The Joy of Kindles

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It is impossible to look anywhere now without Covid-19 and its effects being right there in your face, except of course when you manage to lose yourself in a good movie or book. At this point most of us have realised that we can’t choose not to partake in this horrible pandemic. It turned lives around the world upside down almost overnight, and it is still plowing on like a slow train. Some of us are fortunate enough to be able to socialise online, and be able to stockpile provisions for at least a few weeks. Luckily for some the biggest problems are boredom. There are millions of others who don’t have running water, or food, or adequate shelter, and knowing that makes boredom seem like a blessing.

We know that sooner or later this will pass. It is obvious though that our world will be changed. We will lose people that we wouldn’t have lost so soon. There will be a whole lot of mourning and grief. Then our new normal will begin to show itself. Maybe as soon as it’s safe to do so there will be lots of parties and hugging, but maybe there won’t be. Could be that some people will be more cautious about getting too close to others. Smaller airlines will probably go out of business, and cruise ships might not seem like fun things to be on any more. We don’t know what the future holds. Business owners don’t know whether they can weather this particular storm. And this applies to authors also. We are all wondering what to do next. Some suggest promoting their books. Others suggest giving away their books for free.

If you follow the bestseller lists on Amazon you will see a big upsurge of children’s books in the top 100, so yes, if you are selling children’s books, you might very well see an increase in sales at this point. I’ve asked quite a few people what books they are buying for themselves right now, and most of them said that they’re not. People are reading the collections they already have, and they’re taking advantage of the many freebies on offer right now. So I’m thinking that if you have a book ready to publish it might be a good idea to hold off for a little while, and either work on perfecting it a little more or get started on another. Now is a great time to be offering any of your books for free, not from a marketing point of view, but rather as an act of kindness for a world locked in terror.

This doesn’t mean that you should throw up your hands and stop writing. People are not going to stop reading—in fact, on the other end of this there will probably more people reading. Take advantage of this time to write and perfect new books, so that when the world can breathe again, you will be ready. Work on your covers and future promo banners. Go over already published books and see if they need any tweaks. Keep on creating fantastic places for people to dive into and forget about the chaos for a while. It’s a good time to share whatever beauty you can make—writers, artists, poets—your magic will always be needed.

It’s also a great time for readers to gravitate to e-readers. There will most definitely be more people buying eBooks, so it is probably time to think about making our own eBooks as pretty as they can be, rather than being the poor relation of the paperback. It’s a lot cheaper to buy a full colour eBook than it is a paperback, so all of us writers should be taking a good look at our Kindles. It is also a good idea to note that with all the online working now and in the future, there will be a lot more people with computers and wifi connections. Books can be read with the Kindle for PC app on laptops and computers also.

On a lighter note, I regularly fall asleep while reading, only to be woken up immediately when I drop my Kindle and it hits me in the eye, but so far I haven’t managed to lose it. I saw this question on Quora, “How do I find my dead Kindle?”. Expecting to see hilarious answers I of course opened the thread. Apart from one answer beginning with “Dead or alive you’re going to have to search for your Kindle manually”, which did give me an unexpectedly lengthy fit of the giggles, the rest was quite serious. It appears that losing Kindles in the home is a real and horrible thing. Considering that some people have their entire libraries only accessible via these fabulous little critters, maybe Amazon should incorporate some sort of bell thing with a long life extra battery that can be activated with a little remote. You can pay me later Jeff Bezos. Yes—the world needs a beeping Kindle. Or maybe some enterprising individual can create glow in the dark cases for them.

Stay safe.

Writer’s Publishing Workbook Release!

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I’ve been a very crazy busy bunny these last few months. I still have absolutely no clue what’s happening with my life as a whole, so all I can do really is do what I do best and try and enjoy the ride. I’ve made some fabulous new author friends who have signed on as clients for my proofreading, formatting or cover design services just lately, a couple of whom made such an impact on me, I’ll be introducing them here at some point along the way. In the meantime I want to share one of my own projects for all you scribblers out there.

It’s no secret that I love helping Indies. Back in the mists of time I shared every mind-blowing “secret” that I discovered along my own publishing journey, often inciting the wrath of those who thought that those secrets should only be shared for lots of cash. I’ve never been partial to secret keeping when it comes to helping writers on missions to be read. My The Absolute Indie eBook shares all that you need to know from start to end with loads of helpful links at a very reasonable price. Now I’m adding the first (and fattest) paperback workbook in the series, which means that you will have all you need in one spot, not only information on the hows and whys, but also all the information that you pile up about your own published book, that is so easily misplaced.

Reminders and places to take note of all you will need to keep, as well as useful worksheets and exercises for all the stops along the way – including Procrastination Palace, where you get to be just as you as you fancy being you. ISBN’s, ASIN’s, Blurbs, Schedules, plans for Marketing, lists of Social Media. You will never have to frantically dig for any information related to your book or any aspect of its journey ever again, right down to the fonts, colours and sizes used for your cover design. Dates, names, costs, and details, all right there at your fingertips.

The only writing workbook you’ll need. Writer’s Publishing Workbook is big enough for all you want to add to it. A4 size with a whopping 150 pages of information and worksheets, you’ll write everything in it, add your own information, including printed images that will all be in one physical spot when you need them, rather than having to dig around online. I’ve also set it at a really low price for the launch – $8.99 in the USA and £6.29 in the UK.

Enjoy your new big, fat, EVERYTHING YOU NEED writer workbook!


Balls and Alarums

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Back – again. Finding equilibrium comes in stages I think. Happily, I seem to be finding mine now, and getting used to this new life I’m finding my way to. The Horde are also just settling down properly too, and I’m only now seeing how much their poor little feathers must have been ruffled with it all. Jelly’s exploring properly for the first time, and they’re all getting back to their old crazy selves. The seed ball that I got for them that I thought I’d get major kudos for instantly became the Birdy Horde Destroying Scary Thing of DOOM. Talk about alarums and excursions. So that terrifying thing is going outside to scare the wildlife away instead.

Seed Ball

Finally, every day isn’t always a bad hair day anymore, and happy has slunk back up from the basement, supplying laughter and joy once again. I thought that my writing would have changed somehow, but I think it’s still the same old scribbling, from the same places. I see now that we can’t ever say what will happen. No matter what we do, or what our intentions on, our lives will take the courses that they have to, so we may as well enjoy the ride regardless.

My intentions were to be zooming around blogland a lot more than I have been, and that’s still what they are. So let zooming commence. I’m going to take baby steps getting back up to speed with the zooming though. I’m going to aim for three posts a week, and my Epic Comment Catch Up of All Time trip in between. Now that I’m around and about the town a whole lot more, I reckon I’ll take a pile of photos to share of interesting things and people around here. So, with a bit of luck – and elbow grease, I shall see you all in the land of blog all the time again.


Whacky Books

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I haven’t at all gotten to answer any comments in the past couple of weeks, and I’m SORRY, and I will get there – promise. It’s taken me a whole lot longer than I expected to get back to blogland, and I’m only starting in properly now. It’s been a bit surreal around here lately. I had TWO nasty surprises in the past six weeks, with members of the local bands of rotten criminals trying to open windows at three in the morning, and me seeing them through the windows BOTH times. That brings the number of attempts by them to get in to four altogether, so I must admit that the last one on Good Friday morning knocked me off my perch a bit. There’s something horribly personally, and somehow violently, invasive seeing an actual person right there on the other side of the glass, even if they do run away. Needless to say I haven’t been sleeping the sleep of the just that I so richly deserve, so I’ve been rather bleary. I’m a whole lot better now though, and waiting with eager anticipation for the riot control self defence kit that I ordered, the very presence of which will guarantee me some good snooze time I think.

Other than that I’ve had some lovely work coming my way with many, many thanks to my wonderful supportive friends here, especially Sally Cronin and Chris Graham. I want to give an extra BIG thank you to Chris – The Story Reading Ape for designing my fabulous new logo for my Indie Support Services.

Jo Logo 01
Don’t forget that there are all sorts of things other than covers that he can do for you Indies. From video trailers to banners, maps, and logos like the perfect one he designed for me. Zoom on over and follow him if you aren’t already – he is a wonderful font of help and support for all authors.

It’s so good to be able to finally start getting back to the books I love in all their forms. I found a particularly interesting one called The Voynich Manuscript that I’m sure a lot of you will find fascinating too. It’s been carbon dated to the early fourteen hundreds (1404 to 1438) and is named after the man who bought it in 1912. It’s written in an unknown alphabet – one that to this day has yet to be deciphered even though the most talented code-breakers and linguists have tried since its discovery. It’s filled with drawings of the craziest alien looking plants you could imagine, as well as pictures of women zooming through what appear to be tubes. Then there are astronomical drawings, and finally a couple that look like a combination of plants, the tube zooming females and the astrological designs.




The mind boggles. My mind does anyway. A lot of very staid and well educated personages have found all sorts of realistic explanations for this book, but I’m a writer so not apt to head straight for the boring. I reckon the writer of this most peculiar tome was either from the fourth planet from the central star in the Zerg galaxy, trying to draw a map home because her peers had found a fabulous way to use whacky plant tubes as interstellar transport (I deduce that said writer was female and the reason for the book was that said peers had decided to search for more plant-worthy men on another planet and forgot her behind) or that it was written by an aspiring adult comic book creator born before his time.


Either way—interesting stuff. If you want to download the PDF for a bit of nutty inspiration you can get it at Holy Books. The download is quite big though—over 50MB.

Do What You Love

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It’s brilliant to be properly back in the bloggerverse.  I’ll be finishing up a couple of cover designs this weekend before diving into my sci-fi series book edits again next week, and now that I’m finally having some quality time back at my computer again with two of my favourite things, I’m pretty much grinning all the time.  I abandoned my sketching and painting for so many years that I really didn’t think that I’d ever get back into it, but lately all the rust is falling away and I’m amazed at the huge joy it brings me.  It’s weird how we sometimes stop doing the things that we love for whatever reasons, sometimes forever, and that’s a huge shame.  It’s also weird how so many of us humans think that getting pleasure from an activity must mean that it’s not work and not worthy of our quality time.  It’s the same with writing – how can it be your day job if it’s your favourite thing in the world to do?  The truth really is that if that’s what it is – your true happy place, you’ll probably do it so much better than any other kind of “work”.  It’s definitely worth striving for, to spend your life doing the work that you love, rather than getting to the end of it and looking back with huge regrets.  Put as much work into work that you love as you do your day job, and with a bit of luck and elbow grease it will eventually be your day job.
Now that I’ve discovered that our illustrious scientists have discovered that Earth is actually a billion years older than they thought it was I have lots of tweaking to do to my series.  Tweaking, I reckon, is the most dangerous thing to do as far as inserting all sorts of terrible inconsistencies is concerned, especially in a very long story that you’ve been away from for a while, but an extra billion years is way too cool for me to pass up.  Anyway – now I’m off to paint covers and ponder what weirdness could possibly reside in dark matter.

Rumi Quote

Happy New Year!

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Happy New Year everyone! 2014 Was a crazy, wonderful year for me. Lots of stressful, scary things happened, but other things happened too that were more wonderful and unexpected than I could have ever hoped for. So I have only gratitude and not a single regret for last year, as well as a much firmer belief that many of the things that happen in our lives are most definitely not random.

Online I’ve had a ball, meeting new friends, entrenching old friendships, and meeting new friends that instantly became old friends. Life’s funny fantastic like that sometimes. I’ve learned a lot, and grown a lot, and am a little more comfortable in my skin now than I was for a while. For my goals for 2015 I definitely plan on firstly being careful with treating myself like a new recruit in the army and piling on the pressure, as is my way. One thing I’m definitely planning on doing is spending a bit more time with my art and photography. I’ve wanted to write and illustrate a children’s book for ages now, so that’s definitely in the works for this year, and some of the designs I’ve been playing with I might start selling as one off premade ebook cover art too. Shadow People two and three, a few more short stories, Princesses Africolonial Cuisine tongue in cheek recipe book needs to be finished, and a couple mainstream books are all in the pipeline, so I’m looking forward to it all.

I want to thank all of you for sharing your worlds with me, and allowing me to share mine, but mostly for being the awesome friends that you are. You’ve taught me, made me happy, made me sad sometimes, and made me laugh. Your support and friendship means the world to me, and I wish you only joy and success in all that you do – I’m happy and grateful to be with you for the ride.  Here’s some crazy doodle memories of my 2014.

Nosy Neighbour (2) Cropped

Seeing my neighbour over the wall having a stroll in his banana hammock Ghost Doodle Cropped (2)Finding out that there’s ghostly guest Sneezing Doodle Cropped (2) Getting sneezed on in an epic manner Meltdown Doodle Cropped (2) Dealing with stress Hit a Happy Medium Learning how to hit a happy medium cooltext1860214350

Princess – Portable Sin Buns

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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.



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



Chopped Parsley

Shredded Lettuce

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.


Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice

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Yargh – crap! I mean that in a very literal sense. I have over 8 000 email notifications built up from my absence still left to open, and strangely, rather than being a massive chore it’s been more like opening pressies every time. I love what I do, and I love the friends I have now, and I love the new books, and reviews, and meltdowns, and celebrations, and every little thing you all share. Love all of you. Apart from the trolls of course – nobody thinks that you rotten, vicious little asses are cool. Anyway.

So, back to the crap. Getting Bella the puppy was a really big deal for me. Because I spend so much time on my own I wanted to get a dog. The feathered horde head off to bed at sundown, and apart from anything else there have been some really nasty housebreaking attacks around here, so a dog is really a must – and maybe a tazer now that I’ve sold my 9mm Browning. Or maybe I’ll just get another. I’m not into violence, but after what I’ve seen in the papers about what’s been done to innocent grannies and little girls, I’ll be more than comfortable taking a vicious murderer down.

Again – back to the crap. Sorry for the side route. Bella has totally ignored all of her official puppy toys – feet, magazine racks, the couch, and all sorts of other things are much more fun to chew apparently. She is the sweetest, cleverest little soul though – apart from the crapping, as I said. There are bits of you name it all over the house. It’s been raining, so she’s covered in mud – me too – and the carpets. This has the feathered horde behaving incredibly badly though, and I’m really worried that someone is going to get munched.

They reckon that her bed is the place to be. Her food has obviously been stolen from them, and they’ve all been bouncing on her head at every opportunity to reclaim it. Little buggers – I thought that I would have to protect my innocent birds from a possibly marauding dog but it turns out that the dog is the one who needs protection. The feathery little guys are absolute barbarians and bullies! I’m going to have to be totally on the ball all the time to make sure that none of them get accidentally noshed. So.

I’m hoping to get back to my scribbling in a day or two, editing and checking of published scribbles at the top of the list, but more than anything I can’t wait to zone out again and immerse myself in Shadow People two and three. I’m seriously considering ditching marketing totally, and just having fun with my blogger and twitter buddies, and writing – just writing for the love of it.

2014-04-03 17.16.49-1

It’s All Research

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I’m catching up again. It’s great to read everyone’s posts again and see what you’re all up to. I think I can dive back into work again now – I won’t say am going to and tempt fate – think is good for now. I’m actually quite a happy bunny today. My new puppy arrived yesterday, and she’s gorgeous.


It’s been way too long since I’ve scribbled a word. As you can probably tell by my absolute lack of anything at all interesting to say. The guilt has been the worst thing about not being able to do much on my computer for so long. I’m not sure if it’s just me or if all indie writers have this constant sense of having to be doing something constructive for every minute of every day of their waking life, or else you’re just letting everyone down.

It is quite a unique place – Indie World. I remember in the beginning having read that you have to be visible all the time, and instantly respond to everything that pops up or you’ll be dismissed as an amateur and forgotten about, but that isn’t the way I’ve found it to be. We’re all trying to do the same thing, and then we catch old Fate’s eyeball now and again, and have no choice but to leave our spots on the interweb growing cobwebs for a bit. When we tiptoe sheepishly back in to the room though, we find all our friends still there, and not giving us the cold shoulder after all. If life never insisted on our notice it wouldn’t be life at all, and we’d probably never have anything to write about either because all good has no depth. So maybe I’ll just call these bumps in the road research from now on – not absenteeism.


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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