A couple of my books will be free around now for the next couple of days. Right now African Me is, so if you fancy it just click on the cover image to zoom over to Amazon for download. While you’re there Sands of Time is also free if you like wild romps with dragons and chatty spacecraft.
Sunrise – something past five this morning. Felt a bit like Dante’s inferno.
Is the weather normal anywhere out there? It seems to be extreme all over the place. South Africa’s in the middle of a countrywide heatwave. Botswana and Zimbabwe too apparently. 40°C No problem with 45°C forecast in some places for the coming few days. It’s so hot it’s physically nauseating. Cape Town has actually just had its hottest day in a century and they’ve been battling fires on the mountains at the same time, so those poor fire fighting guys are having a rough time of it this year. People are being advised not to be out and about between eleven and one when it’s particularly roasty, and most certainly not leave children, pets, or any other living creature in parked cars – you’d think people wouldn’t do that even in the cold, but they still do. Those in the know say it will probably get worse through to Thursday next week, although I see rain predicted then, and after heat like this there could be some doozie storms or maybe some hail.
I can’t remember ever experiencing anything like this before – certainly not any sort of officially announced heatwave. In fact, if I remember correctly, the weather of my childhood was pretty nice. Each season held something special. Winter was for curling up by the fire with steaming bowls of slow cooked soup, or hot chocolate and a good book. Summer was for zooming around in water, and summer rains weren’t terrifying things. Sploshing around in puddles with a brolly was cool. These days I wouldn’t take a steel tipped brolly anywhere near a rainstorm. I only remember one really bad sudden hail storm when I was much younger, which completely turned my car into a ugly polka dotted thing, and killed not only chickens with direct hits to the head, but a couple of my mother’s prize merino sheep too. Bad or extreme weather certainly wasn’t the norm that it’s become these days. Not nice for the future if these crazy things are going to be just that.
When we lived on the Mozambican border up in Zimbabwe, we used to get the edges of their annual cyclones. Those things could be properly terrifying. The house we lived in was on terraces, with the front lawn ending at the dam’s edge, and totally surrounded by tall gum and pine trees among many others. Here’s the front bit.
There was a jetty down there (that big hole in it was made by yours truly’s delicate foot – really ladylike and attractive having yourself half disappear into a dodgy jetty while tossing a full glass of champers into the unsuspecting face coming up behind you) that a Leguan used to frequent. He also used to frequent the garden. Quite a big and nasty fellow he was, and I always bravely ran like hell whenever coming face to face with him. Never mind the sprint from the baboon one day – that was a whole new level of terror. This is the clearest pic I have of him. Never had zoom lenses then, and that was more than close enough for comfort.
Anyway, it was a truly beautiful setting to live in, although I’m pretty sure that living so close to water attracted extra lightning. Most years up there I often used to wonder if the lightning could possibly be mostly attracted to ME rather than the trees. Not fond of lightning at all, and clearly the feeling’s mutual. One tree in particular got blasted by lightning so many times one season that it clocked right out, although the dead stump attracted the gorgeous Eagle Owl who used to come and nest there every year. This is she.
It was lovely to see when her duo of surviving babies started popping (always two every year) out and sitting where you could see them. One year I spotted one of them sitting on the lawn. Thinking that I should give the little fellow a leg up to his house, I tried to pick him up, and was very quickly klouted around the head by his mother – her talons gave me a nice laceration on the top of the noggin too. Word to the wise – never pick up a fluffly wobbly baby owl. Apart from herself, a whole lot of other owls suddenly appeared in the trees right then to back her up. True story, and creepy too seeing all those owls looking right at me with murder in their eyes.
After that she trusted me not at all, so wandering around in the evening when she was active was a bit nerve-wracking. One night my friend had been around for a visit, and when it was time for her to head on home, I had to pop into my trusty old Landy and drive to the gate to lock it, because that lady owl was prepared for battle the minute we stepped out the door. Just as well we’d had a couple of glasses of wine, because just running to the cars was a bit of a gauntlet. It did make for lots of laughter though, and very fond memories. That was the coolest little car, now that I mention it, and the one thing I’m really sorry to have parted with. Old as she was – forty odd years, I never got stuck once in the mudpiles that the roads became with the rains, or anywhere else for that matter. In fact I once tootled past a tractor stuck in the mud quite nicely. You had to watch going round corners at any sort of speed though. That old girl would take them on two wheels.
The loadshedding wasn’t as bad around here as it was in other places in South Africa this festive season. In Zimbabwe they switch you off every day for the whole day or the whole night without fail.
At least here they let you know when so you can get backup lights ready. I walked into many a wall strolling around at night in Zimbabwe.
I’m already so used to the comfort here I don’t often think of the discomfort up there much more. I still remember it though, and nothing will change my disgust at the suffering pure greed and the abuse of power is still causing.
That’s not my point though. I was thinking about the ability of both of these nations to always find something to laugh at no matter how bad things get, and especially the ability to laugh at themselves.
Just found this – and that’s why I fell in love with Zimbabwe. You guys rock!
I wrote the post below a couple of days ago while innocently expecting the internet guys to come and connect me to the internet. Well. Seems they decided to have a laugh instead. We ordered it a couple of weeks ago and waited the required seven to ten days, then Wednesday morning we got loads of sms’s from them saying that the installer guys had been deployed. Yes. Deployed. I had a good laugh picturing those techies being “deployed” in their camo outfits, ducking and diving behind bushes to avoid enemy fire. Then, after loads more deployed messages – nothing happened.
We phoned them to see what had happened, and they said that there was a technical problem in our area that had nobbled said deployment. When asked what the technical issue was they said that they weren’t at liberty to divulge such sensitive information, but that redeployment would definitely take place by Friday at the latest. Very cloak and dagger, this internet business. Our new friends have said that the posse deployed could very well have been ambushed by a cool lager or three, thereby causing the technical issue of not being able to see the street numbers. You never know. Anyway. The guy pitched up yesterday and zoomed through so fast that my hair’s still standing on end, and I haven’t got a clue what’s going on. Situation normal really. I’ve got the laptop connected, but I need to get an epic cable before I can hook up my desktop. I really don’t operate well from the laptop, so, grumpy, grumpy, grumpy… Never mind. I’ve really been missing my friends online. It’s really lonely scribbling without the whole writing world with you every day. You get so used to it, it’s a bit like losing a part of you being in the dark for so long. Now to dive in again. Most cool indeed! So, here’s my pre-internet guy deployment news…
Desktop computer finally unpacked and set up. Waiting for the internet guys to come and hook me up to the ol’ world wide web any minute now. The whole “working on the laptop” plan while briefly homeless and unemployed didn’t work out for me at all. There was no time, I couldn’t figure out the pay-as-you-go wi-fi internet thing properly, and the stress levels were just way too high. The one time I did boot it up, I only managed to delete the entire My Documents library. Then I managed to retrieve it and accidently saved it to the My Music library, and of course I couldn’t get it out again, which was worse than deleting it in the first place. Not good for my slight OCD trying to work on something that’s in the wrong spot. So I shut it down before I messed up anything else, and got on with all the other bits of life that had to be seen to.
I never thought I would be so long getting back online. The previous months have been wildly crazy. Luckily the crazy bad turned to crazy good. The last couple of weeks in Zimbabwe were appallingly crap. In retrospect, after seeing how that “election” took place, it’s obvious now that the outcome was a dead cert all along. Planned. Which is why all the threatening, violent bullying, and total disregard of any sort of law, that we and a few others were subjected to, was so easy to get away with by people aligned with those who were so sure to win. At the end of it all, we pretty much walked away from all that we’d built there over the years. By the time we started on the actual trip to South Africa, the sense of urgency to just get the hell out of there was so intense it was all we could focus on. So we left everything behind except what could be squeezed into the car, and the portion of our finances we could lay our hands on. Amazing how easy it is there for institutions to just say “No” when it comes to accessing your own lucre. Anyway. We have no regrets, and I don’t feel the loss of any of it except the animals. Sometimes what appears to be a loss is actually a gain of much more though. And I do feel that I’ve gained more than I’ve lost with this mindbogglingly (new word) speedy transition. Sanity and safety at the very least.
We found brilliant homes for Sprite and the chickens. It still hurts to have had to part with that dog, but the couple who took him over are absolutely in love with him, and the feeling was so obviously mutual that it took the edge off a little. Only a little though. The birds, of course, had to come with us. Nothing would induce me to leave my horde behind. Feathery, squawky, road trip it was. The parrots were really good, considering that it was a five day road trip, with being caged on the back seat of the car during the days, and then being squished into tiny travel lodge rooms at night. Jelly was his usual cool self, checking out the passing scenery, and munching on little hotel soaps in the evenings, but Button complained bitterly, and loudly, every inch of the way. He really hated every minute of it, and got well freaked out towards the end. Trying to catch those two slippery little yellow buggers every morning to put in the cages was like a bad Carry On movie too. They’re all fine now though. Loving zooming around their new house, and crapping on all the new stuff.
We’ve settled nicely in South Africa. Having lived in Zimbabwe for eighteen years, I’m still having it sink in that I’m back home. Safe. In my own country. And slowly realising how badly the culture of fear, that’s been firmly entrenched up there for the last years, affects the way you think and behave. Affects your whole life. Since we crossed the border, we’ve come across friendly, kind, helpful, and generally fantastic people. They probably don’t realise how cool we think they are, because they’re just being normal. Our normal has been very, very different for too long I think. Seeing a policeman here, or a member of the armed forces, instils a sense of safety and comfort. Not fear. Suddenly you feel so relaxed and happy, you’re horrified to find that there’s been a physical tension, for years, in your body and mind, that you were so used to having you didn’t really notice that it was there. You thought it was normal. But you really do notice when it leaves. It’s weird not to be wound up all the time. But… Loving my sunny South Africa! The roads are awesome. So are the shops. My lady friends will be appalled to hear that I’m so sick of shopping I have no intention of going near any sort of shop again for weeks – at least.
We had to buy everything new, from furniture to teaspoons. It started off really cool. No self-respecting shopaholic, such as myself, could not find such a thing anything but awesome. I zoomed around huge malls, with bulging eyeballs and poking out tongue, with a grumbling husband battling to keep up, trying to handle multiple trolleys, and then move furniture around back home till things were in the right spots, for more than a straight week, having a ball. Buying piles of exactly what I wanted was beyond cool. Proper colour coordination going on here, I can tell you! Then, as I limped down an aisle on Saturday, looking for a nice stainless steel colander, I realised that for the first time in my life I really was all shopped out. The colander will have to wait till I get my shopping mojo back. Now, I’ll just be back to hanging around here, over a hot keyboard, where I belong, and poor long-suffering husband can flee to the peace and quiet of his new job every day, without fear of having to move stuff about all the time.
I’ll need to sort out my Amazon and PayPal accounts before I publish African Me now. Woo Hooo – PayPal and Smashwords for me now! And it will be most cool not to have to worry about being arrested for sharing my opinions too, so publishing will happen soon. I must apologise to my friends for not publishing it before I left, as I said I would, but things were really way too scary for me to be able to think overly clearly, and it would have been a wet squib to publish and then just go dark for so many weeks. Now, publishing it will be as publishing any sort of book should be. An absolutely joyful, exciting thing, and not a furtive, frightening procedure, as it would have been if I had. Still. I’m really sorry for the disappearing. I doubt that sort of thing will happen here though. The power stays on all the time. And the internet too apparently. Amazing!
I haven’t had time to sit down till now, let alone give anything much proper thought. I’m still reeling a little too much over what happened to us personally to have figured out my own opinion on what has just happened in Zimbabwe. There’s not a lot in the news. I’m really relieved that the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia have announced that they don’t see the election results of the 31st July as free and fair, or I’d be wondering if I’d totally lost the use of my faculties. I don’t understand why the rest of Africa has accepted the election results as legitimate though. I can only assume that the powers that be around the continent have good reasons for accepting the results. Maybe the rumours that he has terminal cancer are true, and he’s being allowed to go out on a high on the merit of his early days as a fighter for the freedom of colonial oppression. Even I thought of him as a hero back then, although in the light of all he’s been up to since coming to power, I really don’t any more at all. Maybe it’s some sort of experiment. A new way to reclaim Africa without having to compensate anyone for anything. Who knows? Something’s definitely dodgy though. My opinion is that this ambush has been planned all along. Without Morgan Tsvangerai, Zimbabwe was finished. He was used to pick it up, and then tossed aside.
I was still there at the time, and if those elections were free and fair, then I’m a monkey’s bum. The weeks leading up to it were unnaturally quiet, true enough. I emphasise unnatural though. I’m guessing now, that there must have been some very busy bees behind closed doors during those weeks. We all stupidly dared to imagine that a “real” honest election would actually be allowed to happen. More fools us. Among other things, over a million voters were turned away on the day for the most ridiculous reasons. Dead people voted. Miracles all around! A pile of marked – marked for the opposition that is – ballot papers were fished out of a bin in a street. Not sure what happened to them at the end of it all. The campaign photos of the president seemed to be around thirty years out of date. The opposition was not allowed an electronic copy of the voters roll. And… And… And… It may have appeared to be outwardly peaceful. But it was NOT fair by any stretch of the imagination.
I’m not a political animal, and talking politics bores me to tears, so I can’t do too much of that. I will say though, that my heart bleeds for Zimbabwe now. A few will be genuinely happy with their ill-gotten gains. But not the majority of people, I don’t think. As we drove down the length of the country when we finally left, I saw no joy at all. Only sadness. The restrained fear of a people resigned to their fate. How can they fight a leader who uses the armed forces and paid thugs against them to get what he wants? Why should they have to anyway? No citizen of any country should have to lay down their life for the right to peace, food, health and democracy. There’s no help for them now though, and nothing for them to do except go with the flow. With the support of the rest of Africa, things might turn out not too terrible now that the economy is out of the toilet. But I personally doubt it. Either way, most Zimbabweans are gentle, friendly people. They’ve had more than their fair share of bloodshed, poverty and death just lately, so they won’t fight. I wouldn’t either.
I’ve been really surprised watching the news lately. Robert Mugabe was inaugurated on Thursday last week. He’s also been elected Deputy Chairperson of SADC at the regional bloc’s summit in Malawi. The United Nations world tourism body has chosen Zimbabwe to lead its Commission for Africa. Tourism? Zimbabwe? Really? They’re planning on building a Disneyworld at Victoria Falls too. The mind just boggles. Bit by bit that election is being legitimised. Kudos! Accolades are flowing in. Congratulations. I just don’t get it. What a farce.
And another bit of news that made me queasy. So far all the news on Zim that I’ve seen lately has made me queasy. In his first public speech after his inauguration, Robert Mugabe showed how not to be a gracious “winner”. If winner he truly was. Here are a few excerpts of this speech, given at a funeral ceremony at the country’s National Heroes Acre, him speaking about his opponent, Morgan Tsvangerai.
“… Working with him required real patience and endurance, because he was an ignoramus who was woefully unaware of his ignorance…”
“… You see. An illiterate person, who is aware that they are ignorant, you can deal with better. You are better off with an ignorant person who is aware. Conscious of his ignorance. Who accepts that he is ignorant. But if you are ignorant of your own ignorance, then it’s a big problem…”
And then, reacting to Morgan Tsvangerai’s (withdrawn) attempt to challenge the results:-
“… I hope our people will never repeat the same mistake, and choose an ignoramus, when you have bright children who went to university. I wonder what you admire in him…”
“…What section reform can you, a lone stray locust, implement? When has the frog aspired to be the crocodile?…”
In a country that HIS actions brought to its knees, to the point where most of HIS people didn’t have the option of an education for a very long while, let alone access to food or medication. How horribly condescending. How incredibly petty and unfair. Gloating. And calling a man a locust brings back memories of people being called cockroaches in Rwanda for me. There’s just no dignity in these words, and no reason to respect the person who utters them. The saddest thing is that it was Morgan Tsvangerai, varsity education notwithstanding, and his MDC party, who picked Zimbabwe up from the pit that it ended up in after the farm invasions, the violence, the killings, the corruption, and the scrabble for personal enrichment by a few. Not to mention the huge amounts of money spent on bribery. “War Veterans”, who must have fought as really strong sperm back in the day, were given land, pensions, tractors, food, and allsorts, to repay their equally brave actions in viciously evicting farmers, and beating the crap out of the opposition. There was a “camp” down the road from where we lived just before the last elections. People were taken in. People came out battered. Broken. Some people didn’t come out at all. And still they lost that election. They clung on though. It should never have been allowed. The only ignorance that anyone displayed has been in trusting those who lost it that time. Morgan Tsvangerai saved thousands from starvation, picked up a broken economy, a broken country, and now the man who broke it in the first place has taken it back, by fair means or foul – foul, to be sure – purely for the further enrichment of himself and his inner circle, and possibly because he believes that this last term in office, and the baffling support of most of Africa, will consolidate his “legacy”, as a respected statesman. Well…
Let’s totally forget Gukurahundi, shall we? His Fifth Brigade’s attempted genocide of the Matabele people. Twenty thousand were killed then on his instruction. Farmers were killed during the farm takeovers. People were killed for belonging to the opposition party. There’s no reason to think that anything’s not possible there now. He does what he wants and God help any who gainsays him. Life seems to have become a cheap thing in Zimbabwe. If a man’s been prepared for such a long time, for so many to be killed, starve to death, or die for lack of medicine, just so he can remain in power, he isn’t going to stop now. And to mock the uneducated seems to me to me the final insult. Break a country to the point where every government school has to close its doors, and education becomes not even an option. Turn a nation into acquiescent, unquestioning, poor peasants, then who will there be to fight you? You can call them all stupid as much as you like too, and all they can do is take it. What a shame that it means nothing that they take it because they fear you, not that they respect you. What a terrible shame.
Anyway. That’s enough of that now. I want to be “normal” for a bit, and reacquaint myself with my forgotten South African culture, live my life in this mellow, peaceful suburb for a while, get used to people who aren’t frightened or frightening. And have a little fun even. After African Me, I’ll be back off to Lapillus, where the scariest things are eight foot tall demons who want to torture you for eternity. A lot less scary place to be than my poor Zimbabwe right now or the people who have control of it. So. I’d better get to work. I’m champing at the bit to get writing again. Books. Books. More books. That’s all I’ll be jabbering on about from now. Well… Probably not, but mostly. It’s fantastic to be back! HI GUYS! I missed you all. Should I try and catch up on the thousands of emails, do you think? I’ll have a go, and spend days getting a proper Twitter fix too. If there’s anything I might miss on my catch up that I shouldn’t, please yell. Back to zooming….
Yep – been MIA again. I’ve seriously considered giving up on the whole idea of writing books, or anything at all this week. My “always look on the bright side” attitude has taken a tumble lately. We moved here a year ago, and from day one we have had rotten things happening. Killer bees, diseases, weird, sponge like people, more horribleness than a really cool life view could make up for a lot of times. But – not being keen on being overly ranty, I’ve tried really hard to justify it all, and just shut up – blog wise. Life. Lessons. Normal.
If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all – my dear old mother used to say. Theoretically a really cool idea, but life being what it is, you’re going to have to be a saint if you claim to have never said anything not so nice. But – good for me! Not said a word so far. This week has been “interesting” in all the wrong kind of ways, and I actually do have quite a lot that I’d really like to say right now. But so far I’ve managed to hold my tongue and not utter not a word. Sorry though – limit reached. I’m pissed off. And as soon as I’ve gathered my thoughts, I will be saying something. A lot. Indeed I will. Not cool letting rotten people get away with attempting rotten deeds, so – you nasty guy who thinks you are above all the laws of this land because of your greatness and awesomeness, oh yes, I will be discussing you, and people like you, so drunk with their own power that they think they can do just what they like. You really suck. Soonish too. Note to you. You picked on the wrong “victim”. Guessing I’m going to out you for being a tool? Oh yes I am.
It’s never been my plan to involve myself in any sort of politics here. Still isn’t. My target has always been racism and the results today of the abuse of the African continent. That abuse is far from over. But I honestly think that all politicians everywhere are the biggest tools on the planet. Can’t stand the posturing buggers. Not a one. Really not partial to politicians. Not many of them set out on their careers with human rights on their agenda, I don’t think. I’ve always got the impression that they’re a bit like wannabe film stars, and that they all think they look really cool in suits and are really keen on the lifestyle – and the sound of their own voices. They earn big money, and live in mansions, and that’s what it seems to be all about. Power and money. Considering the state of the planet, they really haven’t much clue about running things anyway, so their aim really can’t be trying to fix things. This world is well buggered. People are dying of hunger right now. As you read this, some poor, uneducated woman is watching her baby die from lack of food or medicine – right there in her arms. Not cool at all. I don’t think that there has been one tiny part of recorded history where there wasn’t a war going on somewhere or other. Bring on the powerful guys. Yeh. There are arbs all over the place who have shot to fame, done something really cool, garnered the adulation of grateful peoples, and then forgotten all about what they started out to do in the first place, and proceeded to crap right on the heads of those that they set out to help in the first place. Lost your way a bit guys?
Sorry about that. I’ve not lost my motive. To highlight the abuse still going on – and all those crappy people who are doing it – nor have I lost my love for Africa and its unheard voices. I never will. But just lately, finding myself and my family in the way of a “powerful” black man, I’ve personally felt what it’s like to be targeted by someone only concerned with personal gain – squishing all in his path regardless. Yes dude, I have heard that you strongly believe that women should hang around really, really, quietly in the background, looking after your children, in the kitchen preferably, and well out of earshot, but I really don’t give a damn what you think fella. Or what you do. I’m not one of those women. I have every intention of speaking out as loudly as I can – see how weak us wimmen are then – oh not so clever one. At this point it’s not about race or colour – but about the blackness of your heart and spirit – and I really mean black – as in demon black.
I’m not a Zimbabwean, so I haven’t felt it was my place to comment on what’s been going on here – still don’t – apart from using it as a locale for my book. But really guys – you are not gods. Trampling over people for the sake of your bank account sucks. And this hasn’t really got anything to do with politics – just the most outrageous kind of bullying.
We have lately been subjected to all sorts of outrageous treatment. Being a South African citizen, even though I’m rooting for Zimbabweans to have a cool election on the 31st and move on forward to the happy nation you deserve to be, I really never for one second expected to be exposed to any form of threat of actual violence or harm. But in these last few weeks I have been, and I don’t like it at all.
So – pardon for my absence and lack of upbeat blog posts just recently guys. I’ve been trying really hard to maintain my online presence. And failed dismally. Trying to pretend that all is rosy and most cool. But it hasn’t been. Apart from Pestilence having taken up residence here from the day we moved in, I’ve come face to face with the first African person I’ve met in my entire life that I really don’t like at all. No saving graces at all. A really horrible kind of guy. And yes – I really, really, do plan to name you dude – just not today. I’m going to research you first – that’s what we scribblers do – even the female variety who shouldn’t be able to read. And I’m going to lay your soul bare, and all the rotten things that you’ve done out there, for all the world to see.
Normal fluffy birdy blogs will resume shortly.
Ha ha! I’ve been thinking about marketing quite a bit now. I decided not to actively market until I had more than one book out (a la Hugh Howey), and just see how things in the self-publishing world worked first. So now the time has come. As soon as my revamped current scribbles, and the new African Me go live next month, it will be that time. Over the last year, I’ve been mainly watching, and reading as much as I can about how to sell books as an independent author.
Even though my career was in sales, I still find the thought of flogging my own writing quite daunting. It’s not quite the same as selling a product, where what you see is what you get. Somebody’s not likely to buy a product or service without knowing exactly what they’re going to get. With a book though, you’re selling something ethereal. A possibility. A promise. Your buyer isn’t sure that they’re going to like what they pay for even if they’ve liked other books written by you before.
I figured that that definitely is the first step for me though. No selling till there’s more than one to sell, and that there would be at least a couple of people who had read what I write and might like some more. I’m not expecting to have fans lurking at the bottom of the garden, hoping to get pics of me doing something outrageous to sell to the Enquirer, and I don’t anticipate lots of sales to happen immediately, or even in the first months of trying to ply my wares. Selling doesn’t work like that for any product unless you have Lady Luck not only rooting for you, but camping out at your house. A successful product needs advertising as well as word of mouth to make people want to buy it. Would you buy the baked beans you know and love for $1, or beans in a jar for 10c from a lady on a corner, even if she tells you they’re better than Heinz? Nope. We want what we can be pretty sure we’ll like.
Indies can’t generally afford major advertising campaigns in the places already famous authors have their books publicised, such as magazines, billboards, television. So they use what they have – virtual launches, parties, giveaways, and social networking sites to get the word out. Intrepid bunch we are. Finding a way into one of those big boy forms of media isn’t likely for the arb scribbler such as myself, unless I streak across the court at Wimbledon yelling, “Oi!! Buy my book!!” That would do it I reckon, now that I think about it. Could be a really good marketing strategy doing something outrageous, or out of the box.
From a purely sales point of view, with limited funds, I think one or two other things might be worth a try. Traditional mail for one. Send out real paper flyers. Have some posters made up. Hire a graffiti artist to splash your name around a bit in the dark of the night – ok that’s not legal – but still… Put out piles of bookmarks with the cover of your book and contact details on it, for people to help themselves to. Buy those chocolates that you can have your own image printed on the outer package. Balloons. Mugs. Whack your cover and info on these too, and hand them out anywhere you can. People love free things, and for those writers not so keen on handing out free copies of their actual books, promotions along these lines might help a bit.
Not many people get to make money selling anything at all without either spending money, a lot of hard graft, or a tangibly superb product. Probably a little of each would be best. Anyway… I’m only about to start the marketing trip, so I’ll just carry on stalking the successful guys, and listen to what they suggest. Pinch nose, close eyeballs, and jump into the fray I go…
Till next time friends.
It’s been a bit of an up and down week for me, reader wise. A while ago, I was looking at Free Book Dude. I love his daily lists of freebies on Amazon because they are all author submitted, and sometimes a little out of the box. I like out of the box. He really is a cool dude too, by the way, for those indie friends who would like another cool place to announce their freebies. Contact him a couple of days in advance, and he’ll add you with pleasure – a really lovely man all in all. Anyway.
I spotted a competition for a book giveaway. I’ve never entered any before – if I want a book, I generally just buy it. I haven’t been all that keen on standing in the queue at the bank lately to top up my pay as you go Visa card though, and I’m too much of a coward to see if there’s still anything in it after my latest epic Amazon shops. But I read the author’s bio Taona Dumisani Chiveneko’s Author Page on Amazon – read it – seriously – I bet you you’ll really want to buy the book afterwards. I had to have it, so I entered the competition, knowing that I wouldn’t get the book. Competitions never work for me. And then!
This week I got an email from the author telling me that I’d won! Starstruck – a bit! And there was another lovely guy. Not only do I now have the e-book nestled on my Kindle, he’s sending me the paperback all the way from Canada. It’s as brilliant as it looks, by the way, expect my review soon.
And now I see that my beloved Tom Sharpe has died. This is indeed a huge blow. He was the first really, tears down your face and have to try and cross your legs as you run down the passage to pee author that I’ve read. (Interesting sentence – I know). Thing is – I was pretty serious and radical when I was young. I hated apartheid and the terrible things I saw every day, growing up in South Africa. And being who I was, I had quite a lot to say about it. It really is a miracle that I wasn’t ever arrested by the regime. Then I read Indecent Exposure. It’s rude, offensive, hilarious, and brilliant. But at a deeper level, it helped me to see both sides of what was going on around me. It taught me to shut up, and just quietly do what I could. It’s a grand view of the loony that somehow takes you to the real. I know it’s a bit pricey, but still, if you like irreverent, funny, and yet still somehow real – buy it. Cheers Tom Sharpe – I’ll miss you.
Till next time friends. Xxx
Completely ignored by constabulary at roadblocks from here to Harare and back again, I was unable to test my willpower in the spitting department, although the long trip did give rise to several new thoughts of other things I could try that are a little out of the ordinary, and possibly fineable. At this rate I’m sure to be arrested at some point. I got back late enough for the feathered horde to have taken themselves off to bed in a huff, and have been properly chastised this morning. I’m thinking that whoever made doves the spokescreatures for peace obviously never had any angelic looking birds as pets. Two inches of feathered rage can have a seriously painful effect on your earlobes. Having a big sleep doesn’t make them forget either. Little buggers.
One thing that I especially love about my monthly trips to Harare are all the new shops that always spring up around and about during my four week absences. Remembering the hunger and the sadness on the faces of the people so few years ago, now I get a real kick out of seeing those same faces laughing, munching down on fast food, and generally embracing and enjoying the new pleasures available. I hate seeing suffering. I always want to take hurt or broken people home with me and fix them. Yesterday, although I know that there really still is a lot of suffering in this country, I didn’t see a bit of it.
What I did find though, was a brand new book shop. Full of brand new books. I haven’t seen such a shop here in years, so I wandered around like an utter dork, mouth hanging open and drooling for far too long. This was also the first time that I’ve been into a bookshop since I started writing, so knowing what I now know, it was the most amazing feeling to pick up an actual paper copy of Hugh Howey’s Wool and flick through the pages. I check out his blog, watch his trip, and read his advice and opinions. He is one of those guys that makes a real effort to answer comments, no matter how busy he really must be. It was sorely tempting to buy piles of paper books because to me they were reasonably priced at $12, but I showed great restraint for once. I wondered if these authors even knew that their books were being avidly read by so many people in Zimbabwe, for many of whom a $12 outlay would be quite a big deal. Here these books will be treasures to be read, re-read, and passed around to many others who can’t afford the outlay at all. The unfairness of it all kind of hit me right between the eyes then. Us indies frantically trying to give our books away for free to people who don’t really want them, and then all of the thousands of less fortunate people around the world with three or four treasured books to last them a lifetime of reading, who would really love to have our books, but never will.
This writing trip has kicked up a notch for me in the excitement department after that. Now I realise just how very fortunate us indies really are, to be given the opportunity to be part of this great game. The joyful side of publishing has suddenly became real to me, regardless of the actual work involved in getting to your destination. African Me will be available in paperback at the same time that it goes live on Amazon, with a bit of luck, the fates being what they are, and all that. The very possibility of some reader guy sitting on a park bench in London, or Tennessee, or any other spot in the world, holding something in his hands that I made, reading words that I wrote, just blows me away.
I’m not sure what the shopkeeper thought, having some odd woman fondling Hugh Howey’s book, drooling a bit, and staring off into space, but people here are mostly gentle, kind souls, so she left me to my epiphany. I have nothing to complain about being an indie writer. I’m lucky to have the opportunity to even access Amazon, and plonk any bit of writing I want to on there. I’m lucky to have the opportunity to be able to market my book. Lucky to be able to even open Twitter – although that’s got more to do with the bastard internet signal. I’m lucky to have the time to write, without worrying about what I’ll eat for dinner. I’m lucky to have a computer to type my scribbles on. In the same vein, I’m lucky to be able to download hundreds of books, paid or free, and then leave them lounging unread, when so many would do so much to be able to read just one of them now and then, but will never have a chance to.
I won’t be complaining about any part of my trip. I now see it for the real gift that it is. Whether my book sells millions, or just one – to me, all the work getting it produced and marketed will be worth every minute spent. I will have published a book. And what a fantastic thing to have done that will be. Because somewhere, everywhere, there is another soul, more creative than me, sitting in some shabby, sad place, trying very hard to squish the silly dream he has of writing down the stories clamouring to get out of his head, because he knows that that’s a dream too high, and all that will ever be on his daily to do list will be survival. Gratitude, not whingeing, will be the order of my trip to the end. So indie guys, so.
Till next time friends. xxx
Today is Independence Day in Zimbabwe, celebrating thirty three years of independence from colonial rule. Regardless of the political situation here, that is indeed cause to celebrate in my book. I don’t get involved in anything at all political here. I’m a South African citizen anyway, and politics can be a slippery slope no matter where you live. African Me & Satellite TV was inspired by racism and colonialism across Africa, as well as the struggle for freedom against apartheid in South Africa. That being said, even though the story plays out in Zimbabwe, it’s a novel at the end of the day, with those themes running throughout the book. It never occurred to me that its publication would more or less coincide with elections here, but I’m happy that I held it back now. I’m watching events unfold here with keen interest, and really hope that everything goes smoothly and that the lovely peoples of this country can get back to living their lives again.
I managed to load up Twitter properly after quite some days barely getting a look in there. Today the electricity is on and my internet is at least working, although slow as a sick snail. It’s always Twitter and Facebook that won’t load when the internet is slow. This last week has seen the air turn blue for miles around a central me, and I’ve come up with many new and exciting ways of using the foulest words in the English language. Twitter is my favourite online place to be so it’s the worst place for me to be locked out of. Apart from the banter and the chat I don’t think that there is a better place for information gathering. I most of all love reading the few lines under new follower’s monikers when I follow back. I love the way some describe themselves, and make me instantly want to be their friend, and find out all about them. There really are some fascinating people in the world. I’m going to make a project of properly checking out a few of my follower’s profiles and tweets every day, and making sure that no amazing people are following me un-eyeballed.
Unfortunately after so many days of not being able to open a lot of emails, and posts on all the sites that I am part of, I know for a fact that some will be overlooked. This really bothers me. I hate the thought of anyone in the world thinking that I wouldn’t respond to anything they have to say. I think that ignoring anyone communicating directly with you is most unkind, so I’ll try my best to find every little thing. It might just take a while longer. And so, back to work for me.
Till next time friends. xxx