Thursday, 26 December 2013

A little Christmas Naughtiness!

EXCERPT

"What are you doing?"
Sighing Accolade opened one eyelid and glared at the elf. "Go away, I am busy."
Sandi planted his hands on his hips. "You have to get ready. By the time the sun sets Santa will be ready to leave."
She filled and drained the glass once again. “Damn, I need a bigger glass.”
Shrugging, she laid her head back on the chair. It was too much trouble to go and get a bigger one. "Not going," she replied.
The elf sputtered,stuttered and coughed at the same time. 
Accolade canted her head. "Amazing," she said. "How do you do that?"
For a moment she thought he was going to burst a vein, but he puffed his cheeks and stomped off.
"Alone at last," she uttered, raising the empty glass to his retreating figure.
Since she couldn't get drunk ever; trying to do so was a futile exercise. She would only end up feeling nauseous and itching all over; the mere thought of it made her skin itch.
Bored out of her skull, she contemplated taking a reindeer ride. Then again, that was what had caused the problem in the first place. Not that the reindeer actually pulled the sleigh through the air, it was all pure magic.
"Note to self: take reindeer rides on Christmas Eve off the to-do list."



Enjoy!  ♥ Linzé

FREE @ Smashwords


Wednesday, 25 December 2013

A Christ-mas Blessing to all

A Christ-mas Blessing

We maybe different in and out;
        but in Christ we are
Minds and thought not similar;
        in Christ we are
Art and renderings in opposite-
        in Christ we are
Words and voice disharmonious;
        but in Christ we are
  
Hearts on a pilgrimage to beat in a loving rhythm,
        because in Christ we unite
Thoughts of purity and restraint we seek-
        for in Christ we believe
Paintings of love and compassion we attempt-
        as in Christ we see
Songs of praise and worship we practice;
        for in Christ we rejoice

For all that we are and strive to be
may this Christmas be a blessed one for thee.

                          ~ Linzé Brandon 2013

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Book Launch: The Traveler by Lisa Williamson

Edana is the finest courier in the Six kingdoms. With her black stallion Midnight, she has built a reputation. But a robbery attempt and cursed blade turn her world upside down.
Now fighting for her life, Edana must rely on unexpected friends and kind-hearted strangers who introduce Magic and Prophecy into her life. Tales of elves, dwarfs and elementals are proving true.
Is Edana really who they say she is? Can she really bring closure to an ages old tragedy? Or will events that took place before her birth doom her and all who love her to utter destruction?

Excerpt
Riding through the storm, Edana sighed as the shelter finally came in sight. She had been riding for hours in the massive storm. The crash of the thunder had become just background noise to her. As her horse stumbled to a halt, she pulled her mind together and with great effort looked around. They had stopped in front of the first travel shelter she had seen in days. It was one of a series of small buildings scattered along the old grand highway or should have been. Most had been left to the elements, falling to ruins that had barely a single wall to set a tent against. With an effort of will she unclasped the hand holding the reins, her fingers were white from the cold. She pushed back her heavy, wet hair with a shaking hand and sighed wearily. "This is a good enough place. Time to rest."
With a groan she leaned to the side and slid off the animal's back. Landing in a heap on the ground, she lay panting. "We traveled too long this time, boy."
The horse put his head down and nudged her, whickering. She reached up and grabbed his halter and the horse pulled his head back, helping her stand. "Thanks, boy," she murmured. Leaning against his warm bulk, she surveyed the shelter. From here it looked solid. That was to be hoped for, as the weather outside was abysmal. She slowly put one foot in front of the other and led her horse toward the front door. The stables were off to the side but she did not think she could make it there and back to the shelter, she was so tired. Pushing open the door she headed inside.
The shelter was black as sin inside but she knew that lamps were kept just inside these shelters and she groped around until she felt the cool metal of a traveler's lamp. Picking it up she shook it gently to see if it had any oil inside. There was a satisfying splash, so she fumbled in her pockets and pulled out her striker. It took three tries but she finally got it lit.
The lamp threw out a pool of golden light across half the room. The travel shelter consisted of one great room with a fire pit in the center. She could see a neat pile of firewood to the left and large wooden chests along the right. A smile crossed her weary face as she opened one and saw it was filled with dried goods. Whoever was in charge of this stretch of the old highway was following the rules perfectly.
She turned as her big companion nickered. "What? Oh, sorry, boy. Let's get that saddle off you right now." She worked the water-soaked leather through the buckle and slid the saddle off. She looked about and then saw the saddle stand off to the side. "They really know how to stock a shelter in these parts." She struggled with the heavy saddle and placed it on the stand. Then she turned back to her mount.
He was a beautiful beast, more than a normal saddle horse. He came out of bloodlines that had been specially crafted for endurance and brains. That he was easy on the eye was a surprise. Most of the foals thrown by his dam were of a muddy brown with intelligent eyes and a sturdy body, but the stud that had mounted her had been one of surpassing beauty. It was thought that since he was not of the same breed that the colt would be a cull. She had convinced the owner of the dam to let her take him off his hands, sight unseen. Now she held the ownership of one of the smartest horses ever bred.
He looked at her for a moment and then nickered. He knew that he had worked hard and that his mistress was tired, but he also knew from experience that the human would take care of his needs before her own. He was more intelligent than even she knew, more than could be expected of a four-footed kindred. The stallion that had mounted the mare that was his dam was not really a horse. He was something out of legend and though he had spent all of his life with this young woman he knew just what he was.


Author Bio

A writer since an early age, I have been fascinated by stories where the characters go through changes and develop strength from great trials. I prefer the genre fields of fantasy, science fiction and horror over the general fiction. By placing my characters in fantastical settings I can let them grow and develop in ways that you just can't in a real world setting.
Published in the early days of the ebook movement in a CDRom book that saw little movement I have now taken to the digital age with style. I will continue to set my words free and hope that these children of my heart find homes with caring readers who are willing to look beyond the normal to the fantastical.
I can be found writing fantasy, science fiction, light horror and fanfiction.



Sunday, 1 December 2013

Don't Call Me Sweetheart - a birthday gift

In celebration of my birthday today, 1 December, you can download a copy of my latest story, Don't Call Me Sweetheart from Smashwords.

Use coupon code PY64N and enjoy a little sci-fi action on me! ♥


Monday, 25 November 2013

NaNoWriMo 2013 - the blood, sweat and almost tears

After my previous (albeit very successful) NaNoWriMo, I decided never to punish myself that way again. What was I thinking? This year was worse!
And the punishment had nothing to do with the word count target of 50k, but everything to do with my attempt to write non-fiction.
For a pantser, planning is the equal of pulling teeth, through the ### (okay, I won't say it, but you get it) and yet non-fiction cannot be written any other way.
Having had some experience with non-fiction writing over the years, academic papers and such, I knew what to do.
Research was in place.
The structure of the document was in place.
The format changed and changed again until I was satisfied with the way it looked.
So I just had to write each chapter and I was set, right? It didn't happen. Sure the research was there, but not complete. So I had to spend several hours finding the info I had missed somehow. Did I mention that was a deadline involved here?
So Plan A was ditched, temporarily, and Plans B, C and D came into effect. And boy, did that help. I still have to do a lot of work on the non-fiction title, but I got three complete short stories written too! And one of them will be submitted for an actual competition in December!
This year I may not have done the 100k like I did last year, but I have three completed projects (the first drafts anyway) and another one well on its way.
Now to go and dig out that internal editor. Where are you hiding, little butterfly?

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Follow Me - The Orange River (slightly bent)

We had to entertain ourselves for one day since we couldn't change our booking for our overnight accommodation for the trip back. So we went shopping - if you could call browsing in a co-op shopping. I found some seeds for yellow tomatoes for my vegetable garden. Can't wait to plant those.
And then we decided to visit the Orange river crossing where we parked our two buses and enjoyed the view.
What the Orange River really looked like.

The photographs you see here were taken as panoramas from my Samsung S3. They came out...well, a little bent. But then who needs to see the world in straight lines anyway. Enjoy!
 
The Orange River from a "bent" perspective :)

Then I decided to bend a bridge. Ha, it was a lot of fun doing it my way!

Standing on the white line - 180 degree panorama
Well, that is the end of this tour. Thank you for following me as I travelled my country and allowing me the privilege of sharing a few glimpses of it with you. Until the next time...

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Follow Me - The Guys, the Fun and the Rescue

I had mentioned before that I work with a great bunch of people and now you get to meet some of them. While I will remember the trip for the not-so-successful outcome of our tests, I will also remember it for the fun we had together.
Derek explaining something difficult as usual

Mpho bearing his kit while inside the Badger

Eric explaining to Sam what the next test is going to be about

Thato - at least I wasn't the only woman this time!














Hennie, Willem and Tienie wondering if the fishing is any good

Willem and Paul wondering what happened to their hats
Hours of laughing while just sitting around, talking nonsense and reminiscing about previous tests where people did silly things. Some of the people we talked about I knew, others I didn't. What did strike me was the camaraderie that people enjoy, even as colleagues. Many of our test facilities are fairly isolated, making it difficult to just jump into a car to go see a movie. It is either too far away, or there is such entertainment available in the nearest town.

On the last morning of our tests, we came across a group of springbuck running down the road. We frightened them and they were going all over the place, even running into the fences next to the road.
One of the group managed to get itself so tangled up that it couldn't shake itself free.
Springbuck running
Deciding that it was our fault to begin with (the fence), it was our duty to rescue the animal. 

And so three of my colleagues and one member of the SA Army who was with us in the bus, did the honours.
My attempt at a video was unsuccessful, the sun was too bright for me to see the screen of my mobile phone, but I did manage to capture a few photographs.


Springbuck stuck in the fence and the guys on their way

Job done! Back to work now :)

The heroes - all in a day's work!

Monday, 28 October 2013

Follow Me - Harnessing the Power of the Sun

While on the way towards our destination we came across two projects under construction to erect solar panels on several hundreds of hectares on land. The first was between Douglas and Prieska, fairly close to the road (all the photographs you see here). The second was right next to the old Copperton mine. Although we could see the construction work well enough, it was too far away to take good photographs with my mobile phone.



 On our way back home we came across a third such project. While I cannot remember exactly where - somewhere between Kimberley and Wolmaranstad - it too was large and set too far away from the road for a decent picture.
And the Northern Cape is the ideal place with its high number of days of sunshine per year.
What is heartening is seeing these solar farms being constructed to help with the increasing demand on the existing and future supply of power to the national grid.


Friday, 25 October 2013

Cover Reveal: Don't Call Me Sweetheart by Linzé Brandon

Excerpt
Hell had found me. I was staring at its ugly fangs and I knew if I stayed here any longer, it wasn't going to end well for me. I had to get out of here before more innocent people got hurt. Screams attacked my ears – so loud that it drowned out the pounding club music. But it didn't drown out the bullets causing the panic. Blood splattered over me as two more people fell.
"Where the hell did she go?"
I was too busy dodging bullets to pause on my way to the closest exit to find out who had said that. There. The moment I spotted the door, my feet moved faster.
My one day off from work, my time to relax, hang out, and look at me now; hiding behind a stinking crate of rotten vegetables in the middle of a very long and dark alley. Halfway between me and the safe end of the alley was a flickering yellow light above an entrance of some kind. I thought I saw something move, but it could be anything, from a vagrant getting comfortable for the night to a rat. I shuddered. Neither of those options inspired a sense of safety. I had to move. This was not a good place to be – too many opportunities to be ambushed. I edged around the crate and looked towards the exit of the club I had come from mere moments ago. No one had followed. Yet. How I made it out of the club alive, and uninjured, must have been some kind of miracle.
I glanced down at my expensive high-heeled boots. Damn, I loved those boots and now I would have run – through whatever muck, and dirt, and all kinds of other dead and dying things – in them. This was so not the night I had envisaged for myself.

Look out for this Sci-fi action thriller (with the tiniest hint of romance) on Smashwords very soon!

 

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Follow Me - Life on the Road

Since it takes us two days to reach our destination, there are lots of things to see along the way.
We often spotted impala, springbuck, a snake or two and even a tortoise who was trying its level best to cross the road.
Once our convoy of four vehicles rushed past of course.
One of the more fascinating sights is a little bird that lives in a communal colony with many other birds. It is the sociable weaver that makes its nest on the poles that carry the power lines along the road.
The nests expand as they continue to build, and care has to be taken that it does not grow too heavy and break up. Many poles have stacks of nest materials around their bases where the nests had become too heavy.

Prickly pears are another sight to make your mouth water. The luscious fruit grows wild in the Northern Cape, while it is not found only around here.

Just as we settled in for the last leg of our journey, it started to rain. While rain was not unwelcome, we were concerned about our tests that we conduct outside. The weather websites were consulted, and we relaxed as the rain was predicted to move on to the eastern parts of the country.

Stay tuned as the next installment will be about an exciting development in this part of South Africa.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Books-A-Fire: An e-Book Promotion to Fit Everyone's Pocket


The Books-a-Fire authors are back with more fabulous deals and NEW books to buy. There are no gimmicks or hoops to jump, just incredible prices on every single book.
Just point, click, and buy books in every genre for just 99 cents each.  
YES!  All books on the page are priced at 99 cents to make your shopping easy and affordable. For less than the price of a dinner out, you could buy every single book on the page.
To make it really easy, we've also created categories.  Click your favorite category at the top of the page and see all the books that are on sale in that category. 
Load your Kindle and enjoy a quiet read now that the kids are back in school. You've had a hectic summer so treat yourself to a good book today! 

►  Go to www.booksafire.com 


Monday, 21 October 2013

Follow Me - On Route Day 1

We left Pretoria on Saturday and took the route to our overnight destination in the Northern Cape province of South Africa. 

It is one of the driest parts of our country as you can see from the photographs. 

It is also one of the geographical areas that can change almost overnight from a semi-desert to a lush savannah with a single rain storm.

Unfortunately, rain is a rare commodity and very often dams are but dry patches of sand, rather than blue stretches of live providing water.






Kimberley is an interesting city with a long history of diamond mining, that I am sure you have learned about in school. It also boasts one of the oldest, if not the oldest pub in the country.
Garden of the Kalahari Lodge in Kimberley

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Follow Me - Off travelling once again

I am traveling again with my colleagues from work to do some tests again. After my last disaster - killing my poor mobile phone - I couldn't post any photographs of South Africa and the things we saw and did on the way. Well this time, I am going to do my best not to destroy my phone and then you can see the wonderful country side that is my country.
Since I still work for the same company, and the same rules still apply, you won't see any of the actual work. More about that here.

As I intended before, the posts will follow my awesome colleagues (and they truly are a great bunch of guys!) with chats and quirks, and a few quips - I promise to keep those PG!

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, there will be updates there too.

Monday, 30 September 2013

Cover Reveal: Bubble Trouble by Linzé Brandon

Excerpt
I hate Thursdays.
My weeks these days were exhausting at best, and generally pissing me off to the point that my temper was fraying around the edges on Thursdays. And then there was still one more day to go. One day with more meetings and deadlines and fifty-something-going-on-five bosses to deal with, until I could relax in my own skin.
I slid down deeper into the bubbles already teasing the edges of my huge bathtub. On Thursdays I needed a long, hot bath.
The bursting bubbles always manage to make me smile. A sweet berry flavour filled my nose, even I as tried to avoid getting too close to those bubbles. John made a point of finding fruit smelling bubble baths on his travels. He said it reminded him of me.

An erotic fantasy in a bubble bath - coming in October!

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Spotlight: Secrets of the Moon by Kristy Centeno


Publisher: Inkspell Publishing
Date of Publication: July 1, 2013


Secrets of the Moon
Teenager Marjorie Emery eluded death. As she struggles to get her life back on track, she believes her efforts are paying off. Yet, when a black dressing, unfriendly, and incredibly handsome hottie walks into her classroom, she’s forced into a tailspin. Marjorie has no idea how much his presence is going to shatter what little tranquility she’s achieved.
Kyran Rousseau’s gloomy nature has a name, one that is potentially fatal under the right circumstances. His family harbors secrets and does everything to protect Kyran. While, he doesn’t want to ruin Marjorie’s normal life, love has a way of changing his plans.
Falling for Kyran is the least of Marjorie’s worries. With a faceless threat hunting her and a boyfriend who's as dangerous as he is good looking—how can Marjorie and Kyran keep all hell from breaking loose before it’s too late?

Goodreads
Purchase links: Amazon | B&N


EXCERPT

Minutes later we arrived, and just in time for our eight a.m. classes. Claire, Tracy, and I dispersed to our respective classrooms upon entering the building, agreeing to meet later on for lunch.
Usually, I’d sit in one of the chairs at the first row of tables, since I barely made it in time for class; but today the only available seats were at the back—where no one likes to sit because it’s too far away from the writing board. No one paid attention to me as I scooted by to the back of the classroom and grabbed one of the empty seats at the last row of tables. The seat to the left of me was empty and everyone else had chosen their seats, so I was a little relieved that I wouldn’t be sharing the table with anyone. I wasn’t in the mood for small talk, so sitting alone came as a bonus.
When a few moments had gone by and no one else showed up, the teacher began his lecture for the day. With book, notebook, and pen in hand, I began to take notes of what the teacher was either saying or writing on the board, when the door opened and someone stepped inside. I was too busy going over what I wrote so I didn’t bother to look up to see who’d entered the classroom. I automatically assumed it was probably a student running late. However, the sound of loud gasps rushing through the otherwise silent room caused me to look up to see what the commotion was all about.
That was the first time I saw him. My gaze automatically drifted toward the silver-colored orbs he had for eyes. Never in my life had I seen eyes like those. It wasn’t just the color of them that was strange and incredibly alluring but the way he looked around the room also, as if searching for prey. Where that thought came from I had no idea, but I did agree that the description match him to a T.
The instructor spoke softly to him, but the boy only nodded several times, not even bothering to look at him. I thought that rude until I noticed he was too busy looking at…me.
My cheeks started to burn as he kept staring at me with those dangerously sensual eyes. No one had ever observed me that way before and it made me slightly uneasy. His quiet stare made me feel hot and uncomfortable all at once. After a silent staring contest, I turned my eyes away from him and decided to stare at the notes in front of me instead.
His eyes were intense, too much for me to handle without feeling as if I was going to be burned alive right on the spot. Good grief, no one ever had this mammoth effect on me before.
He was so different from the young men from around here. His demeanor held a hint of arrogance, boldness, and indifference unlike anything I’d perceived. Sure, some guys tended to act that way, but he took it up a notch. I took note of his dress code too: all-black casual wear—black hoodie, black shirt, black pants, black boots. Even his backpack was black. I could have easily accused him of being some kind of rock and roll groupie or maybe even a Goth-loving fan, but he didn’t appear to fit into either category.
However, the dark clothing only made his look more mysterious and it definitely brought out the color of his eyes even more. He was tall, too, very tall. If I had to guess what his height was, I would say six-foot-one or something close to that. His chestnut-colored hair was long, down to his shoulders, and he wore it lose. Something about him clearly screamed bad boy.
About Kristy Centeno
As a child, she used to lose herself in an imaginary world by the means of a good book. Now that she’s all grown up, Kristy gets to create her own fictional realms and make them come to life in ways that most readers might not expect.
She’s always had a passion for writing but never had the opportunity do so until now. After trying out numerous options, she realized that writing was what she loved the most so when she found herself with some free time on her hands, she decided to pursue her passion. As it turned out, her very active imagination helped her achieve her goals of creating believable plots with some ordinary, and some not so ordinary characters that helped the stories move along in one way or another.
As she keeps moving along in achieving her dreams of becoming a published author, she divides her time in between her four children and her very understanding husband.


Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Boost Creativity in the Workplace (republished with permission from eCare4me)


“I’m just not a very creative person.” Have you ever said these words or heard a colleague say them? If so, it may be time to re-evaluate how you see creativity and start training yourself to think more creatively, which often means more effectively. After all, creative thinking is often a driving force in a company’s progress.

According to Charles Hulten, professor of economics at the University of Maryland, the modern business world is demanding more and more conceptual thinking and with this, comes new innovations linked to creative thinking. “Every job is a creative job,” he says “A barista, for example, can create new drinks and greet customers in a variety of ways to add to the coffee shop experience.” No matter what your job entails, a bit of creativity can go a long way in helping you streamline your tasks and enjoy what you do.

Creativity is intelligence having fun

Einstein said it best when he linked creativity with both fun and intelligence. It is important to acknowledge that while creativity is often linked to fun and may seem like a time waster, it can result in powerful outcomes. Allowing yourself to think creatively gives you greater flexibility in your thinking and widens your perspectives. It also helps you to explore alternatives and foster a more open-minded work environment. According to Forbes magazine, creativity is much more of a skill than a mystery and with a little practice; you can master it. 

So, how can you invite creativity into your work life? Here are some suggestions.
  • Doodle Keep a notepad on your desk at work that is purely dedicated to doodling. Draw pictures, write words, and see what happens. Using colour is also a good idea. When our brains are in an unconscious state, we are often able to make clever connections and solve problems easier. 
  • Experiment Try doing something different in your life, even if it’s not linked to work. Go to a new restaurant, take up an unusual hobby, watch a movie or read a book that would normally not interest you. You’ll be surprised at the new insights you can gain by exploring new experiences.
  • Play As children, we expressed our creativity by playing. Playing games in the office, where appropriate, can stimulate fresh thinking, foster team relationships, and up innovation. If you’re focusing on a task, pop in some earphones and play soft background music or ambient sounds. Research has found that this helps to stimulate our imagination which is a key component in the creative process.
  • Think in opposites Creativity is about exploring the unexpected. Change the order of how you see and do things at work: start a meeting from the end of the agenda; present from the back of the boardroom; send an email with a few answers before asking the questions.
  • Laugh Humour can inspire creativity at work. A jovial discussion and a playful environment can encourage people to come up with unconventional solutions to problems and alleviate day-to-day stress. 

Challenge yourself to think out-of-the-box this week. This will help to inspire you to see things in a new light and the possibilities that come with this are endless. It may also motivate your colleagues to be more creative too. Let us know what creative techniques work for you by sharing it with us on Facebook, Twitter, or via Email.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Tips, Tricks and Tales: Using Mindmaps

To be honest I am not a plotter, but a pantser. I have tried plotting and for some reason my characters will always do what they want and never as I planned the story. So if you are a pantser like me, there is a tool that can help you to give some structure to a story - even if you let your characters make their own choices and mistakes. It is called a Mindmap.
The funny thing is that even if you are a plotter (and actually manage to control your whole story universe) this tool can also be useful to you.
There are software packages out there that you can buy, and then there are free options too. Check out the best options for your pocket and application.
Mind maps are exactly that. Mapping of a problem or a solution or a process that helps you think about it, and change it according to a set or rules (or not!) that you define.
And it has an infinite number of applications, even if you are not a writer at all!

Let's look at the example below:

Since I write mostly romance, what you see here is a basic starting point for a romance story. The details are not limited to a certain type of romance sub-genre, and you can adapt and change as your story moves along. Even if your characters make unexpected choices, you can then map possible outcomes and decide from there which one would suit your story or characters the best.
This is especially useful if the story is part of a series, and you need to keep in line with the overall plot of your series.
You will notice mapping of some background details - like the place and time to help you keep track of those. But the basic idea is simple: whether you are a plotter or a pantser, here is a tool that could help you in writing the story you have always wanted!

Do you use mind maps? How do they work for you?

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Cover Reveal: THEIR+1 by Linzé Brandon

Tilane always knew that there was something inside of her that was different. Defying her parents’ expectations had been the first step to stop denying her own needs and desires. When she had found her place in the world, she couldn’t be happier.
She had been pestering her boss, and lover, to get more help at work. As the office manager to contracts lawyer, Mark, she was his equal by day but surrendered all control to him at night. But lately he had been distant and not paying her much personal attention at all. She tried to be understanding, but had to wonder if he wasn’t getting tired of her.
Until the day she met his new partner and was told to provide Paul with all the personal attention he required. There was no doubt in her mind that she would do anything to please Mark, until the new partner, turned out to be the man that broke her heart seven years earlier.
Thrown together on a daily basis, Tilane found herself torn between the two men, who were both acting out of character and confusing her even more. Where she and Paul managed to sort out their past, the rift between her and Mark only grew bigger.
It was only when she had to take Mark to task for behaving like a jerk, that the relationship between the three of them was pushed to the breaking point.
Would she have to take matters into her own hands, or were Mark and Paul going to man up and be the ones to see to her needs, or was her happiness about to be shattered once and for all?


Erotic Romance COMING SOON!

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Thursday, 19 September 2013

Guest post: Time Management by Carmen Botman

I started writing at a very young age and completed my first novella at the age of 17. Of course, back then, I had all the time in the world, didn’t I? But then life sort of happened, as it tends to do, and no matter how much the writing bug kept gnawing at my insides, I managed to convince myself that writing wouldn’t be possible because there was just no time in my busy schedule. I mean, come on! I work 8 to 10 hours out the house. I have no domestic helper. My husband works and studies full-time, plus I have two lively Labradors needing unending attention. Feeling a constant emptiness somewhere deep inside of me, I finally surrendered to it. I had to write. And as soon as I started again, the emptiness was filled.

And now, a mere two years after my first earnest start again, I managed to finish an 82 000 word manuscript last year. I’m currently 22 000 words into the second novel with a number of smaller projects on the side.

How did I manage all of this, you ask? Well, as the heading boldly states, Time Management. Of course we all come from very different scenarios and there is no clear-cut recipe for success, but why not try out a few of the things that have worked for me:

  • Set aside an area in your house that’s just for you to write in – preferably a place with only the minimal amount of distractions.
  • Make certain that the family knows that when you’re in that space, you’re working, so disruptions should be kept to a minimum.
  • Print out monthly calendars (two or three months at a time) and put them up where you can see them easily when you’re working on your laptop or PC. On these calendars you can jot down deadlines of competitions you’re planning on entering, your word count goals, etc.
  • Make a clear list of all the projects you’re currently working on with all the due dates, so that you can stay on top of everything and not get flustered. Stick this up somewhere close to your workstation as well.
  • Set daily, weekly or monthly word count goals for yourself. This way you’re committing yourself to something. I always work better when there’s a ‘due date’ or in this case a ‘due word count.’
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself when you’ve not managed to stick to your schedule. Life happens. Just remember that next time you sit down to write, you have to write just those few extra words to catch up.
  • Join up with a local writing group. You’ll never know what a comfort it is to know that other people out there are in the same boat as you. If they can do it, then you can too. And the support you’ll receive is phenomenal!
  • If you find yourself in a serious need to catch-up, it may be worthwhile entering the annual Nanowrimo project, which will push you to limits you never dreamed possible.
  • Most importantly, you have to know why you’re writing. If you always remember the reason that you’re writing in the first place, your passion will keep you going no matter what life throws at you.

Like Toni Morrison says: “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” So what are you waiting for? Get writing!

Linzé's note: Carmen is a YA fantasy author that joined the Pretoria Writers Group this year.  She is taking part in our STORM anthology which will be released in the middle of June 2014. You can follow Carmen on Twitter and Facebook.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Guest Post: The Process by Rob McShane

I am right in the middle of a process (yep, another one! Ain't life great?) This process goes directly to my writing or, more appropriately, how to get my writing out into the public domain so that people can read it....and buy it!

There is so much information available to help with this process that you would think this to be easy. Not so, well at least not for me! I have now read so many blogs and help pages that it all seems one large swirling mass of mist. Where do you start? What is all this branding business? How can I know before I start what will work? What do I want my on-line persona to be, or reflect? What words shall I use to build myself and my brand? What ideas do I use, what do I discard? Which social platforms shall I get involved with? How do I get involved? What message do I want to send? How do I want to send it? How much time do I have in a day? etc. etc. So many questions....and the more I look for answers, the more questions I come up with!

One of the best things I read during this process was along the lines of 'If you want to be a writer, write. If you're talking about what you write, how much, or that you are a writer, you're not!' I'm sorry I can't actually quote it, or tell you who wrote it as it is sitting somewhere in the plethora of docs in the 'First steps research' file!

Point being, it got me thinking hard (again!) about how much we can over think this process. So, I have decided to make it simple. I am going to stick to writing my books and maybe the odd short story (good practice to keep my writing concise!). I'm going to need a platform and, on the advice of Linzé and many others, a blog seems to be the way to go, so I'm going to set up a blog. Then I'll pick one social media platform and start to 'get the word out' there. 

The main idea is to start. As with my writing, I believe the next steps will naturally appear out of the mist. I now have the overall plan and as I move things will pop up, characters will appear, sub-plots will develop and the process (like my books) will almost take on a life of its own. Isn't that also just like real life?

How exciting!


Author Bio:

Following a full life as a classical musician, actor, nurse, midwife, salesman and marketer, Rob now spends his time writing and dealing with the challenges of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and life. He has written many articles for various publications and web sites but now concentrates on his books. His first book, The MageStaff, a fantasy novel with a deeper message, is now available and he is busy with both a prequel and a sequel (on the request of his readers). He has plans for further novels once his fantasy series is complete.


Links:
The MageStaff is available at: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/325170
or on kindle at: : http://www.amazon.com/The-MageStaff-ebook/dp/B00BF09MY4/ref=tmm_kin_title_0
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12903360-the-magestaff

Linzé's note: Rob is a member of the Pretoria Writers Group and the two of us had met at our favourite coffee shop, Cherry Berry Café in Centurion. I was writing, he was playing the piano in the shop and we got talking. And we haven't stopped since!