in an ‘abnormal’ way, and I think this added to the success.”

See the SA HorrorFest website at www.horrorfest.info
Follow the BlackMilk Productions blog at www.blackmilkproductions.blogspot.com

Monday, November 1, 2010

On the banks of the Great Zambezi

I have to admit it, when our 1time flight started the descent and we flew over the Victoria Falls, I got a bit teary-eyed. I'm in Africa now, I couldn't help but think, though that's a bit rich coming from me since I'm an African. Cape Town seems to exist in its own bubble and I've always maintained the Mother City isn't Africa.

At time of blogging, we've just had breakfast on the deck of the Royal Chundu Zambezi River Lodge. We look out over the mighty river, its waters a ochre-cobalt, for lack of better description, at the riverine acacia forests in Zimbabwe across the way. Last night we went on a river cruise, not expecting to see much but our sightings included about a dozen elephant, countless birds (including endangered African skimmers, open-billed storks, African fish eagles, giant kingfishers, giant egrets and more). A lazy crocodile basked with his maw gaping. A monitor crawled with his peculiar reptilian sway through the long grass. Broad-billed rollers scolded in the waterberries.

Warthogs came down to graze on the flood plain where the grass is greenest, chacma baboons keeping out a sharp eye for predators while bushbuck warily picked their way to the water's edge. Kudu, the grey ghosts of the bushveld, remained in the thorny thickets... The lodge doesn't bill its activities as Big Five adventures but hell, this place is teaming with wildlife.

Life of the insect kind is in abundance. Lodge manager Werner told me the kamakazi hawk moths are called pismotte (too rude for me to translate into English) but after the nth moth tried to adhere to my hair or vanish down the front of my top, I stated losing interest in this phenomenon and started seeing the insects for their nuisance value.

The tree frog that had staked out the top of a picture frame in the large, open-air lounge was a cause for fascination. He stared at me with his bug-eyes and gulped wetly, obviously on the lookout for mozzies.

Ah, yes... the mozzies. Stocked up on anti-Malaria pills (yay for nausea) we were nonetheless grateful for the mosquito net covering our bed.

This morning while enjoying my coffee on the deck, I found a huge, delicate moth that looks like a dried leaf when its wings are closed.

Bulbuls scolded me this morning while I walked to the lounge area. Saw yellowbellied bulbuls as well as the black-eyed kind. Birdwatcher's paradise indeed.

Last night during the boma dinner, some of the orphaned kids from the neighbouring village performed their dances for us. Much less aggressive (and far more sensual) than South African Zulu or Xhosa dancing, these youngsters almost made me blush. But mutual love seems a bigger item on the agenda between Zambia's many tribes, who appear to do a better job of getting on with each other than the South Africans. We could take a leaf from their book.

Just to make you jealous, our activities for today include a visit to the local village, a canoeing expedition down the Zambezi rapids (I'm crazy but I'm going to do this thing) and a fishing trip. I'm planning on catching a feared tiger fish.

A nice touch last night was the huge bunch of roses that appeared in our chalet. Thomas and I are celebrating our 10th anniversary and as luck would have this visit happening at the same time. Another small touch that made me smile was that management found me a tiny bone carving of Nyami-Nyami, the ancient Zambezi river god, who has a head like a fish and the body of a snake.

It's doubtful whether we'll have internet connection before we return to SA as tonight we're sleeping at a private island covered in baobabs and ancient jackalberry trees. For now I'm just smiling and enjoying the breeze cooling the air off the mighty Zambezi.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

New review for Khepera Rising

What a nice way to start my brief bit of time off: a four-tombstone review for Khepera Rising at Bitten by Books.

The reviewer had this to say: Jamie is the anti-hero: he’s rude, crude, obnoxious and yet the whole time I was reading this story I was cheering for this guy because for every nasty act he committed, he would demonstrate some kindly deed, sometimes for people he knew well but more often for others he either hardly knew or despised.

Read the full review here: http://bittenbybooks.com/?p=23785

Other than that, I'm enjoying my Halloween immensely. Today is a Type O Negative day in memory of Peter Steele, so I'm driving my poor husband a bit nuts going through my playlist but hell, if he constantly makes me listen to Foetus, Steroid Maximus and Manorexia, I can have a bit of my own back sometimes. Tonight I shall lift a glass of red wine in memory to the Green Man.

Last night we were hanging out with the Vesparados at their clubhouse in Culemborg. They're awesome, a Vespa scooter club who make the Hell's Angels look like a pack of sissies. Besides, how many Hell's Angels will ramp their choppers through a ring of fire? Some of the BlackMilk crew were there and we were messing around filming zombie attacks for a short film they're putting together. I donned the corpse paint and joined in the fun. This seems to be the only role I end up taking in the films they make. Says something about me, doesn't it?

Other than that, I'm off to Zambia for a few days to review a game lodge near Livingstone. This is very exciting as it's been about a year since I last travelled out of the country. And, it's one of the few benefits of working in a demanding newspaper publishing environment. Although I won't have access to the internet, I will prepare some blogs to share the adventure.

I've been thinking long and hard about my role as fiction editor. I see that the local editors sometimes get a bit of a raw deal with the publishers not paying on time or just not paying enough. Which makes me think about my position as content editor for a small press in the US. I work for royalties, so if my author does well, so do I. Which kind of puts the pressure on for me to acquire authors who'll sell within the epublishing situation.

I edit fiction because I enjoy seeing authors gain confidence within their chosen genres. Even better is when those four- and five-star reviews start piling up, and this past week has seen a number of my authors gain stellar reviews with well-known review sites. This is the best thank you for me. Even better is when my authors submit their next work for consideration and I can see a visible improvement in their work. Although it's nice seeing that royalty statement at the end of each month, reader feedback is often the most tangible evidence that we're getting something right.

So, what sells? Romance and erotica. Horror and science fiction are taking a bit of a raw deal at the moment but the only advice I have for authors in these genres is to carry on writing and getting published through the platforms that are available. This also means a helluva lot more shameless self-promotion.

My first published novels fall within the horror genre but I'm now looking at rather restructuring my writing to market through the urban fantasy genre, which does sell better. This does mean upping the romantic/erotic content but, since I've started doing this anyway about a year or so ago, it's not really an issue for me.

Another option open to authors who are epublished is to hold onto their printing rights then self-publish through programmes such as Amazon's CreateSpace. The benefit of this is that your books are available in print and electronic versions, and it's a bit better than having self-published a work in its entirety, since you have the credits of releasing first electronically through an established press.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Cape Town: Khepera Rising give-aways

Well, I’ve definitely got something got something to blog about during the frenetic run-up to the end of the year. My books arrived in the mail today, pristine copies of Khepera Rising, fresh from the printers. And, guess what? To celebrate Halloween, I’m giving three copies away at events occurring in Cape Town during the next few weeks.

First up is the second Bloody Parchment event, once again hosted under the auspices of the SA HorrorFest at the Book Lounge, one of Cape Town’s hippest, happening literary destinations, on October 27. Some of Cape Town’s authors, including big names such as Sarah Lotz, Maya Fowler and SA Partridge, among others, will offer Halloween-themed readings, with prizes for the best-dressed. And, after I scare myself half to death reading a passage from Khepera Rising, I’ll give away a signed copy to the audience member whose costume catches my eye. For more information, see: http://bloodyparchment.blogspot.com/

Next up on the agenda is the SA HorrorFest, which fully gets into the swing of things as of October 28. Now in its sixth year, it is South Africa’s only dedicated horror-themed festival, offering horror buffs a ghoulish feast of film and music. A signed copy of Khepera Rising is finding its way into the organisers’ hands, and they’ll spread my speshul brand of darkness. For more information, see: http://www.horrorfest.info/

Perhaps not linked to a Halloween theme but nonetheless a very worthy cause I’m thrilled to be supporting, is this year’s Lovecats event, an evening of live music geared toward raising funds for one of my favourite charities, TEARS. Because animals often don’t have a voice in our society, speaking for those who can’t is one of my primary concerns. And, because I believe our sentient brothers and sisters of other species deserve all the help they can get, I’ve done my bit by offering a signed copy of Khepera Rising as a prize, to be handed out on the night of the event. See the following links: http://www.tears.org.za/ and http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=161794403837977

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One of the questions I hear often is: Where can I buy your books? It’s simple. Run a search at www.amazon.com or, if you’re South African, www.kalahari.net. Alternatively, if you’re in the mood for saving trees, invest in an electronic copy and feel all warm and fuzzy knowing you’re supporting South African genre fiction.

Read more about Khepera Rising here: http://tinyurl.com/2v2gbut

Jamie will be absolutely delighted to make your acquaintance and, I can assure you, the print quality is fang-tastic!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Screaming Yellow with Rachel Green

When I was offered the opportunity to work on Rachel Green's Screaming Yellow, I jumped at the chance. Nominally playing fly-on-the-wall in and around Cape Town's BDSM and fetish scene, and being privileged to be on first-name basis with some of our city's more interesting personalities, I looked forward to working on fiction offering themes I'm familiar with. On top of that, who can resist the unholy alliance of a witch teaming up with a Catholic priest to solve a murder?

What I've enjoyed about Rachel's setting is how well realised not only the place is – true British eccentricity and charm all rolled into one – but the characters. Although everything about Laverstone is fictional, it still had me hitting Google. It just has to be real, I told myself.

Screaming Yellow is a novel I can fully recommend. Even though, as editor, I've lost count of how many times I've read through it, I always find some other small detail to have a quiet chuckle about, passages where the author paints characters or bits of dialogue that remain with me. Who'd have thought a small town could play host to a gloriously decadent cast of characters, where a bit of bondage, needle play and polyamory are the order of the day?

So, without further ado, I welcome Rachel to my world, to share a little about hers.

Why Laverstone? Tell us about your town.

Laverstone has been building, location by location, for the last six or seven years. It is a small (fictional) town in the south of England, bordered on the east by a range of hills and in the north by the M4 motorway. To the west and south are chalk downs. It first came into being as the setting for my novel, An Ungodly Child, and has grown slowly every time I add another tale to the mythos. Laverstone is a sort of Glastonbury without the head shops.

Have you had any real-life experiences creep into your writing?

Always. The kinky sections of Screaming Yellow were all based on personal experience and expertise, as was the polyamory and the social mechanics of The Larches. I've written non-fiction about BDSM and my partners and I have taught workshops on techniques. In the other books the fight and sword scenes are all as realistic as I can make them. I am a trained swordswoman and practice jiu-jitsu and budo. The dogs are used to me choreographing scenes with sword or werewolf-repellent silver-topped cane.

Which one of your characters would you have high tea with, and what would you discuss with them... Or do with them?

High tea? There's a phrase I haven't heard since childhood. My first answer is Jasfoup, of course, and I would discuss the nature of Fallen Angels with him, but he only has a bit part in Screaming Yellow so I'd pick Inspector White and take him to the Philadelphia on Old Oxford Street, a little past Meinwen's witchery shop on Knifesgate. He must have some tales to tell, don't you think?

Who are your favourite authors and what is it about their writing that excites you?

Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaimen are, in my opinion, the finest humorists in print. There isn't a book of theirs I don't pre-order as soon as I can. I've learned a great deal from them both in terms of character, pace and setting.

Iain Banks and Kate Atkinson share similar fields of excellence in their writing. Characters and attention to detail within individual lines. These people don't just write, they compose.

Finally, Agatha Christie. What a marvellous lady. I'd read everything by her by the time I was 12. From her I got the love of the mystery, the chase, the clue and the sheer delight in (literary) murder. Miss Marple is lauded in Screaming Yellow, and Laverstone boasts a public building named in her honour.

What sparked off
Screaming Yellow? Was it an a-ha moment or a concept that slowly crept up on you?

It began as an attempt to write a non-paranormal novel. Laverstone is full of ordinary people and I wanted to reflect this in a way that would appeal to those with no interest in demons and vampires. I was also fed up with the way BDSM is portrayed in literature as a bad thing – an immoral, "sinful" pleasure that should be punished. I wanted to show it in a positive light and highlight the love between dominant and submissive personalities. It amused me to have a Catholic priest as a main character. I was raised Catholic.

I also wrote the first draft in a month and asked some friends in the scene to look it over. They seemed happy with it and so I tried to place it. It sat for a few years until a publisher was interested "if I took out all the BDSM". I did but they wanted me to take out the polyamory too, which was integral to the plot. Fortunately, Lyrical Press liked all the sex.

Tell us more about your creative process. Where do you work? Are there any good habits for writers?

I write at home, on a desktop PC and start every day with a series of four poems – a cinquain, a haiku, a takna and a Fib – which I post on my livejournal (friends only but happy to add readers). I catch up online (newspapers and blogs) and write 2-500 words on an ongoing novel at jasfoup.blogspot.com. Later in the day I post a long-form poem (I send these to magazines and anthologies and occasionally publish a chap book) and write for whatever short story or novel I'm currently working on. I walk my dogs and pet my family often. My tip for writing is to have a hobby that's not writing.

Useful links:

My homepage (also includes artwork) http://www.leatherdyke.co.uk/
My Amazon Page: http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B0043VKG6U
My livejournal: http://leatherdykeuk.livejournal.com/
Jasfoup's Blog: http://jasfoup.blogspot.com/

Friday, October 8, 2010

Basking in the Creepy Green Light

October is an apt month, if any, to write a tribute to a man and his music. Peter Steele, bassist and front-man for gothic metal band Type O Negative, passed on April 14 this year, about six months ago, and it’s taken me all this time to consider exactly how iconic he was, and also just what I wanted to share about what he meant to me.

Those of us who listen to music will always have bands or musicians who are “it” musicians, who sum up an era or a state of mind perfectly. And, while I’ve had an affection for assorted gothic, electro and industrial initiatives since I got over my unfortunate mainstream affliction at the tender age of fifteen (I blame Trent Reznor for this), Type O Negative has always been one of those bands that lurked on the edges of my awareness.

I had a deprived childhood. I grew up during the time when the great World Wide Web was only beginning to put in an appearance in South Africa during the early to mid-1990s. Mandela and De Klerk had just brought our country back from the edge of a bloody civil war and, to put it mildly, years of socio-economic sanctions had us living in a bit of a cultural backwater. Sure, we had some idea about popular culture but pity us alternatives who really had to struggle to find out about new trends.

Hell, the music we were dancing to in our dark, dank alternative clubs was sometimes a decade or more out of date. Not that we cared. It was still better than grooving to the dreck they were airing on radio. Bela Lugosi is dead So what? Too young to have seen the likes of South Africa’s No Friends of Harry live on stage, take LSD at The Stage or lurk in corners at The Playground, I nonetheless grasped at whatever hints of alternative culture came my way, usually in the form of recordings of recordings of recordings of some obscure band (can anyone say Marilyn Manson?) or hours poring over foreign music magazines bought at the local “books per kilo” store.

As my friend Tracey commented to me today on the train, “You missed out on the best times.”


The alternative kids at my high school banded together, whether they were hippie, goth or rasta, spending break times in the quad bragging about various feats of sheer teenage stupidity and generally looking down on the sporty or nerdy types. Me? I was a nerdy type who’d lost interest in being the good girl after two particular bad years in hospital where I’d nearly croaked it. A near-cancer experience after a burst appendix kinda readjusts your outlook on life.

I kept asking myself: there must be more to life than growing up, marrying some doctor or engineer and breeding more little white middle class suburban punks. That’s more or less the time Nine Inch Nails came out with The Downward Spiral, signalling my own, personal descent into the darkness, from whence I’ve never quite re-emerged. Not that I’m complaining, mind you. I never did quite like going out into the sunlight. Skin cancer, UV rays an’ all.

And, before you say it, yes, I’m that old.

I remember the day I encountered Type O Negative quite clearly. I was in my final year of high school that year and a friend of mine had given me a copy of an Alternative Press magazine featuring none other than Pete on the front cover dressed in a cupid outfit and very little else. But it was his eyes that got to me. Something about the eyes. Who the hell was this man? Did he find his way onto my bedroom walls and high school diary? Hell yeah!

Granted, pathetic little munchkin that I was, I only got to hear my first sample of Type O Negative about a year later when I scored a copy of ToN’s Slow, Deep and Hard. I’ll be perfectly honest. The music didn’t quite match up to what I expected the man to sound like. But I gave it a good few more listens and the music started growing on me.

“There’s something there,” I mused. “There’s something about this music I could really grow to love.”

The first Type O Negative album I bought was October Rust, and I remember hating reaching the end of the disc and wishing there was more where Haunted came from. Many late nights in my parents house, wondering what on earth was to become of me... That album is an anthem for that time of wondering.

But sadly I wasn’t ever able to kindle a full appreciation of ToN’s music. I dated some sad gothboy who didn’t approve of my musical inclinations (no more ToN, okay?). Granted, I got into Bauhaus, The Cure, Siouxsie and a bunch of other bands I’d never have listened to otherwise. (Music at least ten years out of date, hey.) Then I completed my tertiary education, got a job, bought a house.

Yeah, the whole white suburban middle class punk thing kind of happened anyway. I’m thirty-two now but thank freck I’ve something to show for the crazy-arse kid I used to be. I’ve written two novels, sold others, and I’ve lost track of how many others I’ve completed. I’m finally living one of the dreams I set for myself. Granted, I no longer play in bands but I still have my bass. I’ve recaptured some of that madness I had when I was seventeen.

And by freck, I’m glad I’ve not bred. I don’t have that hanging around my neck. I do have a husband but I’m happy he doesn’t force me to do anything I don’t want to. I can still let my hair down and plug into that current that drove me all those years ago. Because you know what? I’ve found it again. It never went away. It was just mired in more than a decade of trying to live life according to society’s rules.

So I’ll remember Peter Steele. I’ll remember what his music represents, which is a big “eff you” to the rest of the world. I’ll live my life according to my rules and screw everyone else. I’ll have no regrets.

Hey Pete. wherever you are, thank you.

You suck!

And while I live and breathe, I will speak your name and drink a glass of red wine for you on Halloween each year. Your music has always been there, a spirit of the age to which I belong. I never even conceived your time would come to an end so soon.

That’s the problem, we still believe we’re immortal.

It would be nice to close with something intellectual, but at heart I’m just a thug.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Crawling out from beneath the woodwork

At the moment it feels like I’ve been very busy but there are many projects still up in the air so I don’t really want to make mention of them until they’re finalised.

On the editing front things have been great, I’ve been working hard with my current batch of authors and am glad to see how some of the manuscripts have evolved to the point where they’re ready for the final stages of production. Authors are sometimes daunted by the amount of work that goes into their edits but what I tell them is simple: “You can never edit enough.” Every manuscript I take on receives a preliminary read-through before I offer my recommendation and a contract is mailed. After that, I ask most first-time authors to revise according to a checklist that catches the most common gremlins. My veterans mercifully figure out their gremlins and catch them before submission, so unless something is drastically wrong, that step can be skipped. Two rounds of content edits usually follow. I read the manuscript through from beginning to end each time.

I sometimes even complete a third round. Yes, that’s me reading the same novel four times in the space of a few months. After that the manuscript goes through to a line editor who catches anything I may have overlooked and **gasp** I read through the entire novel again after the line edits. Yes, dear authors, by the time I’m done with your novel, I’ve read it five or six times. So please return the favour by reading through your galley once or twice and really looking for gremlins. That’s after you’ve paid attention to my editorial requests. Yes, I know they’re requests and require you to change your precious words, but it’s because I’m investing my time and interest in your work, to both our benefit.

Reading… I think it’s quite clear I don’t get much time to read for pleasure, but I have been enjoying reviewing for the newspapers again. There aren’t a lot of reviewers who handle the fantasy and science fiction releases, which I’m more than happy to take on. This is a great way to read new books without paying for them while also getting my name “out there”. **waves nebulously in the air**

I must gush about Giles Kristian, whose Lords of Thunder I’m reviewing at present. His combat sequences leave me breathless and I reckon he’s got a handle on pre-Christian Scandinavian cultures and then some.

My writing’s going well. I don’t have another release until December, when Tainted Love (written as Therése von Willegen) hits the vendors, but I’ve completed my next erotic romance, Hell’s Music, which is sitting with a trusted beta reader, and I’m revising The Black Goat, a sort-of steampunk colonial-era fantasy involving a shipwrecked botanist-turned-vampire. Please don’t ask me where I got the inspiration for that one. I still don’t know but it seemed like a good idea at the time.

As always, I’ve been helping behind the scenes with BlackMilk Productions’ assorted short indie film projects. We’ve had a very busy past few months since completing post-production on Regression, and the boys and gals have been at it to wrap The Lovers, which is showing at Shortcut #6 on October 19. I’m not quite sure what my “official” designation is, because I do everything from running to helping pack up the set or removing fake blood stains. Oh, and sometimes writing press releases or sourcing poets. Or make sandwiches. Odd little things, I know, but it makes me warm and fuzzy when I see my name in the credits under “special thanks”.

One thing I’ve learnt: there’s no such thing as “let’s make a quick movie”. Oh, and it’s never cheap, either.

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Attention authors:

I’m always on the look-out for new authors. If you have a novella or story you think may interest me, please take a look at the Lyrical Press website (www.lyricalpress.com) to check the publisher’s submissions guidelines and mail me at nerine@lyricalpress.com

Some of my favourite authors include Storm Constantine, Jacqueline Carey, Neil Gaiman and Poppy Z Brite. Although I’m not restricted by genre, I prefer works of fantasy (urban or epic) and horror. I will consider well-written erotica and some science fiction (but please, no colonisation efforts to Mars where Earth is conveniently wiped out by falling debris, okay?).

Friday, September 10, 2010

Big Green Monster update

Pictured above, me an' the Big Green Monster.

Finally! We have extricated our serial number and model number from the chap who's currently holding onto our 1949 Hudson Six. The Big Green Monster is with a mechanic a whole lot closer to town than the previous chap, who operated out of Brackenfell and did a great job, but it was not so easy to keep tabs on the work.

A close friend of ours works literally around the corner from the mechanic, so it's convenient for us to get L to pop in from time to time to check on the vehicle. (Thank you, L!)
The Big Green Monster was last driven in 1972, when she was deregistered and spent the next 30-odd years in the backyard of some guy up in Roodepoort. Rats were nesting inside her. It was quite a drama to get her down to Cape Town as finding a company that could handle non-driveable cars was something else. That cost quite a bit but we reckon we were lucky buying our Hudson for just under R20 000. Apparently you're lucky if you find them for under R100 000 in the condition that ours is in.
After being schnaaied to the tune of R10 000 by some douche in Strand, who has since then skipped the country with our money after his business went belly-up, we've had a better experience with the mechanics we've chosen. We're committed now to finish the job.

So far we've rewired her, which has been the most expensive process so far. The brakes and brake lines have been repaired. She's got a new radiator (cannibalised from an old Chev, I think) and we've fixed her water pump (that had to be sent away). The engine has been cleaned and serviced as well. She has a bit of a drinking problem, but we'll worry about fuel once she's able to hit the road.

We bought her new tyres, which we got second hand off an old Jaguar (the girl has style, I tell you).

Our next big push is to fix her gear box, which has rusted through. The previous owner apparently welded the gear box to the rest of the car using chains... So that needs repairs. Parts alone for this next stint will cost R7 000, for which we've put a part payment down on so far. There are other bits and bobs that need fixing along with the gear box.

I've got to take on the next step, which is finding a new windshield. This will be a problem, and we'll most likely have to import from either the States or Canada, it would seem. With the windshield comes the rubbers to hold the glass in place: $$$.

Legally now we need to get the ball rolling with proof that this car exists, 'cos currently, as far as the world is concerned, she's a big lump of metal. Tonight we're going down to the police station so my husband can sign an affidavit stating where he purchased the car and that he swears it's his.

One day, far in the future, we'll have to get an RPC form from City of Cape Town, which will allow us to drive the car for three days. We then have to take her through to the licencing centre in Stikland, where she will undergo a roadworthy and, if we're lucky, be cleared.

This clearance certificate then goes back to City of Cape Town and the car gets registered. Talk about jumping through hoops.

All this is still in the very distant future. We still have to take care of the rust and get the car resprayed, or at least do something to halt the spread of rust and fix the worst patches so we can get her through the roadworthy text looking like a ratrod, which is also not such a bad thing.
We're not even anywhere near talking upholstery and fittings yet.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Leon Botha: artist

Some folk reading this blog may already know Leon Botha, who featured in Die Antwoord’s music video Enter the Ninja. I first encountered him on that social networking site we all love to hate but can’t seem to stay the hell away from, when I saw some of the enigmatic art he creates.

When Leon and I started chatting, we fast realised we had a lot in common with regard to some of our interests and, how’s this for a piece of synchronicity, we both had almost-identical tattoos completed independently within weeks of each other, at the same tattoo parlour. While I sport the Egyptian Neteru Set and Horus on my left and right wrists respectively, Leon has paid homage to Thoth.

Not long ago, Capetonians could also view another aspect of Leon’s art, when he collaborated with South African photographer Gordon Clark to present the Who Am I? exhibition, which challenged people to examine the perceptions, preconceptions and values.

I’d like to thank Leon Botha for stopping by my blog and share some of his thoughts.

Tell me more about your creative process and how you approach painting.
It depends… Generally I mostly live in my head. I am always drawing parallels between things in my head, working on some concept or interpreting some thought or feeling I get from anything such as music, books or some other experience, visually. (It’s not really as exciting as it sounds, it’s just how my mind works.) Usually, at some point I would deem any one of them ready, and I will attempt to “bring it” into this realm. As I’m doing this, of course it takes on a life of itself as it suddenly needs to abide to certain laws, and the difficulty for me is usually to shape it into a compromise. It can be very frustrating, but it is also why I don’t plan things or draw them out too thoroughly beforehand.

I can also simply desire to use a specific colour, subject or theme, and will just flow with it.
Technically, I use a lot of strong colours, as well as darkness, sharp lines and many layers as a sort of “dry brush” technique. So acrylics work fine for me because it’s so quick drying. I mostly use canvas, and generally don’t do any drawings beforehand.

So, when and where did you meet Gordon Clark?
He saw me in town and wanted to work with me, but somehow lost sight of me. Later he mentioned me to a friend who is a curator of a gallery in town. Ironically I was about to open my second solo exhibition there and she gave him my details and we set up a meeting.

What went into the creative process for the Who Am I? exhibition?
A lot of conversations… We generally had a similar idea as far as direction, in which we wanted to go, and we just pulled a whole lot of ideas from conversations regarding all aspects of life.

Sometimes, adapting the idea, and sometimes coming up with new ones while working on location. We were not restricted or limiting ourselves in any case. So the whole flow or creative process went very harmoniously.

What do you like about hip hop?
It is kind of like the melting pot of all music genres. It is not limited in scope, and in its essence, not really a genre at all.

It is as much a question as a definition.

Although my musical taste is certainly not limited to it, it has the certain “edge” of all other music that I enjoy.

As I say, it is not just a genre of music, but a way of life, a certain edge, attitude and way to view the world, which opened my perception to a lot of things, and influenced practically everything that I do.

And Die Antwoord? What have some of the after-effects of Enter the Ninja been?
Locally people seem to remember me from “that video”, and globally there has been a rise of interest to me/my work online. I have sold a few paintings overseas since then, as well.

Tell us a little about what you’re reading at the moment.
I’ve been reading a lot about Alchemy in the last years. The symbols and archetypes, and how the relativity of reality (our perception) can always be used in a way that “purifies” our thoughts, or enables us to grow as individuals (however one may see this). And not to see things as simply “good” or “bad”, “yin” or “yang”, but to merge them. To over-stand that our greatest blessing, is often inherited in what we perceived to be our greatest curse.

How do you approach time?
I try to grab it with both hands. So much, to the extend that I always go to bed way into the AM, and as the pendulum swings, I wake up way too late as well. (I will never be bored, and honestly don’t understand how one can claim to be that in this day and age).

All there ever is, or will be, is the present moment. Whenever I am able to really be aware of this, I am harmonious. And whenever I am not, I am only on my way to realise it again. There is nowhere else to go… The past was once the future, and the future will at once be the past. And while the transition happens in this moment, it is way too quickly to fully embrace or define anyway. This is why time is an illusion. I try to be less logical in my approach, and more receptive or acting on feeling, because things seem to be speeding up more and more to me, and I can’t keep up.

What, in your opinion, is the most important aspect of being human?
I think the ability to interpret our thoughts and experiences in such a way that it adds things like meaning, value, purpose, etc. and that we continue to evolve or grow in our interpretations of these. It enables us to always expand our universe, both inner and outer. We can always look forward to something exciting, as the ratio between our questions and answers continue to evolve (and in essence provide for itself) as we seek and find, into the beautiful mystery that is life. Yeah, life is beautiful when I stay in its mystery as oppose to it’s “know” –ledge.

Useful links:

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Nerine Dorman' s blogging news...

Book one and two of my Khepera series are now available IN PRINT, in South Africa. No excuses about not reading on screen. Support a starving author so she can create more mayhem as a full-time occupation.

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Call for submissions. I'm currently on the prowl for fiction across all genres for a Titanic-inspired line of novellas and novels. See the link below for further information.

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And, if you reckon you've got what it takes to write a good horror or dark fantasy short story, we'd like to hear about it for the SA HORRORFEST's Bloody Parchment short fiction competition. Details here: http://bloodyparchment.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Goths on Safari: Day two

Received our wake-up call at 6.30pm this morning but the husband was suffering from the start of one of his infamous migraines again, so I abandoned him, had breakfast and joined the early morning game drive and an exciting but fruitless hunt for the lions, who'd decided to go to ground in a river bed.

And wow, what a morning, a rare spittling of rain pin-pricking my face as it can only in the Karoo, the mist shrouding the koppies and making everything mysterious. A good catch was the pale chanting goshawk, a raptor that appears to be very much in evidence here.

All I saw of Harry the hippo was a bit of his snoot and twitchy ears as he regarded us from his pond. No showing off for the vehicle today. But we did see elephant, a whole herd of them, which was a good sighting as they demolished the acacia thickets. As well as the three-month old baby ellie who gambolled a bit.

Enjoyed views across the valley with hot chocolate and very nommy home-baked biscuits before we made serious inroads hunting the lion. You'd think finding white lions is a fairly easy business since they're white. Well, more off-white, really. They're just tawny sans the pigment in the fur and they do a bloody good job blending in with the vegetation.

Back at the lodge to collect Thomas, we were then whisked off by Trevor to view the other accommodation offerings, which includes Gondwana, which is the more relaxed family lodge and Tilney, which has a more colonial air to it. Very pretty overlooking the Warmwaterberg but I must admit, I'm totally sold on Dwyka's tents.

Sighting of this drive: African wild cat at Tilney. I've never seen one in the wild so this was a first for me.

On the way back along the dry river bed, Trevor stopped so that Thomas and I could see one of the rock art sites. This area is not as rich in paintings as the Cederberg but a casual search on the ground provided me with numerous artifacts (which I left behind like a good little archaeologically conscious individual). I was particularly blown away by the profusion of Aloe mitriformis and Thomas made a good spotting of a type of Haworthia clump in a crevasse.

Next sighting: A herd of ten kudu right by the side of the road. Magnificent!

No sooner had we eaten a divine lunch (springbok carpaccio; potato with blue cheese dressing and skinny fries) washed down once again with La Motte Sauvignon Blanc, we were off again, this time on Trevor's next trip out to hunt lions.

Yes, we saw the white rhinos are called here but we drove right into a journey of about 13 giraffe, who regarded us with great interest while we watched them browse.

Then, off hunting lion and, this time we got to see the male white lion's rump as he lounged under a bush. He lay there and lay there doing absolutely nothing with Trevor assuring us the others weren't far away. Of course, when lions don't want to be found, there's not much you can do about it and you're certainly not going to climb out of the Landy to go look for them.

Enter Mr Jackal, who'd figured out the lions were lounging about due to having made a kill earlier during the day. Mr Jackal has never been one to work too hard for food when freebies are on offer, so he ghosted about Mr White Lion's spot until the big cat decided he'd had enough of this nonsense and bestirred himself to chase the canid... for a short while.

Then he got bored and lay down again.

Eventually we figured out nothing else very exciting would happen so it was off to the lookout point where I enjoyed an Allesverloren (all is lost) port while schnacking on almonds and cashews, taking in the big dry river bed and hills. We watched a large flock of springbok graze against the wind and generally just appreciated the space.

The Karoo is not the bushveld. You're not going to find the ginormous teeming herds you'll encounter farther north in Kruger, but it has a beauty all of its own. I am a Karoo baby. Half my family originates from this area, so I guess the land is in my blood and bones, and I'm at home here.

As far as lodges go, Dwyka is one I WILL return to. It has that rare blend of five-star luxury but chilled-out hominess that doesn't leave me on edge. Some establishments you enter and immediately worry about smudging the furniture. Not so here, and the staff are friendly but not invisible. They're people who fast become friends within the 48 hours of a visit.

So, my verdict: if you can spend time at Sanbona and want to really feel like you've escaped the city and all the madness, the Dwyka Tented Lodge hits the mark. My only regret: that I didn't sit still long enough to really steep in the Karoo stillness, but I'm walking away with a genuine Karoo wilderness experience garnished with the kind of hospitality this area is legendary for.

Five out of five, guys! **wink**

Monday, August 9, 2010

Goths on Safari: Day one

Predictably, we missed the transfer from Sanbona's main gate to the Dwyka Tented Lodge. This meant that we had to mission about 60 or so kilometres along bumpy gravel roads in our trusty Palio. To be fair, the roads here are in better nick than the gravel roads in some parts of Namibia, so this time we did not shake the dashboard loose like the last time, to give our little Italian car some credit.

The Karoo this time of the year is... beautiful. And cold. We checked in and were shown our "tent", which is a term I'll use in the loosest sense of the word. Small house would be better suited. And the bath... Let me not make you jealous.

We were treated to nommies of smoked salmon and avocado on a bed of greens for a light lunch, before Trevor whisked us off on our first game drive in one of the Landies, cracking salty jokes all the way, much to our amusement. To give you some idea of the landscape, it's fairly hilly Little Karoo with typical mix of scrub and fynbos, with folded oxidised sandstone hills shot through with white quartz.

It being the Karoo, we're not going to see vast numbers of game like we would up in Kruger or the northern parts of the country, but today was special. We got to see a free-roaming wild cheetah with her two almost-grown cubs. We stood about 10 metres from her and the trio just lay there, watching us watch them. That was truly special for me since the only other time I encountered cheetah was the time I ran in the cheetah enclosure at Tygerberg Zoo (and we're not going to go into too much detail there, okay?)

Springbok abound, a species I'm more fond of with rosemary steeped in red wine with a dash of garlic, but we did spot some red hartebeest which, I'm told, the white lions enjoy quite raw. The cherry on the cake for the evening game drive was, however, the solitary white rhino bull who grazed merrily about twenty paces from our Landy. For the sake of sounding like a jaded local, I've seen plenty of these chaps before but it was still thrilling to see the great big grey chap schlurp up mouthfuls of herbs.

Back at the lodge and chilled to the bone, I was more than happy to graze on a wonderful selection of dinner, starting with a cheesy melba toast followed by butterfish (om nom nom nom nom) completed by a selection of cheese. Okay, I admit it, I'm a cheese freak. Had a lovely white wine, cannot remember the name but it features artwork by Paul du Toit on the label, who happened to be my ma's neighbour when we still lived in Hout Bay.

Right now, at time of writing, I'm one of the last (annoying) guests to ghost about the general lodge section. My motivation: this bloody lovely gas fire, gorgeous staff who just want to make sure I'm happy, and the wonderful sense of okay, let's just chill 'cos there's absolutely no cellphone reception and if you Skype me I'm probably not going to answer.

Sanbona gets it right and I'm horribly happy here.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Winner announced: Fuse give-away

We have a winner! Congratulations to Pierre du Plessis, who has won a copy of SA Partridge’s novel Fuse. Please email me at nerinedorman@gmail.com and send me your postal address.

Ask for Fuse at a bookshop near you, or order it online at http://www.kalahari.net/books/Fuse/632/34589816.aspx

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Book one and two of my Khepera series are now available IN PRINT, in South Africa. No excuses about not reading on screen. Support a starving author so she can create more mayhem as a full-time occupation. http://www.kalahari.net/page_templates/searchresults.aspx?searchText=Nerine+Dorman&navigationid=632&displayShop=books

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Call for submissions

I’m currently on the prowl for fiction across all genres for a Titanic-inspired line of novellas and novels. See the link below for further information. http://nerinedorman.blogspot.com/2010/05/call-for-submissions-titanic-inspired.html

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Bloody Parchment short fiction competition

And, if you reckon you’ve got what it takes to write a good horror or dark fantasy short story, we’d like to hear about it for the SA HORRORFEST’s Bloody Parchment short fiction competition. Details here: http://bloodyparchment.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The good, the bad... and the story

So... I'm starting to get excited about Tainted Love now that the admin is happily puttering along, which means I'll be setting up a profile for my "dark half" Therése von Willegen. If someone had suggested two years ago that I'd be writing contemporary erotic romance, I'd have laughed myself sick but, to be quite honest, I'm enjoying it. Alternating between my "serious" writing and the stuff that (I hope) will sell, it's a nice break to write some fluff...or as my lovely husband so succinctly puts it: porn with a pink border.

Dunno about the pink border. Probably more like black leather-and-studs, since I'm definitely not writing sweet stuff. Okay, okay... I'm providing the required HEA but the characters in my stories aren't squeaky clean. I tend to focus on folk who belong to a far more bohemian crowd than the ones I've encountered elsewhere, and I aim to write with some authenticity.

Nothing annoys me more than reading about alternative types via some vanilla person's perception of what is Goth, or is not. Invariably, these characters are stereotyped Hollywood templates and are so...inauthentic. Like oh, so suicidal... Oh, life is sorrow... blah blah blah. Sure, I've got a black dog nipping at my heels from time to time, but I can't imagine anything more miserable than having to wear pastel, read chicklit and hang out with my girlfriends in shopping malls while sipping smoothies.

Bats, black lace, velvet, red wine and cemetries make me happy. Addams family ON! Deal with it. **strains of Type O Negative's Black No. 1 in the background**

I've been what my mom refers to as "rebellious" since I was 15. Almost two decades later, I'm still there. I've played in grunge, Goth and black metal bands, I've stage-dived, I've done a spot of alternative modelling, I've watched the sunrise more times than I care to remember, I've woken in hospital with alcohol poisoning, kissed girls, interrupted an orgy by mistake, been stabbed, helped out behind the scenes for fetish photo shoots, almost been arrested, been involved in indie filmmaking, got tattooed, pierced...

Some good, some bad, I wouldn't trade any of these experiences over the past 17 or so years for the world. They're little markers along the way. I'm not always proud of some of the stuff I've done but always, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

And it makes for a good story. These incidents and some of the people I've encountered are where I draw much of the inpiration for my tales, be they gritty dark fantasy or erotic romance. I like heroes who aren't wholly good. My ladies may well have a shady past (or present). But the point is, not everyone's going to be the wholesome girl or boy next door, 'cos face it, if we didn't break the rules, things would be really boring. In my books, at least.

And I may well be on the wrong side of 30, but I'm not done yet.

* * * *

Book one and two of my Khepera series are now available IN PRINT, in South Africa. No excuses about not reading on screen. Support a starving author so she can create more mayhem as a full-time occupation.

* * * *

Call for submissions. I'm currently on the prowl for fiction across all genres for a Titanic-inspired line of novellas and novels. See the link below for further information.

* * * *

And, if you reckon you've got what it takes to write a good horror or dark fantasy short story, we'd like to hear about it for the SA HORRORFEST's Bloody Parchment short fiction competition. Details here: http://bloodyparchment.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Blowing a Fuse with SA Partridge

I'd like to introduce South African YA author SA Partridge, whose novel Fuse has been available for a while locally. I first encountered her writing when The Goblet Club was released, and have enjoyed her stories, which are told with great honesty and authenticity. She is never condescending toward younger people, and perhaps this is what is so appealing about her novels.

This month I'm giving away a copy of Fuse to the first person who can email me at nerinedorman@gmail.com and tell me what the names of the two brothers in Fuse are. Please write "Fuse giveaway" in the subject of your email. I don't mind mailing overseas, but please allow some time for delivery, as it will be surface mail.

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You make mention of the Columbine school killings in Fuse. Since the tragedy in Columbine, South Africa has also had a widely publicised school murder. Did this incident with the "ninja killer" influence your writing of Fuse at all? And, if so, how?

Morne Harmse was the sole reason I started writing Fuse in the first place. I was so angered by the way the media were carrying on about the incident, making all these false connections to Satanism, heavy metal music, mental illness etc.

No one seemed to give much thought to the real issues behind the scenes, like bullying, child abuse, depression. I wanted to write a story about how someone becomes a “child killer”, focusing on the characters as real people whose actions are driven by what has happened to them.

It took me four months to write the book. I just kept writing and writing, and eventually what turned out was a complete novel. It was quite crazy.

If you had a chance to speak with your protagonists, Kendall and Justin, while they were on the run, what would you say to them?

I have no idea what I’d say. They were in such a crazy situation by that point that I don’t think any advice would have helped.

What sort of feedback have you had from teens since Fuse's release?

A bunch of kids who acted in The Goblet Club play (Gif) were at the launch of Fuse and their consequent feedback was very favourable. I’ve had kids tell me they relate to the character of Kendall. I’ve had kids tell me that Kendall was too “girly”. Everyone seems to experience the book in their own way, but all seem to go back to their own school years while reading it, which I think is an indication that I did good.

What sort of influence does belonging to a subculture have on a teen? Can this ever be harmful?

I think as soon as someone has to behave in a certain way in order to belong to a certain group leaves room for danger.

Do you have any advice for anyone who wants to write novels, especially in South Africa?

Just write, and don’t pay attention to what anyone else says. If its good someone will pick it up. And finish what you started. So many people start writing a book but never finish.

Care to spill the beans on any future projects?

The first in a series of books about a strong female character is coming out next year. I like to think of it as the anti-Twilight series.
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Buy Fuse here: http://www.kalahari.net/books/Fuse/632/34589816.aspx

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Bitten by Khepera

So, this author (speaking of herself in third person) is able to brag another four-star review, this time from Bitten by Books, whose reviewer says: "Jamie is the anti-hero: he’s rude, crude, obnoxious and yet the whole time I was reading this story I was cheering for this guy because for every nasty act he committed, he would demonstrate some kindly deed, sometimes for people he knew well but more often for others he either hardly knew or despised."

Go read the review here: http://bittenbybooks.com/?p=23785

The author is happy to have spread some "light horror". Heeeeeee.


Now, wearing the editor hat, I'm on the look-out for Titanic-inspired submissions, seeing as the ship would have sunk almost a hundred years ago and it's the kind of disaster that lends itself to all genres.


I'm tired of working for the newspapers. I'm also tired of hearing people complain they can't read my novel onscreen. Well, you don't have excuses. Go buy Khepera Rising in print so I can retired and bring you more where this novel came from. You know you want to.