A massive thank you to all who shared my cover reveal post for The Secret Life of People and the request for answers to questions. There has been a HUGE email response and I am very busily answering everyone as well as requesting interviews for future posts with some truly amazing people – and catching up on comments and posts too. If I haven’t answered you yet I promise that it will be by no later than tomorrow. Thank you very much to all of you!
At the same time I am rearranging the layout of the book and adding the results from all of your answers to the questions. I do think that I should have added another question to “Do you believe in life after death?” in the form of “What do you believe happens after death?”, so if anyone feels up to answering that one in the comments or privately it would make me a very happy bunny indeed.
In the few weeks leading to the launch of The Secret Life of People I’m going to be dusting off some of my older books and shorts and putting them on either free promotion or Kindle Countdown deals for anyone who hasn’t read them yet. Currently Echoes of Narcissus and Nkoninkoni are free and African Me & Satellite TV will start its 99 cents Countdown Deal sometime tomorrow if anyone fancies a read. In case you think that Nkoninkoni is some kind of foreign, an especially huge thank you to the very popular author Kevin Cooper for his review of it, which can be found here. While you are there I thoroughly recommend that you start on his own list with a download of Miedo – absolutely brilliant!
Any writer who doesn’t collect books is lacking in the tools of their trade in my opinion. No matter how many degrees you have, or how many times you can insert the words thus and henceforth into your manuscript, if you don’t read a whole lot you are missing in your writerly education. Seeing the words thus and henceforth would stop me reading anything by the way, but that could just be a personal weird quirk I suppose. Chuck Wendig thinks that reading The Lord of the Rings is tantamount to the worst kind of abuse with all the oldy worldy stuff, so I’m not in bad company. Loved the movies. Chuck is fabulous in general and in his honest originality – poop bits notwithstanding. I tend to avoid people who use words like that. Go away users of the word thus! I have a huge collection of books. More than 3000 in my Amazon Cloud alone. The paperbacks that I have are all special though, given that space no longer allows for the piles I had previously accumulated.
I will beat old ladies with sticks at boot sales to lay my hands on a first edition of any sort of recipe book or children’s illustrated book. Among other ancient collections of receipts, as recipes used to be called, I have a first edition Mrs Beeton which is much loved. Apart from the dead parrot recipes and lark’s tongue bits, I love it. Lark’s tongues on the menu – seriously? They are rare (the books – and the lark’s tongues I expect) but finding a really old children’s book in good condition is a much rarer find. Children tend to be a little rough with their books, so they don’t tend to survive as long as recipe books. Looking in general at the children’s books that are most sought after online the other day – as you do, I opened a list of “the most horrible children’s books of all time” thinking that it might be good for a laugh. It was. Then I found lots of people listing The Giving Tree as the most horrible. I had to look.
I tried to read it with an open mind. Some people said that it was a lesson in selflessness. Others said that it had been banned in schools – or libraries – I forget – because it was sexist. I tried really hard to wear my “what we writers write is our business and if you don’t like it you can lump it hat” but I couldn’t keep it on. Adults can mostly see the truth for themselves, apart from those who still think that 50 Shades of Gray is still the best book ever – but children learn from books. In The Giving Tree, the tree loves the man so much that she is prepared to give him anything. He is not backward in coming forward with requests, and soon he has taken her apples, branches, and finally her whole trunk. The fact that the tree is a she and the human is a he might have some meaning, in which case, it is indeed sexist. Finally, the poor tree is left as a stump, and the final illustration in the book is of the man sitting on it.
The overall message I got from this book was that it is loving to be a doormat and take any abuse coming. It is loving to let someone take and take until there is nothing left of you, and then to finally disrespect that nothing by plonking his backside on it. On the other side of the issue, the lesson is – it is fine to take as much as you want from someone who loves you enough to be prepared to give it, no matter how big of a tool you are, and then – when they are all in – it is fine to sit on the bit of them that is left after your selfish depredations. A horrible book indeed.
A couple of years ago I wrote a children’s book (Winnow and Blooey) – even got around to illustrating a few pages – about a little boy who learns how to respect and care for his badly neglected budgie from a fabulous wild canary after getting lost in the woods, and accidentally shrunk when he got hungry enough to eat a wild mushroom. Yes – I know – magic mushrooms are probably not the best subject for kiddies. When I really got around to thinking about it, I was so terrified about leading young minds in dodgy directions that I trashed it right away. Now I am very happy to illustrate for children’s authors who know what they are doing, but not at all ready to take the chance myself. Whoever published The Giving Tree hopefully meant it for adults, although what the actual message was still eludes me. Also – children like picture books if they can lay their hands on them – no matter who they were intended for, so it is generally dangerous to leave lying around. It has 2659 five star reviews on Amazon – over ninety percent loving readers, but so far, it is the first book, ever, that I have considered giving one star. That seems too much to me so I am going to give it my newly minted MINUS TEN STAR PANTS award. Hopefully it will teach the people who read it that it is a book about how not to behave – both as the tree and the human.
Something to Think About – The R’s of Live – Survival in a Modern World – Rejection – A fact of Life by Sally Cronin
Wow! I’ve never thought about the concept of a mental or emotional immune system, but as Sally Cronin – who is an expert on health and wellness – says, it is something we all should work on.
The R’s of Life – Chapter Twelve – Rejection – A Fact of Life
One of life’s certainties is that at some point you are going to be rejected personally or professionally. It can happen at any age and because it is a certainty, it does pay to prepare for it, or if unexpected have some strategies to cope with it.
Rejection is when you are denied something you want, love, need, desire or expect.
Real life is seldom as cut and dried, and certainly less kind when it comes to rejection. This is why you have to boost your mental immune system, the one that keeps depression, despair, low self-esteem and unhappiness at bay. We are bombarded with messages about boosting our physical immune system, by eating our five a day and by avoiding antibiotics, but if you look at the headlines in the magazines and newspapers, you would…
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After a couple of very ‘educational” years, and a whole lot of stress every time I happened to think about my unfinished work, and also my as yet unpublished books lying around gathering dust, I’ve come out the other side quite happy that I did not in fact publish them when I wanted to. It would not have been fun, and publishing a book should always be fun. After a couple of health scares to the point where I assumed that I was on the verge of departing this mortal coil, and stressing over every little thing, I finally realized that not only have I no intention of expiring any time soon, living in fear of the future, the present, or the past, is absolutely useless to anyone. So I decided that as far as my health was concerned, I was going to go herbal, and as far as anything scary was concerned, I was going to go eyeball to eyeball with whatever came up and see who caved first. So far I feel great health-wise with the herbals, and my inner critic and her cohort, the craven one, have gone into hiding. Which is why I am particularly happy that I never got around to publishing my non-fiction book, The Secret Life of People, because I had yet to figure out the final chapter by living it. Now it is almost ready to make its debut and I am more excited about it than anything else I’ve ever written. There are a couple of things I’d like to get a few people’s beliefs on, so I’d be grateful for any answers to the questions below. If you don’t want to put your opinions in the comments I would really appreciate an email via the contact me button above.
Other news is that Cynthia Reyes and her daughter Lauren’s Myrtle the Purple Turtle has already begun her third adventure, and it is, of course, just as fabulous as that little turtle’s adventures always are. I’m getting caught up quicker than I thought possible and very happy that my online friends are still going strong, and also still talking to me after my long absence. Here goes with the questions.
1. Do you believe that you are living a fulfilled life?
2. Do you think that people have a purpose, and if so, do you know what yours is?
3. Are you satisfied with the way the world and your country is governed?
4. Do you think that civilised societies today are on the right track?
5. If you work, are you happy with your job?
6. If money was no object, what would you do with your days?
7. Do you believe in life after death or reincarnation?
8. Do you believe that there will be consequences for good or evil acts?
9. Do you or someone that you know have problems with anxiety or depression?
Thank you for the wonderful review Kevin – also back to the bloggerverse and looking forward to fun chats again! ❤
For many years Suzette has managed very well to live her life without actually taking part in it, avoiding any possibility of pain by very carefully ignoring reality. Until something happens. Something so terrible that she has no choice but to abandon her cocoon of safety.
After the brutal beating of an elderly domestic worker, Suzette takes her in, and sets off a chain of events that leads to devastating heartbreak. And an unexpected hero changes everything. Finally finding her voice, she speaks out, and her world explodes, culminating in the death of a very special man.
On her path to make amends, she discovers the story of his life, connects with the people of his past, and finds the chance to fully live her life once again if that’s what she chooses to.
A truly remarkable and beautiful story. I was drawn to this book because my great…
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A great loss to the world. Mira and I were good friends a while ago when I was active every day online. We read each other’s books and chatted on our blogs. Mira is the author of the fabulous book The Whip of the Wild Gods and others. She was a brilliant author who wove wisdom and life into fiction in ways that was not only inspired but hugely inspiring. I thought she was a bit of a genius when I read that book. She was hilarious too, and down to earth. I’ll never forget how hard I laughed when she told me about the time she learned that smiling at wild monkeys while eating anything was a bad idea when she ended up getting pounced on by one and losing her snack. Thank you for posting this wonderful memorial to her memory and may her journeys always be filled with love as she lights the way for others from where she is now. Rest in peace fabulous Mira Prabhu.
Mira Prabhu is now free from the torment of physical suffering caused by her cancer. Death claimed Mira at a young age when she was on the verge of becoming well known for her writings and spiritual novels. Mira left her body on January 6, 2019, in Chennai, India.
Mira was a beautiful soul with a kind heart and I felt her warmth and love that she naturally had for Bhagavan Ramana devotees. We used to post each other’s blog posts on our respective blog sites. Mira often shared my FB posts on her wall. She was always generous in her comments and very supportive as we were both Bhagavan Ramana devotees.
Mira was a prolific and gifted writer. She was also a yogini and mystic. She was a devotee of Bhagavan Ramana and also followed Nisargadatta Maharaj’s teachings. Mira had been living close to the Holy Hill of Arunachala…
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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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