African Me & Satellite TV
A couple of my books will be free around now for the next couple of days. Right now African Me is, so if you fancy it just click on the cover image to zoom over to Amazon for download. While you’re there Sands of Time is also free if you like wild romps with dragons and chatty spacecraft.
Princess – Portable Sin Buns
It’s amazing with how busy you get, you forget your early blogging days, where you sat glued to your monitor with bulging out eyes and sticking out tongue, waiting desperately for someone to LIKE what you’ve written. Then that crestfallen disappointment when nobody does – even though you’ve only got three followers and two of them are your aunties. I must say that I love this bloggerverse more every day, and all the wonderful warm people I now get to call friend. Anyway, I suddenly remembered one of my first posts in those old shy days when the writing always seemed stilted, and you felt like you were peering in people’s windows and reciting poetry to them without an invitation, waiting for the laughter and jeering to begin. And then you find out that bloggers don’t generally roll that way – that they’re a pretty cool bunch after all. Anyway. Now I want to practice rescheduling posts on WordPress, so I shall inflict it on you. This post was “written” by Princess – Suzette’s cook in African Me & Satellite TV.
I have decided to share with you, a very simple chicken and prawn dish. You can serve it with rice if you wish, or do as I do, and fill buttered buns with it.
I do not eat chicken. I have seen that it is the one of God’s creatures that has been given the most hardships, and receives the most cruelty. I have arranged with God that I will not eat any sort of bird, unless he can show me in some way that it is the reborn spirit of one of those cruel people, who care so little of the pain of animals, and so much for the making of money. The bones of such a bird, I will crunch with relish!
I also do not eat prawns. Mr Herman once brought four lobsters home from Harare for me to cook. These creatures jumped to the floor, and caused much terror for myself and Felix. That cat had his nose crunched very painfully until I pushed that beast off with a broom. I do not wish to see such things again, and I will certainly not eat the flesh of their cousins.
So I see you ask, how then can you cook something if you cannot taste it? I will tell you what I have been told by madam and all of her many friends. That my cooking is always perfect. Why should I not believe this, when I can see that it is true?
I make many things which I cannot taste. Cocktails for instance. Obviously I do not drink alcohol, as I am a good Christian woman. But only once did I create a drink which was not very highly praised. Madam’s friends had especially enjoyed my Pickled Onion & Gherkin Martini, so I thought – what about garlic? That was thought to be my one failure. But after thinking myself about this, and remembering how Mr Collie had spat it on to the shirt of Mr Herman, who then fell from his chair, and caused Mr Themba to cry very loudly, I believe maybe it was not such a terrible drink after all.
PORTABLE SIN BUNS
I make these for Mr Herman to take when he goes fishing on his boat with his friends. He says that they are so good, they have to be bad, so he calls them Portable Sin Buns.
500g Chicken Breasts – sliced into thin strips
500g Prawns, cleaned & peeled
– Boil their heads and shells in 150ml water for 15 minutes & strain
1 Tablespoon Grated Onion
1 Grated Clove Garlic
1 Teaspoon Tomato Paste
Salt & Pepper
2 Tablespoons Garam Masala
Buttered Bread Rolls
Brown the chicken with the garam masala, onion & garlic in a little oil.
Quickly add the prawn stock, tomato paste.
Allow to reduce until most of the liquid has gone.
Add the prawns and parsley and cook till done.
Season with salt & pepper to taste & add as much mayonnaise as you wish.
Spread the lettuce on a buttered roll and fill up with the chicken & prawn mixture.
I had to drive a way down the highway yesterday in the rain. I actually enjoy driving, and I’ve always been a fan of a big growly engine and lots of horsies under the hood, because I enjoy speed and the sense of freedom that zooming down a highway with just you, some cool music, and the control of a fast car brings. But stupid I’m not – mostly. People seem to assume that no matter what the conditions, they are absolutely obliged to drive at the top speed limit – at the very least. Bloody fools.
I stuck to mainly 100 kph when the visibility was bad, and made sure that I kept well away from the crazies as best I could, but I saw three cars barely manage to control skids as they flew past a petrol tanker up a blind hill, then succeed in avoiding an oncoming bus by what had to be inches, and then spend a minute slewing all over the road in some grizzly fast car ballet. Then – coming up to the town where I live I came across the aftermath of an accident. Humungous truck all bent and twisted on one side of the road, all his cargo all over the place, and a whole lot of cars in a bunch on the other side. Police cars, fire trucks, and people trying to clear the stuff off the road.
Then this morning I heard that a truck had been encroaching on the wrong side of the road, and had a head on with a minibus full of Zimbabweans, killing ten of them, including both drivers. What a totally unnecessary waste of life. People really need to get things into perspective. The possibility of killing anyone at all through wilful negligence should never be a possibility at all. Life is precious to every single one of us, and we shouldn’t have to risk it because some tool thinks that he has to do everything quicker and louder than everyone else.
And then there’s the other thing. The fact that the people of Zimbabwe have been turned into a nation of vagrants and forced world travellers by the selfish behaviour of the greedy few in control of their lives. I meet them here every time I go to town – people who have no way of providing for their families in their own country, and they come down here to work so that they can send money home. They don’t do it because they want to swan around the continent – in fact they have a lot of difficulties here because they are seen to be stealing work from local people. They do it because they choose to try their best instead of sitting under a tree and waiting to die of starvation, while their leaders get fatter and wealthier on what should rightly be theirs.
All of my Zimbabwean friends have said that there is nothing more terrifying than travelling in minibus taxis, but they don’t have any other choice because that’s the only way they can afford to travel. Pity that those bloody thieving politians don’t get to feel the fear of knowing that the pilot of the speeding vehicle you’re in decides whether you live or die with the choices that he makes. Although, having been directly responsible for the deaths of so many of their people for so many years now, even that wouldn’t make a difference. Pardon the rant. But really. No appointment is so important, and no destination will disappear because you get there a little late.
It got me thinking at any rate. There but for the grace of God, and that sort of thing. We go through our lives always busy. Busy doing, and planning, and fretting, and doing some more. Worrying about things that maybe aren’t so important in the grand old scheme of things. We get ourselves all in knots over some silly thing that we said, and worry about what people will think about us. We care so much about doing the right things, and the impressions we are making. Whether that be being seen as a ninny for driving “too slow”, or in the scribbling and blogging world, putting something out there that nobody will like. And while we’re agonising over that one truly rotten review, or worrying that we’ll be ridiculed for some scribble lurking around somewhere, those things could literally become the last thought we ever have. Right place at the wrong time is all it takes. So. I think that I’ll just have the rest of the day off, play with Bella and the horde, watch me some B-Grade movie – maybe Sharknado again – missed the end last time, and ponder what I’m up to in this life, the universe, and everything.
Rest In Peace Zimbabwean friends. I’m truly sorry that you had to leave this way.
Nelson Mandela 1918 – 2013
Celebrate His Life
As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.
Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity. It is an act of justice. Like Slavery and Apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made, and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. You can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.
Resentment is like drinking a poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.
I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter. I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret, that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended.
As I walked out the door towards the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew that if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.
I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed towards the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death.
Nelson Mandela – Long Walk to Freedom
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, handsome, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?
Hopefully I’ll get good covers for the Shadow People books with my painting, but I’m losing too much time trying to tweak the picture I started for African Me into something good enough to use for its cover. I’ve only got a few weeks till D-Day, and I still have lots of tweaking to do all over the place. After quite a lot of bad language, and making things that look like this:
I got a tiny grip on how these things work now, and finally managed to make a cover I like.
It’s totally appropriate to the story, and I think it will translate well on the paper book. I hope so anyway. It’s amazing how much you learn as you cruise along the self-publishing road. When I think of my bright-eyed, bushy-tailed self a year ago, zooming around and just “doing stuff”, I really have a good laugh at my cheek. What I thought was really awesome back then, isn’t so much any more. Blush. Never mind. Learning all the time.
Till next time friends.
OI! Buy My Book!
Ha ha! I’ve been thinking about marketing quite a bit now. I decided not to actively market until I had more than one book out (a la Hugh Howey), and just see how things in the self-publishing world worked first. So now the time has come. As soon as my revamped current scribbles, and the new African Me go live next month, it will be that time. Over the last year, I’ve been mainly watching, and reading as much as I can about how to sell books as an independent author.
Even though my career was in sales, I still find the thought of flogging my own writing quite daunting. It’s not quite the same as selling a product, where what you see is what you get. Somebody’s not likely to buy a product or service without knowing exactly what they’re going to get. With a book though, you’re selling something ethereal. A possibility. A promise. Your buyer isn’t sure that they’re going to like what they pay for even if they’ve liked other books written by you before.
I figured that that definitely is the first step for me though. No selling till there’s more than one to sell, and that there would be at least a couple of people who had read what I write and might like some more. I’m not expecting to have fans lurking at the bottom of the garden, hoping to get pics of me doing something outrageous to sell to the Enquirer, and I don’t anticipate lots of sales to happen immediately, or even in the first months of trying to ply my wares. Selling doesn’t work like that for any product unless you have Lady Luck not only rooting for you, but camping out at your house. A successful product needs advertising as well as word of mouth to make people want to buy it. Would you buy the baked beans you know and love for $1, or beans in a jar for 10c from a lady on a corner, even if she tells you they’re better than Heinz? Nope. We want what we can be pretty sure we’ll like.
Indies can’t generally afford major advertising campaigns in the places already famous authors have their books publicised, such as magazines, billboards, television. So they use what they have – virtual launches, parties, giveaways, and social networking sites to get the word out. Intrepid bunch we are. Finding a way into one of those big boy forms of media isn’t likely for the arb scribbler such as myself, unless I streak across the court at Wimbledon yelling, “Oi!! Buy my book!!” That would do it I reckon, now that I think about it. Could be a really good marketing strategy doing something outrageous, or out of the box.
From a purely sales point of view, with limited funds, I think one or two other things might be worth a try. Traditional mail for one. Send out real paper flyers. Have some posters made up. Hire a graffiti artist to splash your name around a bit in the dark of the night – ok that’s not legal – but still… Put out piles of bookmarks with the cover of your book and contact details on it, for people to help themselves to. Buy those chocolates that you can have your own image printed on the outer package. Balloons. Mugs. Whack your cover and info on these too, and hand them out anywhere you can. People love free things, and for those writers not so keen on handing out free copies of their actual books, promotions along these lines might help a bit.
Not many people get to make money selling anything at all without either spending money, a lot of hard graft, or a tangibly superb product. Probably a little of each would be best. Anyway… I’m only about to start the marketing trip, so I’ll just carry on stalking the successful guys, and listen to what they suggest. Pinch nose, close eyeballs, and jump into the fray I go…
Till next time friends.
Bad To The Bone
You’re unlikely to go through life without meeting a really horrible person or two. I’ve come across a couple with no redeeming qualities at all. It’s true that some people really are not nice in any way. I find them just as fascinating as anyone else though – you never know when you can use them in a future storyline. I think writers are many things. We gather all sorts of knowledge in our quests to fill our worlds, and make them real. We research and learn about things that most people wouldn’t give a moment’s thought to. We’re also just as likely as psychologists to say, “And how does that make you feel?”, to a stranger, or listen raptly to the big-mouthed fellow that everyone avoids at a party.
This is the way of the scribbler though. We have to know what makes people tick if we want to write books about them. I’ve always been fascinated with the darker side of the human psyche. I wonder how people get to be the way they sometimes end up. Life hurts some people so badly that they break and stay broken. Some fight their way out of horrendous situations, and emerge as beacons of love and kindness. Then there are others that go the evil route, and become sadists and killers. It’s the ones in between all these things that I find most interesting.
I have two characters in African Me that are just downright bad. I’ve been trying to find ways to give them positive traits to balance out the awful, because I read somewhere that all bad people must have some good in them. So that got me thinking that they might be too bad to be believable. Then it occurred to me that this isn’t actually true. There really are some people rotten to the core. I’ve come across many as I’ve trawled the web looking for insights into human nature. So that’s one editing chore out the way. My baddies will stay just as bad as they are. If what you write feels right to you, then that’s the way you should write it.
Till next time friends. xxx
Hello’s and Goodbye’s
It’s been a bit of an up and down week for me, reader wise. A while ago, I was looking at Free Book Dude. I love his daily lists of freebies on Amazon because they are all author submitted, and sometimes a little out of the box. I like out of the box. He really is a cool dude too, by the way, for those indie friends who would like another cool place to announce their freebies. Contact him a couple of days in advance, and he’ll add you with pleasure – a really lovely man all in all. Anyway.
I spotted a competition for a book giveaway. I’ve never entered any before – if I want a book, I generally just buy it. I haven’t been all that keen on standing in the queue at the bank lately to top up my pay as you go Visa card though, and I’m too much of a coward to see if there’s still anything in it after my latest epic Amazon shops. But I read the author’s bio Taona Dumisani Chiveneko’s Author Page on Amazon – read it – seriously – I bet you you’ll really want to buy the book afterwards. I had to have it, so I entered the competition, knowing that I wouldn’t get the book. Competitions never work for me. And then!
This week I got an email from the author telling me that I’d won! Starstruck – a bit! And there was another lovely guy. Not only do I now have the e-book nestled on my Kindle, he’s sending me the paperback all the way from Canada. It’s as brilliant as it looks, by the way, expect my review soon.
And now I see that my beloved Tom Sharpe has died. This is indeed a huge blow. He was the first really, tears down your face and have to try and cross your legs as you run down the passage to pee author that I’ve read. (Interesting sentence – I know). Thing is – I was pretty serious and radical when I was young. I hated apartheid and the terrible things I saw every day, growing up in South Africa. And being who I was, I had quite a lot to say about it. It really is a miracle that I wasn’t ever arrested by the regime. Then I read Indecent Exposure. It’s rude, offensive, hilarious, and brilliant. But at a deeper level, it helped me to see both sides of what was going on around me. It taught me to shut up, and just quietly do what I could. It’s a grand view of the loony that somehow takes you to the real. I know it’s a bit pricey, but still, if you like irreverent, funny, and yet still somehow real – buy it. Cheers Tom Sharpe – I’ll miss you.
Till next time friends. Xxx