I Don’t Wanna Talk About It

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Yes – I’ve been away for a while. Things happen – we grow – or we don’t grow. I’m not going to apologise for life happening to me. Death and life – and then more death and a bit of hatred… You never know where it’s going to come from or how it will make you feel. And dodgy internet – oh yes. It happens to us all. So…..

I am going to be posting again – as regularly as I can. The one thing that has kept me sane over the past year of death, madness, and destruction, has been illustrating children’s books. I’ve also started fan girling my own Shadow People book. I’m going to fan this on Youtube and also here.

So, I hope you forgive my long absence, and accept my odd re-emergence…

Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane

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Feed My Reads South Africa

This was not an easy read. I did a lot of research into apartheid when I wrote African Me & Satellite TV, and just reading about some of the history of some of the things that were done to black people hurts badly. But even though you cringe in shame for the insanely barbaric doings of other whites, you can never feel the shame of millions of people for being classified as sub-human because of the colour of their skin. This book does a good job of getting you a little closer to that feeling than the any of the history books I’ve read.

I grew up smack bang in the middle of apartheid. Where even little white children expected “respect” from adult black people. I always found it weird how many people suddenly had stories about their black “friends” during the struggle after having seen very few real white…

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The Joy of Kindles

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It is impossible to look anywhere now without Covid-19 and its effects being right there in your face, except of course when you manage to lose yourself in a good movie or book. At this point most of us have realised that we can’t choose not to partake in this horrible pandemic. It turned lives around the world upside down almost overnight, and it is still plowing on like a slow train. Some of us are fortunate enough to be able to socialise online, and be able to stockpile provisions for at least a few weeks. Luckily for some the biggest problems are boredom. There are millions of others who don’t have running water, or food, or adequate shelter, and knowing that makes boredom seem like a blessing.

We know that sooner or later this will pass. It is obvious though that our world will be changed. We will lose people that we wouldn’t have lost so soon. There will be a whole lot of mourning and grief. Then our new normal will begin to show itself. Maybe as soon as it’s safe to do so there will be lots of parties and hugging, but maybe there won’t be. Could be that some people will be more cautious about getting too close to others. Smaller airlines will probably go out of business, and cruise ships might not seem like fun things to be on any more. We don’t know what the future holds. Business owners don’t know whether they can weather this particular storm. And this applies to authors also. We are all wondering what to do next. Some suggest promoting their books. Others suggest giving away their books for free.

If you follow the bestseller lists on Amazon you will see a big upsurge of children’s books in the top 100, so yes, if you are selling children’s books, you might very well see an increase in sales at this point. I’ve asked quite a few people what books they are buying for themselves right now, and most of them said that they’re not. People are reading the collections they already have, and they’re taking advantage of the many freebies on offer right now. So I’m thinking that if you have a book ready to publish it might be a good idea to hold off for a little while, and either work on perfecting it a little more or get started on another. Now is a great time to be offering any of your books for free, not from a marketing point of view, but rather as an act of kindness for a world locked in terror.

This doesn’t mean that you should throw up your hands and stop writing. People are not going to stop reading—in fact, on the other end of this there will probably more people reading. Take advantage of this time to write and perfect new books, so that when the world can breathe again, you will be ready. Work on your covers and future promo banners. Go over already published books and see if they need any tweaks. Keep on creating fantastic places for people to dive into and forget about the chaos for a while. It’s a good time to share whatever beauty you can make—writers, artists, poets—your magic will always be needed.

It’s also a great time for readers to gravitate to e-readers. There will most definitely be more people buying eBooks, so it is probably time to think about making our own eBooks as pretty as they can be, rather than being the poor relation of the paperback. It’s a lot cheaper to buy a full colour eBook than it is a paperback, so all of us writers should be taking a good look at our Kindles. It is also a good idea to note that with all the online working now and in the future, there will be a lot more people with computers and wifi connections. Books can be read with the Kindle for PC app on laptops and computers also.

On a lighter note, I regularly fall asleep while reading, only to be woken up immediately when I drop my Kindle and it hits me in the eye, but so far I haven’t managed to lose it. I saw this question on Quora, “How do I find my dead Kindle?”. Expecting to see hilarious answers I of course opened the thread. Apart from one answer beginning with “Dead or alive you’re going to have to search for your Kindle manually”, which did give me an unexpectedly lengthy fit of the giggles, the rest was quite serious. It appears that losing Kindles in the home is a real and horrible thing. Considering that some people have their entire libraries only accessible via these fabulous little critters, maybe Amazon should incorporate some sort of bell thing with a long life extra battery that can be activated with a little remote. You can pay me later Jeff Bezos. Yes—the world needs a beeping Kindle. Or maybe some enterprising individual can create glow in the dark cases for them.

Stay safe.

Writing On

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I managed to get back online properly on Monday. After months of internet drama, being on and then off again, I now have a reliable connection. Interestingly, the guy who installed the system told me that mine would be the last installation in this town for the moment, so I’m beyond grateful to be reliably back in the online world.

Last night our President announced that we would go into lockdown at midnight on Thursday. Hopefully this will save a whole lot of lives that would have been lost without a quarantine in place here. South Africans are a tactile bunch. As with the rest of the world, fear is abounding, and with the already devastating poverty here, many, many people are only now getting over the freezing in terror moments and thinking of ways to help each other. It is truly wonderful to see petty differences dissolve in this crisis and compassion taking over.

I hope to start loading new Youtube how to videos up again very soon for authors wanting tips on the nuts and bolts of publishing their books, but I’m still open for business for anyone wanting editing, formatting, covers, maps, or children’s illustrations to be done for them. I’m also planning on slipping in a few general chat videos on writing and reading.

I have had a couple of emails from clients wondering what I think will happen in the world of Indie publishing now, and I must say that I have absolutely no clue. It is too early to tell where this pandemic will end. One thing is for sure, during these quarantines, and even beyond as the world counts its losses and people figure out the way forward for themselves as individuals, as nations, and for the planet itself, the world needs both fiction and non-fiction. For escape, for inspiration, for hope, and for instruction. Now is also the time for journaling. A time to record this disaster for future generations. I have a feeling that even if there is a slight lull in sales of books (apart from the prepping guides) once people truly understand the true fallout from this pandemic, after that I believe that there will be a huge demand for quality eBooks, so all I can say is, don’t stop writing. And stay safe.

By the way, most of my books are selling for 99 cents on Kindle Countdown deals at the moment, and the shorts are free, so if you haven’t already read them and need something to do head over to Amazon.

Fantasy Maps for Books Pricing

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Happy New Decade! Hopefully this one will be rather more fabulous than the previous one. It’s been a busy start to 2020 for me, but I like busy so that’s not a bad thing. Mostly I’ve been busy with work for my author clients, but whenever I’ve had a little bit of down time I’ve been diving into my pile of works in progress that have been left gathering dust over the past few years, when it often seemed that the sky had only one desire, which was to fall on my head and beat the daylights out of me. Having figured out that the sky will always be pretty much all around my head all the time without malicious intent, I finally learned to enjoy its dark blue days as well as the pastel shiny rainbow ones, and so life has become a lot more fun.

Just because you wrote a book completely doesn’t mean that you can zoom out and publish it as is after it’s been languishing for a couple of years. Writers grow and change, and besides, you’re highly unlikely to remember what you wrote, so you have to re-read and re-write. Which is what I’ve been doing with my Shadow People series. As most of you will know, my day job consists of editing, proofreading, designing covers, and illustrating for writers and publishers like most of you. I had a terribly ugly scribbled map of the planet where most of the action takes place in my Shadow People books, Lapillus, to keep track of archaeological points, territories, secrets, species, and citadels. Finally, when an author asked me to create a map for his wall of the world in his books, purely so that he could “gloat over his creation of an entire planet” (his words), I decided to finish my own map too. What a brilliant trip it was to lay it down, and now to see my own creation as an actual map. It will be going in the planned updated version of the first book in the series, and also in the rest as they are published.

So I’ve now added fantasy mapmaking to my list for all of you authors who want one to put in your books, or simply to hang on your walls to gloat over. They are fabulous for swag too. You can have them printed on mugs, T-shirts, bookmarks, and so on when you are promoting or offering prizes. They are made to order according to your specifications.

A plain black and white map for your book will cost you US $75. This includes one basic critter sketch – dragon, sea monster – googly-eyed alien, or whatever you want. You can have shields or flags, or any other thing your heart desires.

A colour map will be US $145. This includes all of the above as well as much more detail, shading, and so on.

Payments are by PayPal and a 50% deposit is generally required for first time clients only. As my regular clients already know, if I know you, you can split payments into reasonable chunks that are affordable to you.

Happy world making you wonderful creators of universes – and interesting critters.


Ani’s Advent 2019! Peace, Sleep and A Disgruntled Story Reading Ape

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Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

Hey Santa,

Well, I’ll be going home today and, to tell the truth, much as I’ve had fun with all the other animals, I’ll be glad of a rest. I may still be a pup at heart…but my bones don’t always seem to agree.

Peace on earth… that sounds pretty good about now. And anyway, I miss my sofa… and her… you get used to your own two-legs. Get them properly trained. And the fish will be missing me. And goodness only knows what the hedgehogs and the pigeons have been up to while I’ve been gone!

I suppose you don’t have that problem, working away just the one night every year. But, then, you have such a long way to go that you must turn time inside out to do it… so maybe your night is half a year for us!

Mind you, I’m not the only one wishing…

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Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Christmas Book Fair – New Book on the Shelves #Non-Fiction The Secret Life of Humans: Reflections on the Good, the Bad and the Painful by Jo Robinson

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A huge thank you to Sally Cronin for sharing my new non-fiction book on her fabulous Christmas Bookstore. I hope it will resonate with many, and even though I’m sure it will make some just a little bit cross I truly believe that it may help some of the very many walking wounded in this world today. Thank you Sally!

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Delighted to share the news of the return of Jo Robinson with a new book just in time for Christmas. A  non-fiction look at what makes us human. The Secret Life of Humans: Reflections on the Good, the Bad and the Painful.

About the book

What makes us human? Sadly most people hide the most interesting and helpful of these things away. We walk around with facades in place of who we believe people will like, respect, and love. We pretend to be what we are not. In so doing we are losing touch with our own humanity, and progressively, individually and as societies, moving farther and farther away from who and what we really are. This book delves into the dangers of this.

It explores reality and the things that hurt and hinder humanity. The things that if we finally begin to consider could save ourselves and the world…

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Thursday- A Little Personal -October-Ween Book, Blog & Trailer Block Party

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Fiction Favorites

Usually, you see Twiggy and Lucy in action here but this week is a little different. I’m actually going to promote my books (gasp). Now don’t run away cause there is something in it for you. If you leave a comment, you will be entered into a drawing.

Here’s What I’m Giving Away Today:

One of two $5.00 Amazon gift cards and

One of two of my E-books (Your choice).

There will be a total of four winners.

“We are here, Boss.”
“Yeah, Dad. Now go talk about your books.”

Thank you, Ladies.

Here are the books

This is the John Cannon Trilogy. It is a continuing story of John Cannon’s struggles with a terrorist organization whose objective is the destruction of America. You can click on each of the covers for a trailer.

Click cover for the trailer.

When a former pro football star and broadcaster, now a Wall Street maven…

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Youtube Virgin No More

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I’m edging back into weekly blogging again and I’m planning on weekly posts rather than daily posts, so here we go with the sticking of the toe into the water to begin with. It has been a very busy six months. After the previous three years of insanity it has been good to finally be able to just get on with working on what I love, breathe a little, and figure out what my new life will be. What I finally figured out is that you never know. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. This year has been filled with all sorts of fabulous projects from editing jobs to illustration and a couple of cover designs. I’ve had to move the publication date for my new non-fiction book, The Secret Life of People further towards the middle of September as work for my clients is always a priority, but the second week in September so far is looking like the time of its arrival into the world. I’m really looking forward to that.

I’ve also managed to load my first Youtube video. I have a few more in the works and will definitely be loading one per week covering my writing life and all things self-publishing. The video editing is a steep learning curve so hopefully my future videos will be a lot more tightly knitted—and with a whole lot less umming. I’m sure that at some point I’m going to get an um or two in the comments. If you want to know how to format a full bleed book for print on demand please check it out on Youtube. If you fancy more writerly videos then please do subscribe—I’ll try to hold back on the umming in future.

Watch this space for the introduction of the third book in the Myrtle the Purple Turtle series by Cynthia Reyes and Lauren Reyes-Grange, where Myrtle meets a gorgeous new friend, and by the way—zoom up to the top of this page if you’re looking for a new book cover design – there’s a sale happening up there.

Gonggong Ahoy

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Between scientists and conspiracy theorists I’m not sure which give scribblers more crazy wonderful character ideas. Although— I challenge any author of science-fiction, who is also diligent in their research of real-life science and theoretical physics, to swear that they have never ever had a tinfoil hat moment. Such as when Google starts popping up conspiracy theories after you innocently ask it something quantum. My television is connected via my internet provider through a little box thing that they supply, which puts me in the very happy situation of being able to watch Youtube videos on my TV from the comfort of my couch with a nice glass of vino. Probably not ideal for a writer of things, vino notwithstanding. Youtube, being just like its daddy Google, will then recommend similar things to your recent views and send you spinning down rabbit holes all over the place, while holding tightly on to your tinfoil protection against the deadly rays being directed at all times, by dark forces, at your noggin.

Sometimes I wonder though. What I’m currently wondering is whether NASA and Co get some sort of thrill out of deliberately taunting innocent conspiracy theorists. Several ancient legends tell of a rogue planet—either a single planet or a system of small planets circling a brown dwarf star—depending on the legend. It has been called all sorts of things—Niburu, Nemesis, Wormwood, the Destroyer, and so on. Nothing about its apparent destined arrival is in any way fabulous. Some have it appearing in the sky with gassy wings. Mostly they say that it is going to do some damage to our world, if not destroy it completely. All agree on its redness though. Modern doomsday planet experts predict pretty much every year that it is sure to appear imminently and either squish us all like bugs or send us into some kind of ice age shortly on the heels of planetwide floods, earthquakes, and other horrible stuff in general.

So when Planet 9 was actually discovered a few years ago there was a whole lot of conspiracy theorist “I Told You So-ing!” Much orbit plotting happened and soon our beloved conspiracy theorists shared their plottings to show a huge elliptical orbit taking thousands of years as Number 9 zoomed way out to the Kuiper Belt before zooming right back to an alarmingly close proximity to Earth. Time frames coincided nicely with everything from Noah’s flood to the destruction of Göbekli Tepe and other strangely amazing constructions of humans in the distant past that we cannot at all reproduce today with all of our cleverness. Explanations were offered of our similarity to Hugh Howey’s characters as post apocalyptic “rememberers”. Apparently this thing zooms by every so often thousand years and sends us down the snake to the bottom of the ladder. While good stuff for science-fiction—Planet 9 is a fabulous part of one of the books in my own series—I gave the idea of being squished no more thought after reading about it a couple of years ago. Then, in the past few days, up popped planet (225088) 2007 (OR) 10, which was found, with its own little moon, beyond Neptune in 2007. I assume that Planet 9 and 2007 (OR) 10 are one and the same potential death star. At least I hope so. Two Destroyers would be a bit much on the universal humour scale.

This planet has remained monikerless until now while its discoverers apparently needed to “research” it a little more. It was originally dubbed Snow White as it glowed white and was assumed to be small, and only something rather large would reflect white from that distance if it was a dark colour. As things turned out it was not small and white after all—it was large, and RED, and in possession of its very own methane. “Checks tinfoil hat” The scientists who discovered it are asking the public to help by choosing one of three available names for the not so newly discovered planet. ONLY these three names are available to choose from. They, and their meanings are:

Gonggong. Gonggong is a Chinese water god with red hair and a serpent-like tail. He is known for creating chaos, causing flooding, and tilting the Earth.

What’s that you say?!!!

Holle. Holle is a European winter goddess of fertility, rebirth and women.

Vili. Vili is a Nordic deity who defeated frost giant Ymir and used the body to create the universe.

As for Gonggong—all I can say is please let’s not pick that one. The other two, while seemingly rather boring and innocuous, have too much to do with winter and frost  (read ICE AGE after SQUISHING) for my tin hat liking—not to mention the rebirth bit–which would only be needed after a good squishing after all, so I would like to suggest a slightly sweeter name for that poor innocent planet. Seriously scientist people, couldn’t you just have gone with Rose Red seeing as Snow White turned out to not be white? Luckily Amazon is already aware of the danger and writers have a whole lot more to make real.