Gordon Ramsay

Funny Typos

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The suppliers of South Africa’s electricity are very happy with their loadshedding these days. The lights are going out whenever they fancy – sometimes up to three times a day, which is a large pain when you live online. Not to mention that winter’s pretty much here, and my feathered horde don’t take kindly to life without heat. Button’s taken to sitting next to me on my chair for leg warmth, with Jelly now a lap bird and the parrots feather boas. Anyway, moving unreasonably on to the totally unrelated topic of typos.
Button Singing
Not all typos are created equal. I know that some people are infuriated having a single one assault their sensibilities, but I think that some of them are so much more fun than the real word they’re impersonating. The problem is that sometimes after seeing a particularly cool one, they can put the brakes on anything else you’re trying to get done.
I was zooming through a fairly serious book for research purposes, when I was Earth-stoppingly (not a typo) struck by a little typo that now refuses to leave my mind, surfacing all the time and stopping me from doing anything constructive. A couple of typos in the books I read don’t generally bother me, and neither did the fact that this book had a typo in it. It’s the actual typo itself that won’t go away because of my weird and abnormal sense of humour. I know it’s weird and abnormal, because every time it strikes, and I’m laughing so hard that I cry, people always look at me in confusion when I try and share the funny – which is probably what you’re about to be doing right now. In this case it was –
Wonton Destruction
Wonton Destruction
Images of wontons being destroyed keep pushing my own sentences right out of my head. Destruction of wontons by flood, fire, and terrible cruelty. Even if I could eat gluten without fear of much pain and illness, I don’t think I could ever eat a wonton again. Crunching the poor little guys up – wanton wonton destruction. Perhaps there’s a whole world out there somewhere in the multiverse, where wontons exist peacefully, trotting about on their little legs and reciting beautiful wonton prose, but unbeknown to them, a fleet of spacecraft is preparing to enter their atmosphere carrying thousands of alien wanton wonton destroyers. Good! I think I’ve got it out of my system now by sharing it with you. Thank you.
I think that in a couple of years Indie books are going to be much less likely to have editing issues than traditionally published books, because of the need to prove ourselves up to the actual work of publishing. Gordon Ramsay with his name spelled wrong in the front matter of his memoir is alright for him, but as an Indie you would get properly pummelled for getting your own name wrong in your book. Even Stephen King had a problem in one of his short stories – Autopsy Room Four – which I absolutely LOVED until I got to the bit about an American golfer being bitten by a Peruvian Boomslang. My beloved Stephen actually mentions how much he enjoyed putting that imaginary snake in the story, because he loved the name Boomslang. Most people probably won’t see a research problem there unless you’re a South African King fan (and we are LEGION by the way), and know that Boomslang is an Afrikaans language word meaning tree snake, so any Peruvian snake is highly unlikely to be called by that particular moniker. You’d think that a top editor for one of the most legendary authors on the planet would have picked that up, but still not a big deal for him. The new breed of Indie would have researched a little more, I like to think, and not made that mistake.
So. After sharing all of these highly intellectual things with you, thereby proving that I really am a very, very serious author type person, back to work for me. Before the lights go out again.

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.


Getting it Write

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I think the malaria is gone for now – won’t know for sure till Tuesday when the last course of tablets is done. But I’m vertical, and must be on the mend, so that’s that in the illness department for now. Being sick generally makes me angry. I don’t feel sorry for myself. I tend towards rather vicious thoughts of what I’d do to whatever it is that’s ailing me, if I could only lay my hands on it/them. Right now I’m in a good mood, thinking about all those rotten parasites dying tiny horrible chemical deaths. Not normal, I know.

I would estimate that it’s going to take me a couple of weeks to catch up, work and social networking wise. But that’s alright, I think, I always do. I used to believe that if I never blogged for a day, or if I didn’t answer a comment or message immediately, that people would be appalled at my laziness/arrogance, and immediately unfriend me, cursing the day they’d ever come across me. Some did, I think, but they aren’t important, and the loss of them might not be a terrible thing. I don’t think badly of any of my friends when they disappear from the radar for a while, or if they’re not sitting eyeball to monitor, twenty four hours a day, purely on the off-chance that they might miss a comment I leave on a status of theirs. They’ll get around to it when they can, and if they don’t, that’s cool with me too.

Life happens to all of us with varying intensity at different times. Why shouldn’t we be there for people we like, just because they’re not around every day? The Indie scribbler’s life is wild enough without having to worry about that sort of thing also. We’re only human. And most of us came here with just a story or two, and no clue of how hard it would be to keep up. Even if we stop cooking, cleaning and bathing, there will still be stuff left undone. Generally your poor old manuscript at the bottom of the to-do list. We’re not professional bloggers, marketers, or publishers. We’re all just doing the best that we can. I get that, and so should anyone on the self publishing merry-go-round. I believe that with time things get easier, but unless you have a virtual assistant or two, and nothing ever happens in your real life, we all fall down now and then. But, we get up. And our friends are still there. And off we zoom again.

With the really weird, and often horrible, trip I’ve been on this last year, particularly these past few months, of being more off than on, I’ve found that the circle of friends I have in the old world wide web are the coolest friends indeed. Wonderful friends who support each other, and very likely we always will. The users and takers fall away over time, and when they do, you generally realise that they gave you nothing, and you were giving more than they deserved anyway. Really good people don’t whine or bale, and those are the ones that are important. To me anyway.

I did a lot of snoozing this last week. I generally pop out of bed around four am, and then zoom through my days, till I totally run out of steam, conk out, and repeat. I like being busy. All this enforced snoozing, and lack of activity, got the old grey matter agitated. It brought African Me fully to the forefront of my mind, with the question, “Why the hell are you taking so long to publish it?”, popping up every time I woke up. I’ve gone over this book literally hundreds of times, tweaking, changing, deleting. But still, every time I think it’s ready for the big wide world, something puts the brakes on in my subconscious, and then I’m off to page one again, convinced that I’ve missed something.

When I woke up yesterday morning, I realised that the only thing that’s preventing this book from being published is fear. Mine. The main character in African Me has quite a lot to say throughout the book, but particularly, a couple of harsh things in the beginning. The things she says are controversial, to say the least. I must have had the fear of being personally attributed with my character’s words lurking in the back of my mind all this time. So I put the question to the guys at our Readers Meet Authors and Bloggers community on Google+. Their answers really got me thinking. Should I change things, take out things that might cause anger? Should I type my disclaimer in capitals, and in red letters, then let loose the book, and hope I don’t get stomped on? Or bin the whole thing? Last night I was toying with the changing or the binning. The letting loose suddenly seemed a little too scary to do at all.

Then this morning, the first blog I happened to open was Stephannie Beman’s. She’d seen a question from a writer, asking how he could get the joy of writing back. He’d lost it – lost his mojo, poor guy. She very cleverly figured out that his problem wasn’t writer’s block, but that he was trying to write what he thought, or others thought, that readers wanted to read, and not what he wanted to write. Her blog post was called Writing For Yourself First. Light-bulb moment for me!

I think that in this last year, I’ve totally forgotten what it was that started me writing this book. And maybe now a little of every little thing that I do is strongly angled towards not getting up anyone’s nostril, or rocking any boats. Terrified of people hopping not only on the one star nasty train on Amazon, but also terrified of hurting any feelings. The possibility of both offending or hurting all sorts of feelings exists with this book. But there’s also the possibility of opening a couple of eyeballs to the truth. The funny thing is that it’s got nothing to do with politics, or even so much what’s been happening in Zimbabwe in recent years. It’s purely fiction, happening in Zimbabwe, with the thread of South African apartheid, and its legacy running through it. Still. My delaying tactics have clearly been brought on by fear that I was moving too far away from what people want to read. Or know about. I was scared to either hurt or anger people around here also.

Then, as the universe does, it made sure that the very next blog I opened showed me that my cowardice sucked. This young man showed me that. His story isn’t what African Me is about, but his courage in speaking his mind made me ashamed at even considering bowing to what ifs. Even though the only theme of importance in my book is racism, strong points of view from all angles and current affairs seem to have crept into it, so I risk making quite a lot of people on all sides of several fences quite cross indeed. So be it.

I’ve decided. I’ll not be doing any socially, or politically correct, tweaking and editing any more. I had something I was trying to share when I wrote this story. A point I wanted to get across. So that’s what I’ll be doing. That’s the thing with life. You really don’t have to read anything, or look at anything you don’t want to. Except on Facebook, that is. That’s your choice again. If you don’t want to take a chance on seeing anything disturbing, don’t join it. As an example, there people share those awful pictures of geese being force-fed, or bleeding after having their chest feathers regularly plucked out for down pillows and comforters. People get well freaked out and yell at the sharers for bringing down their day. That’s the nature of Facebook though, you can’t necessarily expunge from your brain what pops up under your eyeball. I’ve seen lots of things there that made me want to expunge my actual eyeballs at the time. But I’m not sorry that I’ve seen them. I believe people should know what, and who, makes up the world they live in. That’s your personal choice though. My personal trip doesn’t include avoidance, and if there is ever anything I can do for those poor goose guys, apart from not buying down or eating fois gras, I’d be really quite keen on doing it. Especially if it involves doing what they’ve done to the doers. Anyway. The book stays as it is.

Obviously as writers we want people to read our books. Buy our books. So we zoom around madly, finding out about marketing, market trends, WHAT PEOPLE WANT. Well. I figure that seeing as how I’m a people too, I have first dibs on what at least some people want. You can never give everyone what they want, so why stress about it. I’ll never make a million bucks writing a Zombie Meets Elf, Who Whups His Crumbling Bum into a Frenzy of Pixie Dust, erotica book. Not that I have anything against that sort of thing. People like it. And I certainly wouldn’t mind making a million bucks. I just can’t write that way. I can only write the way I do. It could be that the way I write is really crap. Only time will tell. I’m still very new to this game. But at least if I get blasted, it won’t be for trying to do something I don’t have the talent or ability to do. As Stephannie says, there’s no point in writing at all, if you’re not writing for yourself first.

This post is longer than my usual, but I have been absent a bit, so I hope I’m forgiven. I just zoomed through my unfollowers on Twitter. I get as much pleasure zapping them with my own unfollow button as I do squishing rotten little stinging insects. They follow you, and being a normal, polite Tweep, you follow them back. Then, when they’ve amassed 40 000 followers, they just unfollow 39 900 of them leaving them with an account which makes them look AWESOME! At least they think so. Just like Bieber. I’m not sure if they then sell these accounts, or keep them for themselves, believing that anyone with half a brain cell is going to think that they’re the coolest thing since white bread. Rotten little time wasting tools. Maybe there’s something wrong with me, but unless I really, really, really, want to hear what you have to say, I’m not going to follow you on Twitter if you don’t follow me back. And if you have tens of thousands of followers, and are following ten, I’m not going to follow you to begin with. I’m still pissed off at Gordon Ramsay for not answering a tweet I sent him. I unfollowed him immediately, and considered for a moment removing him from my book! Hah! Only for a moment though. I couldn’t come up with a replacement tv chef quite as outrageous as he. Still. He now has ONE less follower. And he doesn’t know I watch every episode of Ramsay’s Hotel Hell after all. So…

Till next time friends.


The Mighty Jungle

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The closer the publication date for African Me & Satellite TV comes, the more nervous I’m getting. The unusual thing about the editing of this particular book is probably that it’s not typos that worry me as much as getting arrested, stalked and pelted with eggs, or generally attracting the interest of secret agencies around and about.

One of the lightest things about it has been my argument with Princess. Intrepid cook, vocal contributor of gems of knowledge on any subject at all, and loud detractor of any sort of animal abuse. My argument really is her obsession with Gordon Ramsay. I’m fond of watching cooking programmes myself, but my tastes run more to Rick Stein, Guy Fieri, Jamie Oliver, and of course Nigella, mainly for her good taste in footwear. I do admit to enjoying watching Gordon abuse restaurateurs and hotel owners – but that’s only because absolute rudeness and terminally foul language make me giggle. I don’t like his endorsement of certain foods obtained in ways that are unbelievably inhumane – inhuman really. But that’s not what my point is today. Princess refuses to give in and let me change her crush to a less controversial chef. So I suppose I have to accept that we can like people in general without agreeing with all of their beliefs. Simple. Gordon stays.

Not so simple are the rest of the people in this story. Their strong views from all angles on racism from both sides of the fence, and the graphic descriptions of actual and possible events will most certainly draw some flack I’m thinking. I just hope that any powers that be who may perchance lay their hands on a copy will read it right through before hoiking out the handcuffs and heading forth into the African wilds to have a little chat with me about – things. That’s the problem with this proofing. When I say that this story wrote itself, I really mean it, and no matter how hard I try to tweak things in it – only looking out for my innocent hide – it just won’t be tweaked. So. I’ll concentrate on the grammar. And of course the poems. These are not going so well I’m afraid to say. Amazon will be pleased at all my “How To Write Poetry” purchases though. These books haven’t helped at all. Once again these things are writing themselves, and they’re more ode-ish than anything else.

On the subject of Amazon. It has a lot of critics. Writers complain of the percentage of their royalties that big A takes, the removal of reviews and tag buttons, and all sorts of other real or perceived affronts. I still say that the opportunity to instantly publish a book, for all the world to read, is something worth paying for. If agents were lining up at your door, waving fat advance cheques and booking you a slot on Oprah, you probably wouldn’t be using Amazon as your first choice to publish I’m thinking. Having said that, pretty much all of the great and famous writers have their books there now. So you’re in pretty good company. Yes, it requires quite a lot of hard work to even get your book to the notice of readers of the millions of books available out there. But that’s a choice you make. You don’t have to. You could try the traditional route, get discovered, and knock J K Rowling right off her perch. Unlikely for all though.

Imagine for a minute that all the self-publishing houses were to disappear. There would be a lot of dusty manuscripts in bottom drawers, never to be read by a soul. So I bravely say – I really do love Amazon. I don’t mind their cut of my royalties. I don’t mind doing the work. And I love the people who have bought and read my writing. You may not be millions, and I may not be rich and famous, but that’s never been what my trip has been about anyway. If one person reads and enjoys any book I write, then I say my job is done. That’s probably the reason for my blog obsession. I love reading blogs, and probably spend far too many hours of my days doing just that. Without expectation of financial gain bloggers, to me, are classic authors. They write to share what they’re passionate about. They don’t care about “show don’t tell” or “dialogue, dialogue, dialogue!!” So – stop whinging author guys, and appreciate the fact that you have the best job in the world, and the opportunity to share your work with a large chunk of the occupants of that world. Do the work, and with a bit of luck, you will reap the rewards.

Gratitude to Amazon for being my publisher, and kudos also for publishing all the old classics, and leaving them permanently free. It’s nice to know that those stories will never be lost. I love the fact that when I’m just a memory, my books will be there in their virtual home, and my worlds will be visited, and my people heard, long after I’ve laid claim to my personal cloud and harp. I do wonder sometimes about those lonely writers who’ve published books, and then depart this mortal coil unnoticed and un-mourned – it does happen I’m afraid to say. Do their books lurk in Amazon’s maze forever? And who gets their royalties?

AM Cover V1 - Copy (2) Smashwords