africolonialstories

It’s Read Tuesday!

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Today is Read Tuesday guys. A day for me to release my inner book glutton and load up my Kindle with piles of discounted and free books. There are some awesome authors on this list, so click here – Read Tuesday – and get shopping. And don’t forget the bookworms in your life this Christmas – check out this post on how to gift an ebook from Misha Burnett.

My African Me & Satellite TV is discounted on all major Amazon sites. It’s 99 cents on Amazon.com, and equal currencies on Amazon.uk, and the rest. Also on Smashwords. Shadow People is also 99 cents on Amazon.com, Amazon UK, and Smashwords. My short story, The Visitation is free today on Amazon.com and Amazon UK.

I’d be most grateful to any of my friends who would share this news anywhere at all. Now – I’m off on a book binge – happy shopping!

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Nelson Mandela 1918 – 2013

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Nelson Mandela 1918 - 2013

Celebrate His Life

As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
Nelson Mandela
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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.
Nelson Mandela
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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.
Nelson Mandela
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Resentment is like drinking a poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.
Nelson Mandela
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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.
Nelson Mandela
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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.
Nelson Mandela
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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
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We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, handsome, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?
Nelson Mandela

Last Rant Ever – Promise! – Well –

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Just to clarify my last post. Ever since I went on my cleanup campaign I’ve been on a mission to do everything right as far as internet ethics are concerned. I’ve been following what I’ve obviously wrongly construed was the online etiquette for small self-published scribblers. I’m not talking about the websites of guys who tweet or blog about belly busting humour, or offer sound eating advice, like my namesake and Google page one nemesis, Jo Robinson, author of Eat Wild. Fashion blogs, hilarious Twitter accounts, and advice columnists are welcome to my slavish following, and I wouldn’t expect their notice any more than I would expect Dan Brown to pop in for tea and biscuits. The same applies to readers, amazing friends who happen to also be tireless and supportive book blogger’s, and other innocents who are supplying a much needed service to the millions of unknown independent writers out there.

I saw a blog rant a while ago where someone said that people who go around “liking” blog posts without commenting are basically sycophantic tools. I like to leave a “like” to let the blogger know that I’ve read and liked what they have to say. I think it shows my interest and support. What’s the “like” button for if not to like? Why should I have to think up a comment when I don’t really have anything in particular to say, but still enjoyed what I read? Regardless of my current temper-driven wordiness, I am terminally shy, and I have an underlying fear of saying something – however seemingly innocent – that will end up with some sort of wrath being rained down on my head. It has happened. Liking is a lot safer. There are so many nebulous blogging, tweeting and general “how to behave online” rules that the mind boggles.

This is how I see things. There are blog and Twitter sites that have a million followers and follow back three only – their granny, their BFF and one other site that is so awesome that it doesn’t follow even them back. That’s cool – nothing wrong with that. They have no need to make friends and influence people, and I’m more than happy to follow their awesomeness because they really are rock stars. Then you have the indie writers. There are millions of us. Some have achieved some level of success, and have so many followers that it would be impossible to have a squiz at what their fans are up to. That’s cool too. Happy to follow for gems of advice or some of Chuck Wendig’s hilarious F-bomb humour. Some try, like Toby Neal and Hugh Howey – he actually will try to answer or respond to his fans every time. Lovely guy. Then you have the small indie writers who make the time to interact with their entire following on every site – this is me – and apparently this is the wrong way to go about things. Good thing to find out because it’s tiring.

I don’t know. I’m probably wrong again. I generally am. I wonder what we’re up to though. I do feel that any other small member of the millions strong indie scribbler club, who takes the time out of his or her hectic life to notice me long enough to follow me on any site, or like anything I have to say, deserves the same attention from me. My rant was directed purely at my own club, by the way. Small self-published writers, struggling to be noticed. I do get the concept of content blogging that’s so awesome, you don’t ever need to follow back or interact. But not all blogs are that brilliant, and some indie authors end up stuck in an incestuous group of fellow indie buddies who they solely interact with, ignoring all new comers, and grandly accepting new followers in the manner of established famous writers. This is probably cool too. They could be hobbyists, and genuinely not care about what their followers and fans are up to. That’s what they do for fun. They have a place to hang out with their pals. Then again, I believe that the world of self publishing is a totally new animal. Logically it doesn’t make sense to convince yourself that you’re already big enough to sit back and accept any love coming your way without reciprocating, when it’s obvious that you aren’t. When you are unknown and not selling thousands of books every day, why on Earth would you pretend to be doing that very thing? Reach out and make new friends. Help, or at least interact once or twice, with new friends and followers.

Am I doing it all wrong? Am I giving the wrong impression by taking an interest in those who take an interest in me? Am I a terminal groupie? Probably. Anyway. I won’t ever stop loving those great blogs who make me laugh every day, or those of famous scribblers who teach me about writing or blogging, and certainly not those of those guys who tirelessly support indie writers with little or no benefit to themselves, and most of all my friends – my indie writer friends who do the work, write, market, and still take the time out of their lives to notice others who take the time out of their lives to give them a boost, a word of encouragement, or just a simple “like” now and then.

So…. This is what I’ve figured out:
1. Everyone has different reasons for interacting on the old interweb.
2. They’re all entitled to their opinions.
3. It’s not my place to crap on anyone for doing what they’re doing.
4. I’m entitled to my opinion too, and I need to wo/man up and act accordingly.

My original intent for this blog was to post excerpts from a fictional character’s diary. That never worked out, but I found that I loved blogging in general and interacting with other bloggers around the world. Not just book bloggers, but bloggers who scribble about all sorts of things.

New Rules for Me:
1. I will always try to interact with my followers, and see what they’re up to, even if it’s only occasionally, and even on the snowball in hell chance of me ever becoming a famous scribbler.
2. I will continue to slavishly follow the funny and informative guys even though they ignore me or sometimes respond to my comments in hilariously rude and offensive ways.
3. I will always support in any way those awesome bloggers who give their friendship and talent freely and lovingly.
4. I will no longer interact with bloggers that I’m trying to interact with in a mutually beneficial way if the interaction isn’t mutually beneficial. My likes and shares are probably irritations to them anyway, and there just aren’t enough hours in the day.
5. I will not be afraid to share my opinions just because they’re a little different, and because they are likely to get me unfollowed in droves.

An Opinion:
Beginning with a fact or two – 95% of traditionally published authors ever, sell fewer than 500 copies of any given book. 98% of self published authors sell fewer than 5 books other than to friends and family. Considering the millions of self published books, the two percent that do is actually quite a lot of scribblers. Most wallow in that 98 percentile chasm. So, unless you actually are part of the awesome 2% club, and even so, why on Earth would you ignore a potential ally? That opinion’s just from a marketing perspective, and not my main reason for blogging. I do it because I enjoy it. I especially enjoy that the bloggers I follow interact with me as a person, and appreciate my comments and interest in what they have to say. And unless they are in fact Hugh Howey, I enjoy seeing their opinions on my humble opinions now and then. That’s what I believe, and that’s what I’m going to carry on doing, together with my friends and any other followers who didn’t squeeze their nostrils shut and jump ship following my original whinge. I’m just going to carry on being me, and even though I obviously will carry on following blogs that really interest me on a non-writer level, like recipe, real life issues, ghosties and funnies, without for a second expecting any of them to notice me, I’m not going to carry on supporting small indie writers struggling up the ladder, unless I really do think that they are the next Phillipa Gregory if they don’t return that support.

Namaste.

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Foul Play

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I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Nigella Lawson programme that I didn’t like, and I’m sure I’ve seen most of them. I really enjoy spending time in the kitchen. Cooking is a favourite hobby, and so is watching foodie programmes on TV. I love Gordon Ramsay’s toe-curling rudeness and Guy Fieri’s anaconda-like ability to unhinge his jaw and pop massive burgers in his mouth.

Earlier this year I really felt for Nigella when I saw the photos of her husband, Charles Saatchi, throttling her and horribly twisting her nose for all to see in a restaurant. Such appalling behaviour, and justifiable by absolutely nothing. He originally attempted to condone this unforgivable behaviour by saying that she regularly did these things to him. Sorry lovely guy, but nobody’s going to be able to picture Nigella throttling anyone. Now, in the true form of gentlemen everywhere, he’s calling her “Higella” and trying very hard to completely trash her reputation by spreading the word that she’s some sort of rotten, spaced out, drug addict who encourages her daughter Cosima to snort cocaine.

He laid charges against her two personal assistants, Elisabetta and Francesca Grillo, last year after he found out that they’d been having a ball with his credit card – to the tune of £300 000. They used various reasons for their thievery, including the fact that they used some of the money to buy up piles of his own books – on HIS instruction – to give them a boost in the league tables. WHAT?! Then, after not mentioning a word until about a month ago, Mr Saatchi receives notice of a new statement from the felonious two that Nigella was totally cool with them using her credit cards to stock up on their Chanel and Prada collections, just as long as they kept mum about the fact that she and her daughter spent their days smoking pot, sniffing cocaine and taking prescription pills.

I really hope that any books he published, and is apparently in the process of buying up for himself, aren’t whodunits, because any scribbler, and most people with the smallest capacity of logical thought should be able to see exactly what’s going on. Seriously? Nigella on drugs? I don’t believe it for a second. You don’t get to build an empire the way she has when you’re stoned out of your mind all the time. And that’s a pretty big secret to keep from your husband for ten years, which he claims she did. Not many real addicts are likely to encourage their children to join them on their painful trip, and anyone as obviously loving of her brood, and more than intelligent enough to know just how bad that would be, is most definitely not going to do anything as stupid as that.

Just goes to show that money and power can’t make people believe that you’re a nice fella, no matter how loudly you tell the world that your wife is a horrible junkie. To be honest, the thing that really got up my nostril and made me pay attention was the bit about him buying his own books to push himself up the rankings. FOUL! FOUL! Even though I don’t believe that she has done any of the awful things he’s accusing her of, I’m pretty sure that I for one would turn to hard liquor at the very least if I was married to someone like that. Anyway. I’m sure that Nigella Lawson will make it through this horrible attack, and come out smiling and with her head held high on the other side of what is clearly a vengeful plan to terminally embarrass her.

Cheese

Pardon?!

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I’m not sure if it was my admission to being a techie dimwit, but all of a sudden I’ve got piles of Spam with the letters RSS in it. Not to mention bullies holding forth around and about. For example:

Hello!! Achieve you get condition they make few plugins to avoid with explore engine optimisation?? I’m irritating to get my blog to rank in support of some under fire keywords but I’m not considering fantastically sunny gains. Condition to identify of any satisfy distribute. Be thankful for it!!! I’m attempting to live talented to enrol in the RSS feeds excluding cannot figure it out. A quantity of assistance will be present awe-inspiring. Thanks!!!

Well… I couldn’t have said it better myself. Quite right you are dear Spammy. The internet never ceases to amaze me. I suppose that it’s similar to “real life” where you get thieves and violent hoods who get up to nasty physical shenanigans. These guys are on the same level of pond life in the virtual world. I don’t know if these blog messages are harmful – I’m sure that they could be if you approved them. I think it was blog spam that ended in me having to bin a perfectly good computer because of one of those guys that worm in and hijack your system to beam out who knows what onto the world wide web, so I’m a bit more careful now with regular scans and so on.

Then there are the meany trolls who pop up on threads in various groups around and about, and viciously attack some poor innocent for no reason at all. This seems to me particularly true in writers groups. You’ll have one guy who just knows he could write Stephen King under the table and out of the door, and he will just as soon as he finishes his seven year edit on his first chapter. He will pick any random post and rip it apart, often insulting the scribbler of said post at a much deeper level. If this sort of thing isn’t nipped right in the bud I believe it can cause much harm to the person so attacked. This could totally shatter a newbie’s confidence.

Group moderators who condone this behaviour by continuing such “discussions”, and thereby giving credence to this troll’s vitriol are just as much to blame. Nope. There is never a place for this sort of behaviour and it is the job of moderators and admins to stop it right there. If what someone has posted offends you so deeply that you want to poke your own eyeballs out, get in touch with a moderator and tell them. Don’t just let rip with something like, “You rotten, disgusting, pompous idiot. My scrofulous green toenail has more talent…..”. Have a little compassion.

I don’t believe that ripping anyone to shreds in any public environment makes you look any better. Kind advice, well worded and not intended to insult goes much further. When I see that type of thing on any group I’m involved in, my blood boils, and I have to generally walk away for a bit to prevent myself sinking to levels best not plumbed and blasting the nasty sod off the face of the planet.

I reckon we should all stop taking ourselves so seriously that we feel justified in spamming and trolling – or whatever you want to call it. If the spammers spent as much time as they do spamming doing honest work, and used their tech savvy to try and build something instead of breaking things down, and the trolls spent more time eyeballing the boulders in their own eyeballs before spending so much time on the specks in others, they might get to create something brilliant and have people actually like and respect them, rather than quivering in terror whenever they enter a room. Life is just way too short. Now. I’m off to smell the roses. Flowers. Stuff.

Succulent Flowers

The Writing Prompt

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I haven’t had time for writing or spending much time at my computer for a while. Things are settling down slowly, but still a bit hectic for the next couple of weeks – then hopefully all will be tranquil in the land of Jo, and I can get some work done. If I manage 10 000 words on the NaNoWriMo this year I’ll actually be quite proud of myself. Doubtful though. Anyway. I spotted a writing prompt that got my scribbling mojo briefly interested.

WRITING PROMPT: The benefits to the Earth brought about by humanity living on it.

Um. Ummmmmm.
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OK – got one! The Mushroom Death Suit. Cool! A suit infused with flesh eating fungus spores to help with all the decomposition and – stuff – whatever goes on six feet under after our souls blithely trip off through the pearly gates.
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The suit’s inventor, Jae Rhim Lee, educated these mushroomy little guys to develop a taste for munching on a bit of human by feeding them bits of herself – skin, nails, hair, oozy bits – you get the picture.
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She maintains that mushrooms are environmental cleaning heroes, and that this sort of “person disposal” is all to the good of a green planet. Well. Fair enough. What do I know? I’m not a scientist. Still. This whole business just gives me the willies. We now have real live flesh eating fungus on the planet. Mushroom spores like to travel, and the little fellows are pretty good at it. Things like to evolve, adapt, kick up their games. Black mould is already partial to a bit of human lung, so hopefully these fellows won’t get together with the flesh eating ‘shrooms and make some whoopee. Mushroom Zombie Apocalypse. Anyway. We’ll just have to wait and see if future Earth ends up looking like a big giant porcini hanging around idly in space, waiting for some unsuspecting little green alien to pop over for tea.
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I don’t think wild animals are prone to as much sickness and disease as we are if they’re left in their own untainted environments. They just get on with things. Unfortunately we’re far too clever to just get on with things. We like to make cool stuff. I bet you ten magic beans that most of the deadly viruses around uttered their first goo-goo ga-ga’s in a lab secreted away in some innocuous looking building somewhere. We have pigs, mice, rabbits and other creatures that have been genetically modified with human DNA. Whatever the reasons were to do these things were – well – I don’t really care. It’s just not right. Think up ways to fix the climate guys – or any of the other things that we’ve already broken before creating mushrooms that enjoy eating us.
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Anyway. Back to square one and my writing prompt. Now. Let’s see what we got. We….
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Sometime later….
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Later still…..
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Ummmmmmm…..
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New writing prompt needed.

Guest in the Hut – Ryan Peter

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My guest blogger today is the lovely and talented Ryan Peter. Ryan is a writer, journalist and ghostwriter from Johannesburg, South Africa. He writes fantasy and sci-fi and anything to do with the “weird” while he enjoys conversing (and writing, of course) on topics such as faith and theology. His books are widely available at Amazon and other major online retailers. His fantasy epic, “When Twins War” is the first in his “The Rise of the Kings” series and is now available wherever good books are sold.
Ryan Peter

Using Pictures for Inspiration

by Ryan Peter

It’s amazing how important a good book cover really is. And it amazes me how much a picture doesn’t just “say a thousand words” but can inspire infinitely more!

When I was a young boy I remember sitting in my grandparents’ house and dreaming over the many books in the bookshelves, looking at the pictures and getting this sense of Something. A Mystery speaking to me. The same sort of experience I believe C.S. Lewis refers to as ‘Joy’ in his biography “Surprised by Joy”. Or what another author, John Eldredge, calls “The Haunting.”

The sense of story and wonder. The excitement of ‘story’. Something about a picture that speaks to your deepest senses and gives you a sense of something bigger, something more grand, something wholly more awesome than yourself – and this feeling, this inkling, that somehow you’re a part of that something as well.

The feeling of a grand story, of which you play a part. The wonder of it all. Where you’re actually not even the hero, but you get to be around the hero, watching them take on dragons and space monsters of all kinds.

It’s this sense of awe and wonder, of mystery and possibility, that I have found to be the inspiration for all my writings – whether it’s fiction or non-fiction. I want to capture something about the depth of what I feel into words. It seems that there’s no better way to truly capture that thing, whatever it is, than to invoke it through the medium of story.

Many book covers and book illustrations have awakened that feeling in me, as well as some notable music albums as well. For example, JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings has often had some notable covers that evoke that feeling. My favourite is pictured below. The ability for his writing to do that as well is part of what I think has made his story so successful.

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Something about the covers on the Jack Aubrey seafaring novels from Patrick O’Brian do too. It’s like every picture in this series inspires you to imagine some grand, seafaring, swashbuckling, treasure-looting story – and interesting Long John Silver characters to go along with it. Although, the books are a far different animal altogether compared to Treasure Island!

Aubrey_novel_The-Yellow-Admiral

Recently, a school invited me to speak to its students about making writing a career. For the matriculants, I highlighted some fantastic moments in journalism (showing a clip from the original interview between David Frost and Richard Nixon, where Nixon finally admits he felt he was above the law). For the younger kids, however, I went in with three different pictures – one of a space ship on fire; another of a tiny figure of a man with a sword facing a giant, menacing eagle; and another of the fiery, red-head female space commander from the popular video game series Mass Effect. I showed the kids each of the pictures and asked them to construct stories on the fly – to look at the pictures and just say whatever came to mind.

Boy, did they get going! Immediately they all started coming up with some of the most fantastic ideas! Some of the kids who were notably silent earlier also began to lose their inhibitions, adding to the conversation. The teacher was delighted to see her kids exercising their imagination in such a wonderful way and getting excited about writing their next creative writing test! They really loved the exercise, all showing clear disappointment when we had to end it due to time.

I realised then that it’s not only me who is an explorer at heart but that this is common to us all. The job of a storyteller is to take us back to those feelings of awe and mystery and excitement we all feel, even from when we’re small, and remind us all again that the world is indeed a dangerous, difficult place… but it is also a beautiful, wonderful place, where we can all answer that Haunting which comes to us at the most interesting times. And we all have our own story to live within it.

Thank you Ryan for your most cool and inspiring words!

http://www.amazon.com/When-Twins-First-Prelude-Kings-ebook/dp/B005FDV41G/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1383652742&sr=1-1&keywords=when+twins+war+by+ryan+peters

About the book:

“The sun set and the cold night came, but Soi’labi still wailed and wept, lying on his face in the dust. His people could do nothing to help him, and could do nothing to stop the burning. They all watched in horror as the great covenant of over a thousand years between the Twin Cities had come to utter desolation.”

The covenant between the twin desert cities of Iza-Kiêrre and Ben-Kiêrre is broken and their war is feared to be a prophetic sign that the Moncoin has returned.

Tarkanyon the Outlander has been tasked to forge peace between the cities. But when he is embroiled in events that include the return of the Wealth; events that hint that he, himself, may have this ancient magic; his mission becomes filled with more questions and answers as nothing is truly as it seems.

When Twins War is a mix of classic Western fantasy with Arabian Nights adventure and a unique African edge

Find Ryan on Twitter: http://twitter.com/RyanPeterWrites, on his website at http://www.ryanpeterwrites.com or on Google+ where the coolest people hang out https://plus.google.com/u/0/101386033533331191985/

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