Writers all have their own quirks. They all have different ways of coping with stress or “writers block”. For me, writers block has never been a real thing in a way that I couldn’t write anything at all, but it has been a thing insofar as what I could write joyfully. I love writing non-fiction and I love research, but writing fiction has always been the thing that I do that makes me happier than doing anything else. Fiction writers hold the universe in their hands, and they can literally do anything with it. I think it comes with a responsibility though. Good fiction can change minds, and sometimes it can change lives.
I’ve always had a broad spectrum of genres that I enjoy to read in both fiction and non-fiction. History, good literary works, humour, and horror. In my teens there was a short sojourn into soppy romances but that didn’t last very long. Always at the top of my list have been science-fiction and fantasy. An early addiction to Stephen King and Dean Koontz however led to sleeping with the light on for a long time, and to this day I dip into horror sparingly. King’s books are amazingly cerebral when you consider his writing style. He gets psychopaths in ways that are fabulously terrifying to read. I’m really not at all into the new “let’s make friends with the devil” trend though.
The biggest problem that I have with trends like these (see also the It’s Sexy to Have Vampires Sucking on Your Neck – poor hungry guys) is because in the hands of really good writers, blood-sucking demons can start to look very cool, especially when they’re tall, have six-packs, have a good reason to be pitied, and possibly are a tiny bit sparkly. A great writer can make readers feel sorry for the devil himself, while really wanting to help him get over his traumatic childhood. When a book like that becomes a bestseller it becomes a bit of our social history. Just like Shades of Grey set off a generation of people thinking that it is quite acceptable for young girls to be treated like rubbish, as long as it made for good jollies all around in the end. That particular book has to go down in history as one of the most badly written—ever—but it is still loved and defended by a whole lot of people.
Fairy tales seem to last forever, and there are still people today who believe that fairies actually exist. Maybe they do. Maybe the act of writing about them makes them pop into existence somewhere. I do like to think that the creatures that come alive in my mind when I write them exist somewhere now in our vast universe. If you believe in the law of attraction, you create in your life what you focus on. This has been proved right a lot more than not, so it makes me wonder, what happens when we concentrate on evil things, in whatever form, shiny and good-looking or gnarly with big claws and teeth? I’m not innocent in this respect because of the seriously gnarly and evil Nefandus in one of my own books—those guys scared me when I wrote them—still do as I write more of them.
The thing is, it is clear that they are the bad guys. They don’t have groupies Googling “how can I summon a Nefandus that has a lot of muscly bits?” That is not as funny as it sounds because there are actual Google searches of people trying to find out how to either become a vampire or locate one. It just seems wrong to me to put books out there where the devil is the one who has been wronged, and to glorify powers that have historically been seen as demonic. Banshees are no longer feared—rather their “powers” are considered enviable. Aliens are eminently bonkable, their being related to fish notwithstanding apparently. Demons are great as long as they look good and had an unhappy childhood. Vampires—well—
I remember when the Interview with a Vampire books and movies came out. I remember feeling a lot of pity for those poor things—and admiration for their gorgeousness. Almost every teenage girl in the eighties had a crush on Tom Cruise—back before we found out that he had to stand on boxes to look smoulderingly down on his leading ladies. And the whole couch bouncing thing of course—
That’s just the opinion of this particular scribbler though. Reading is all about escapism after all, and we should be able to differentiate between what could be possible and what is just too way out there. Still—you never know—while I like to think of friendly cartoon Pegasus and dragon having marshmallow parties with their buddies somewhere out there, I would not be so happy with some of my other “creations” zooming around anywhere at all.
They say that life is what happens when you’re making plans. It is true indeed. I’ve made lots of plans in the last couple of years and life happened anyway. What is fabulous about life is that it is always guaranteed to change, so if something feels a little rotten, you can rely on the fact that it won’t always be so—just try and keep your nostrils shut for a while.
As has been glaringly obvious to followers of my blog, I’ve been more away from it than not for quite some time. After blogging almost every day when I started, to panicked zoom throughs a couple of times a year, I apologise for my lengthy absence and comment neglect. Most of my writing plans had to be put aside for a while in favour of learning how to live again, but now it’s time to rejoin the world of blogging and the world in general. I’m going to start in easy with one post a week, and catch up again with the bloggerverse slowly and enjoyably this time.
I have a little pile of completed books that I intended to publish before, but life was too busy happening. It still is very busy happening, only now I’m enjoying it. So I’m going to see what they were all about, edit them, and let them loose soon. Can’t wait to get stuck in. The urge to scribble never leaves no matter what in the world is going on, so a couple of paragraphs were added or changed while those books languished. Writers can’t stop writing, and in the case of my big non-fiction book (which finally seems to be happy with its tenth title), I’m glad that I never published it when I wanted to. It’s grown and morphed as I’ve grown and morphed, and I think that it will be much more helpful to the people out there that it is intended to help. I also have some great projects on the go, both for others and myself, and can’t wait to launch them all.
Anyway—hello again online friends and family. I’m looking forward to hearing all your news again and getting back into writerly chats.
Exciting times ahead as the gorgeous and wise Myrtle returns with her fabulous friends. In the meantime they’ve all learned French and are about to share their new adventures.
The little purple turtle returns!
Myrtle — who lived in our family’s hearts for 28 years, captured the imagination of S. African illustrator Jo Robinson, then, in the last year, charmed thousands of children and adults around the world — is on the move.
First, she returns this autumn as “Vertu”, in French. The text was translated by Myrtle-lovers Jean Long and Jessica Charnock, that creative duo whom you’ve met on this blog.
Here’s Jo’s draft of the cover:
Then Jessica emailed: Would Jo and I permit her to make a wall hanging of Myrtle?
Jo and I were giddy with excitement, of course, and Jessica proceeded to hook the Myrtle the Purple Turtle rug.
And what-do-you-know? Her wall hanging won “honourable mention” at the huge show and conference of the Ontario Hooking Craft Guild last May in our nation’s capital! Congrats, Jessica!
In the just-released Autumn issue…
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It’s a term of respect around here apparently. I’m fine with children calling me Tannie (that’s Aunty in Afrikaans), but I object to anyone who is already grown up aiming that moniker at me. Unless I am their actual aunty. Apart from the fact that writers are ageless—that comes with the territory—there is something deeply insulting being called Tannie by anyone with more wrinkles than me.
Any time anyone over forty says Hello Tannie to me they’re unwittingly heading onto dangerous ground. It will instantly jar me from my semi-permanent mental state of communing with those fabulous folk who populate my books, and elicit a malignant stare, at the very least. I tend to want to inform these elderly but apparently younger than me people of our distinct lack of similar DNA. So far I’ve (mostly) managed to control myself, but it has had me peering in the mirror and wondering what it is about my looks these days that makes me come over as venerable enough to be considered their Tannie. Should I be swopping my denim shorts and purple toenail varnish for a purple hair rinse and twin set jerseys?
Nope. I’ll just do what I do and put it in a book. My very interesting journey of the past couple of years hasn’t left me much time for personal writing, but when the urge does hit too strongly to be ignored I’ve been zooming off to bang out a paragraph or two of my “interesting journey” inspired new fiction book, Mopani Mansions. Even though quite a bit of this trip has been painful or fearful to the max, it’s also taught me to fear less, learn from pain rather than wallow in it, and it’s inspired my weird writerly mind and sense of humour rather than squashed it.
The whacky, weird, precious, or just plain wonderful people who have come into my life in one way or another lately have mostly found themselves arriving in Mopani Mansions, and now of course we will have the coolest, sexiest, and most fabulous Tannie there too. She will be allowed to do all of those terrible things that occurred to me to do every time any aged and arthritic fellow had the temerity to assume I would be honoured to be called Aunty.
I have a couple of launches for my fabulous author clients coming first, but around June this year I’ll be letting Mopani Mansions loose on the world, and also my long ago finished but yet to be edited non-fiction work about living, dying, reality, and all the bits in between. That’s the fabulousness of being a scribbler. You can’t keep us down, and we NEVER get old, no matter how many times we get called Tannie. We can be unicorns forever, and so we will be in our worlds. Read the rest of this entry »
Image Courtesy Pixabay
An ellipsis is three or four dots with spaces in between . . . and an em dash is a long dash, usually made by typing two single (en) dashes — next to each other, usually with no spaces between them and their adjoining words. They are called en or em because of their lengths, m being longer than n. En dashes are usually used as hyphens within particular words, and em dashes are used either within sentences or at the ends of them.
Not all authors have formal degrees in English, and most certainly, not many readers do either. Readers and book clubs that aren’t also writers are very unlikely to have lengthy debates about the correct use of em dashes and ellipses. Unless something is particularly jarring to a reader, they aren’t going to care whether any particular use of an em dash is grammatically…
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Myrtle the Purple Turtle made The List!
Surely, The LIST is the best collection of ‘must-read’ indie books anywhere.
Each book listed here has been recommended, commended or selected by CQI Magazine or the publications respected and trusted literary connections.
The LIST is one publication you will want to constantly refer to when looking for a new book for yourself or as a wonderful and unexpected gift for a friend, colleague, or family member.
I suggest you bookmark The LIST to make re-visiting and reading a sinch in the future.
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Click on the cover image above to read The LIST now
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Then check out the Electric Eclectic novelettes, great reads and the perfect way to find your next ‘favourite’ author.
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Wishing all of you a fabulous 2018!