What have you done with your days?

It’s the summer of December 2017. Eleven months of the year are done and perhaps not quite dusted yet as we tie up loose ends to set us free for the holidays.

Do you take stock of the year in your business of life? Do you tick off all that you have achieved and create another list of goals yet to be achieved?

The final month of a year is time to step back, think over and set the bar further for a host of things that will drive your passion into the next year.

Continue reading “What have you done with your days?”

Are You Grateful?

Every day should be Thanksgiving.

Kindness, Thankfulness, and Generosity in equal parts, blended together, is the alchemy needed for harmony and peaceful coexistence.

The words, ‘thank you,’ ‘I give thanks,’  ‘I’m grateful for,’ send out good vibrations to both the messenger and recipient of these encouraging words.

Let’s take a look at wise words on moments of gratitude.
Continue reading “Are You Grateful?”

Leading Lines

 How often have we heard that first impressions are lasting? Does the same apply to the opening lines in novels?

An attention-grabbing opening to a novel, not the head-standing, acrobatic, high energy stuff but a carefully crafted opening is a sure-fire way to spark the curiosity of the reader to continue reading.

Leading the reader in without saying too much by judiciously leaving out some essential details elicits intrigue for the reader to pursue the tale to its conclusion. The reader should discover aspects of a character’s world by being invited to be part of the journey. Those discoveries do not have to be palatable to the reader. A favourite character might reveal a side of their personality that perturbs the reader. The unexpected sustains the intrigue. In the real world, perfection is an illusion, to quote Alexander Pope, to err is human, to forgive divine. I fondly recall the podcast with Sevgi Yildiz, coordinator of the Sydney Bookclub, who said she ‘threw the book’ when her favourite character from her reading of Across Time and Space was not as saintly as she had wanted her to be. Emotional connections are indeed what keeps readers wanting more.

A sequel carries a known backstory but it should also be satisfying to read on its own without knowledge of the first book. Without summarising the first book, the opening lines should invite the reader in with glimpses into what went before which puts all the pieces of the larger plot puzzle together.

Opening lines of a book often take several redrafts to ensure that the right balance is achieved that leads to a natural flow from the first book into the sequel.

This is a skill that improves with each book written after several self-edits before the professional edit is solicited.

Continue reading “Leading Lines”

A Cultural or Colonial Christmas?

With NaNoWriMo advancing as it ignites the globe in an explosion of creative energy, so too is Christmas rapidly advancing upon us. As dinner menus are planned and gifts are purchased thoughts of Christmases past emerge.

In the spirit of the fast approaching season, I will share a post on my childhood Christmas memories.

Christmas was and still is celebrated in my home with great respect, joy, and merriment. I remember Christmas in South Africa being one that brought thoughts of snow and Santa Claus riding in on a cold night although thirty-degree heat reigned in the Decembers of my childhood!

The Christmas tree went up with layers of cotton wool to depict snowflakes with more stuck to the floor around the tree and little balls of cotton wool were glued around the windowpanes to emulate Christmas in the northern hemisphere.

Continue reading “A Cultural or Colonial Christmas?”

What are your tools of the writing trade?

 

My writing career started in a somewhat circuitous way with writing stories for an audience of one for many years until a story emerged that ran through to become my debut novel, Across Time and Space. It was then that the decision to publish emerged with some coercion from those closest to me.

My journey was a cart before the horse situation as all that I am about to outline to you happened after my debut novel was in the process of being published through a publisher.

It is for this reason that I decided to write this post to pass on what needs to be done, in the initial stages, before the process of writing begins.

Continue reading “What are your tools of the writing trade?”

Do We Need Migrant Literature?

 

The world is a melting pot,  an ever-increasing paradise of voices that need to be heard if tolerance and understanding are to reign for peaceful coexistence.

Migrant literature, while evident through powerful voices, needs new sounds to add to the colourful history that should be shared if we are to live side by side.

Knowledge is necessary to foster understanding and compassion to move us closer to our innate humanity. Living in international communities in the 21st Century is a goldmine of multiculturalism that offers rich insights on culture and values.

What better way than to extend understanding through the literature we read and write. This could be a work of fiction, a non-fiction book, or a blog that creates connections to our neighbours near and far.

Literature is and should continue to be a vehicle that dispels ‘otherness’ or the ‘outsider’

Continue reading “Do We Need Migrant Literature?”

Are you particular about dates?

When I ask ‘Are you particular about dates?’ – I’m not referring to the dating game or romance.

Here’s my reason for asking.

I recently published Vindication Across Time as the print version late in September to coincide with my father’s birthday.

Cover Design- Working Type Studio- Luke Harris

The digital version on Kindle, Kobo, iBooks, BN will be released next week on my mother’s birthday. It’s up for preorder  on these sites now.

I can hear you ask, ‘Pray do tell us more!’

Some of the themes reflected in Vindication Across Time – the pursuit of truth and justice is a value I grew up with. The truth no matter how painful had to be acknowledged and implemented.

Lies were severely admonished in my childhood home regardless of any perceived justification for stretching the truth.

Truth and lies are dominant in the novel as in different versions of the truth. The bearers of fake truths are soon discovered and good karma visits those who steadfastly adhere to the truth. My understanding is that there is only ONE truth.  If a man has been gunned down, there might be one person directly responsible and others who helped expedite the heinous act.

Justifications offered for why this happened does not remove the truth that a defenseless man was gunned down in cold blood. The next truth to be served is that justice must prevail regardless of individuals’ motives and challenges.

There, in a nutshell, is why the print version of Vindication Across Time was released on my father’s birthday as an acknowledgement of his respect for truth and justice.

What about my mother made me choose to release the Kindle and eBook versions on her birthday next week?

The expression of culture and values through strong female characters in  Across Time and Spaceled to greater nuances of imperfect lives in Vindication Across Time. This is where my mother’s love, compassion, and strength shaped these ideas.

Continue reading “Are you particular about dates?”

Are you a dog with a bone?

 

In my world being a dog with a bone is sometimes needed to get the job done. Persistence does pay.

By the same token, I am aware how utterly annoying the person who is always a dog with a bone can be … gnawing at issues or situations for self-aggrandisement. They gnaw at the issue or situation with dogged intent. Is it with a power-laden agenda to prove a point and claim the hubristic victory?

 

A dog with a bone syndrome (my definition) might well be motivated by an ego trip hence such characters are quick at the ready to prove a point, make a statement or perhaps just want to be heard. A sad dog with a bone really.

This excessive gnawing suggests self-obsession, the ‘look at me’ need.

 

determined puppy

 

You will find this character type in my novel, Vindication Across Time or can you identify characters in literature you’ve read where such attributes are identifiable?

Continue reading “Are you a dog with a bone?”

Literary Life Lines

 

There has been a lot of interest this past week on a previous post,  here on why characters and quotations from literature are often remembered long after the book has been put down.

Thank you for the comments, I’m delighted that you found educational or personal clarity and have selected a few more literary life lines in this post.

Literature that speaks to the human condition echoes through time when emotional connections are formed.

Love, despair, fear, envy, passion, hatred and kindness guide our motivations in the choices or decisions we make in life.

Students of literature are often expected to engage in critical appreciation of texts.

Values, culture and language, events or situations motivate characters’ actions and in turn, motivate readers’ reactions eliciting a new wave of interpreting ideas. And so the chain of literary discourse begins…

 

Reading for life connections and intellectual stimulation

Continue reading “Literary Life Lines”

Bookshop to Bookshelf

Bookshops still hold magical fascination with their multiple shelves  laden with the artistry of wordsmiths who have crafted stories and histories that are timeless as the works of Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen and a multiplicity of contemporary writers spanning many decades through to today.

 

 

The reader is transported into a world of heartbreak, love, crime, mystery, suspense, science fiction, fantasy, memoirs, how-to books and histories of generations past and predictions of the future. This is just the tip of the iceberg  in the bounteous valuable books that grace our libraries and bookshops.

 

My own fascination with books started with having a mother who is an avid reader and a maternal uncle who was eager to share his prized books from his stained glass, antique bookshelves that ran along four walls of his room. They were majestic and mysterious, a mini bookshop in a study.

 

Anna Karenina, A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations, and A Christmas Carol are fondly remembered as books that had cloth covers, were well-worn and difficult to return to the gracious lender, once read.

 

Hours spent lost in a bookshop brought cherished delight to my introverted world that was fascinated  by faraway places.  I mentally marked my next purchase and saved every nickel and dime, counting  my ducats each night like Shylock, but eager to have the money saved for the next great read. I loved birthday presents that were a few bobs here and there rather than an aliceband or cardigan which held no value in my world of books other than to keep my hair out of eyes when reading or keeping me warm on that winter afternoon when I remained riveted to the story.

 

Pennies saved to buy my beloved book is a tale I am bound to tell to the end of my days. Pennies wisely saved and wisely spent.

 

 

The treasured purchased book was safely carried home, my name was proudly etched with a fountain pen, in black ink,  in the most artistic font (so I thought) I was able to create in the words,  This book belongs to

 

Some sad tales of those cherished books were those lent out that either never made their way back home to my bookshelf or were unrecognisable in their dilapidated returned condition. I mourned the loss of and injury to my book pals.

 

Bookshops must never be forgotten nor cast aside, they should be the place where parents and grandparents take their young ones to, for the experience of a life time – the look of a cover, the feel of the pages and the words that bring endless delight whether read alone or read to by a melodious voice – these are memories that never fade.

 

A bookshop is a peaceful sanctuary of silent voices waiting to be heard.

 

Teaching children to save a bit of pocket-money to buy their favourite book inculcates a lifetime love of reading. Taking children to a bookshop to choose a book they want to read and then add to the beginnings of their book collection is an opportunity every child should have.

 

Spread the love – no age restriction applies if the content is appropriate!

 

 

Happy Reading! Happy Sharing!

 

Share your bookshop experiences in the message box below.

 

Why a sequel?

Do writers plan to write a sequel? Why are sequels so popular?

Sometimes they are planned and sometimes they grow from the first book for a host of reasons.

We live in an age where we are desirous of connections for the long haul, we want more as we book our Netflix favourite series into our private calendar time-slots; we crave more when we connect or are moved by a story and its people.

We desire more of what we enjoy, what we look forward to. Connections with people and places make us reluctant to leave. The story is anticipated as an after work or relaxing weekend read. It’s locked in and beware the unsolicited ringing of the telephone or doorbell! Solitude is non-negotiable!

For the writer, unfinished matters in the first book lead to the second book which unveils new situations and hidden aspects of characters and situations, sometimes shocking or expected and satisfying.

Picking up reader feedback from the first book while the sequel is being written is significant in ensuring that favourite characters are not destroyed or killed off too early, reader and writer satisfaction is imperative.

In the writing of my debut novel Across Time and Space, the sequel began to emerge by the end of the penultimate chapter, there was more my characters had to say, there was more that had to be revealed. The intrigue of the first tale created expectations that needed further exploration.  Relationships needed to grow.

Truth and deception were left skulking in the shadows at the olive grove in Viareggio in Across Time and Space and these ghosts came calling for more.

This made me restless to dive into the sequel, some cautioned ‘not so soon,’ others begged ‘when will it be ready?’ The process became an organic growth –an obsession to take the story to where it was leading me. Hence the birth of the sequel, Vindication Across Time.

Cover Design- Working Type Studio- Luke Harris
What will be lost, what will be gained when the dark forces of human nature obscure truth and justice?

Will this become an Across Time series?

The question we are left with is, ‘what are we keeping hidden from view in the hope of leading or appearing to lead a happy and by anyone’s definition, a ‘normal’ life?’

Coming to terms with our ghosts as something of the past rather than defining our present worlds is significant in Vindication Across Time. 

Whose ghosts will be exhumed in this tale of love, loss, hope, and patience?

Have you read, Across Time and Space?

What are your thoughts on book sequels and television series, what do you anticipate in Vindication Across Time? 

Please leave your comments in the message box below.

 

Announcement of Title

The joy of writing over several weeks and months is finally seeing the artist’s  impression in the cover design of the story that has emerged from, and lives in the writer’s imagination.

The much-anticipated sequel title to my debut novel, “Across Time and Space,” set for a spring release, depending on where you reside in the world, is :

VINDICATION ACROSS TIME

 

Cover Design- Working Type Studio- Luke Harris

             Will the Truth Prevail?

 

“Across Time and Space” is available at a discounted price while stocks last. Contact me through the website for availability.

 

Please share what you anticipate in, “Vindication Across Time”, in the message box below.

 

 

 

Do You Remember The Days?

Do you remember the things you did during your childhood that defines what you do as an adult?

 

I remember being passionate about drama, performance and the pleasure it elicited. When I say being passionate about plays, I mean reading them with great zeal.

 

Growing up in apartheid South Africa on the ‘wrong’ side of the colour line meant that going to the theatre was not an option. Additionally, television had not been introduced into the country. I make reference to this in an earlier post, To Kill a Mockingbird Moment Realised, here.

 

 

I remember going to the library, standing in a long queue to add my name on the waiting list for a particular playscript I was eager to read.

 

One such play that is vividly remembered is Toad of Toad Hall written by A.A Milne as the dramatisation of Kenneth Graham’s, The Wind in the Willows.

 

Toad of Toad Hall- A.A. Milne

 

Growing up under the horrendous apartheid regime in South Africa makes the adult me smile at this choice. As much as the child enjoyed Rat’s, Badger’s, Mole’s and Toad’s car and caravan adventures, the deeper issues were lost in the euphoria of ‘putting this on stage’ in the apartment building of my childhood.

 

Actors were sourced from eager children who were hungry for entertainment during the school break. Parents were at work and no laws protected downtown children from being left at home alone with an occasional check in from an elderly neighbour- this was all an aspiring eight-year-old producer needed!

 

Parts were allocated and lines rehearsed over two days. Pitch, tone, movement and a haphazard choreography were based on the whim of the eight-year-old producer who ensured she donned a hat and a scarf for a theatrical edge that was akin to those seen in magazines and the Sunday newspaper.

 

What a time was had by all! An intermission was in place and red Kool-Aid duly served as the drink of choice in plastic wine glasses to an innocent audience ranging in years from five to ten. Mothers’ costume jewellery, ‘plastic pearls’ and hats with feathers were placed askew on little heads for attendance at this momentous production in the dining-room of my parent’s apartment.

 

Innocent children made their debut into the world of theatre, revelling in being transported to a magical world away from the tedium and boredom that sets in after playing all the games children could come up with during a six-week long school break.

 

Fast-forward decades later, in another country of choice, the itch takes hold, not as a theatrical producer, but one who has started to pen fictional tales of life and its challenges, thus Across Time and Space is born.

 

Across Time and Space- Mala Naidoo

 

Such, such were the joys of childhood.

 

What do you remember of your childhood that lingers fondly as a defining moment? Share your thoughts below.

BOOK WEEK: TALKING WITH TEENAGERS

 

It’s with gratitude that I write this post today in respect for the invitation to speak on reading and writing at a local school whose English Faculty and Librarian are tirelessly working to foster a love for reading to encourage students to expand their horizons and improve their speaking and writing skills.

 

Leading up to my talk, students were asked to send me their response to, ‘I enjoy reading because…’ – a simple question that elicited some thoughtful responses from teenagers.

School Book Talk

Here are a few lines that suggest that young readers seek refuge between the pages of a book:

  • I enjoy reading because it is a spectacular and intriguing ticket to a distinctive and captivating dimension which either creates a gulp of despair or a shiver down my spine.
  • I enjoy reading because it allows me to be in two places at once.
  • I enjoy reading because it allows me to escape reality without leaving the comfort of my home
  • I enjoy reading because it allows me to broaden my horizons without having to get on a ship and sail halfway across the world…
  • I love reading because my heart is satisfied- my heart learns more than my brain can ever know- I learn priceless lessons. It’s the portal to my heart.

Continue reading “BOOK WEEK: TALKING WITH TEENAGERS”

Need A Good Book?

Librarians are Writers’ Greatest Allies in their Ability to Influence the Joy of Reading

 

 

It gives me great pleasure, today, to introduce you to Fiona Sharman who has kindly shared her passion for her favourite books. One of Fiona’s favourite quotes is from ‘Pride and Prejudice’, when Mr. Bennet says, ‘for what do we live but to make sport for our neighbours, and laugh at them in turn?’ Continue reading “Need A Good Book?”

Podcast: In Conversation – BOOK TALK

 

Book Talk today is with my guest, Sevgi Yildiz, Coordinator of the Sydney Book Club, on her reading of Across Time and Space and the writing process.

I hope you enjoy listening in. Please leave a message in the comment box below or subscribe to receive future posts, newsletters on writing and updates on the upcoming sequel to, Across Time and Space.

In Conversation on ‘Across Time and Space’

TO SPEAK OR NOT TO SPEAK?

 

The writing life is one of quiet solitude if writing in crowded spaces is not conducive to creative thought for some.

While writing fiction might entail living within the confines of one’s imagination, there emerges the gratitude for precious moments spent with close friends who understand the writer’s period of ‘absence’ from the social hub. The art of conversation keeps books alive as stories unfold, are morphed and recreated to generate hours of pleasurable reading.

 

Precious moments are often a coffee catch up and soulful reconnecting.

 

Being in the moment, in conversation with the person should be valued for the human contact with authentic people who question nothing and accept everything for the sheer pleasure of personal engagement.

 

Being in conversation with someone, seeing their joy and fears, hearing their laughter and feeling their moments of distress is priceless – no mobile phone interaction or other social media platform can replicate the shared face to face rather than face time interactions. To be able to reach out and touch the hand of someone to console them or share belly aching laughter is the essence of human communication and interactions.

 

I recall some years ago being in a restaurant in LA, having an early dinner, after a day of sightseeing, when I noticed a young family, parents and two children at dinner with heads down, eyes glued to the handheld devices they scrolled through as they ate dinner in silence.

 

Cyberspace engagement in favour of human company is creeping into relationships, eroding the exhilaration of animated or quiet conversation between and among people. This makes those in company, particularly the elderly, for whom a virtual world does not equate with social engagement, feel ignored or unimportant.

 

Looking someone in the eye as they speak to you indicates you are responsive to what they are saying- it makes them feel valued that you are attentive.

 

Going out to coffee or lunch should be valued for the precious connection to the human face, feeling the pulse, as it were, of those in company.

________________________________
As you would know by now, there’s always a quotation or two ready to seal the message of the day.

 

My idea of good company is the company of clever, well-informed people who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company. ~ Jane Austen

 

Conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative~ Oscar Wilde

 

A single conversation across the table with a wise person is worth a month’s study of books. ~ Chinese Proverb

                             ______________________________

Are we slipping further and further into an age where the only conversation we might be exposed to will be the dialogue in a novel?

 

Are you keeping the art of face to face conversation alive? Share today what you value the most about conversations with good friends and family or if you have a different view. Share your views in the comment box below.

 

Book Launch – Writer’s Joy!

I look back on Sunday with a glad and grateful heart. To see so many positive, supportive readers, friends, and family at the book launch of my novel, ‘Across Time and Space’ makes the process of writing a blessing – a joy!

What a wonderful afternoon of sharing ideas and experiences, reading and making new friends. To gather with people who are appreciative of the craft of writing is what cradles a writer through the quiet periods of solitude when the creative muse is the only other presence. Authentic voices that speak in the language of the mind and soul makes readers want more as they eagerly anticipate further stories.

To see aspiring young writers wanting to know more about the craft is invigorating.

My message has been and always will be – We all have a story to tell, let your voice be heard, do not let fear inhibit you.

This reader view sums up the connection to characters and events:

‘To be able to recognise human effort and spirit and hear voices that echo the wisdom that long creates our sense of self is the essence of the novel, ‘Across Time and Space’. The sentimental and poignant voices of the characters are authentic in their quest for recognition of self and existence, with both protagonists striving for justice both literally and metaphorically. The courage of conviction and desire for liberation may come at a cost, but dismantling the shackles of human limitation is far more rewarding. ‘Across Time and Space’ proves that the difference between impossibility and improbability is our own fear – abolishing fear and harking into our soul will set us free. I truly believe from a reader’s perspective, that’s what the psychological journey of Marcia nd Meryl is all about’. ~ (Khadija Taiba –  reader perspective at the book launch of ‘Across Time and Space’)

‘Across Time and Space’ straddles the positivity of coexistence in society regardless of difference, a message that is palpable today.  Decisions, choices, danger, and love connect to our essential state of being. Bullying and professional injustice, crime, and deception all knit together in the fabric of life where challenges serve to create the best version of those who struggle. The endurance of the human spirit shines as the brightest star on the darkest night in this tale of possibilities now and into the future.

I hope you will pick up a copy of ‘Across Time and Space’ and share your connections.

Which characters and situations resonate with you?

Get your copy of ‘Across Time and Space’ today. (Amazon, Book Depository, Abbeys Bookshop)

http://amzn.to/2mVO3z4

http://bit.ly/2sp4eEy

http://www.abbeys.com.au/book/across-time-and-space.do

http://www.loot.co.za/search?cat=qb&terms=Across+Time+and+Space+by+Mala+naidoo

 

 

 

Research and Sensitivity in Stories

A post read recently suggested writing from a knowledge base and not from imaginative creations that might be insensitive if writing about mental illness, physical disabilities, emotional disorders etc. While I agree with being sensitive by not causing injury to others, art should mimic and extend reality if understanding and connections are to be formed.

The question is – does one have to proceed with caution when creating a character with mental illness or a physical disability in a novel?

The depiction becomes insensitive when it supports stereotypes, insults, separates and denigrates actions and situations the character is placed in. To create a character who overcomes a difficulty by honing other powerful skills or having amazing support from family and community to achieve goals is indeed not insensitive but rather supportive of what a cohesive humanity is – certainly a message for raising the lot of the human condition.

The foremost purpose of writing, fiction, in particular, is to entertain the reader more than to inform. However, if the writer is able to strike a balance between entertain and inform, the reader is likely to gain valuable understanding from such a piece of writing. If written without dictating what is right and wrong then sensitivity should prevail and the writer is more likely to connect with the consciousness of the reader which might motivate the reader to read more books by the same writer.

When entertainment and purposeful information are included in a work of fiction, a level of research is necessary to sustain the story to its logical, authentic conclusion. If the storyteller/writer has first-hand experience of events, social issues, illness, particular ways of thinking and behaving then research is not the prerequisite as it would be for a nonfiction book that covers specialised areas such as crime, history, science, psychology, culture, economics etc.

Research will not go amiss in fiction writing, it should add colour and depth to the story plot and character representations. When creating characters with a medical condition, research around the condition or perhaps speaking to a medical specialist on how the condition manifests will add authenticity to the story. How much research should one engage in is dependent on how significant that character is to the overarching story or plot. Striking a seamless balance between the story and research is essential to avoid having the story appear like an ‘unofficial’ handbook or textbook. Shaping characters in true to life situations are more likely to lead to an enjoyable reading experience. For the writer to create authenticity in a story, it is necessary that the purpose of writing is to entertain first and then inform on matters that pertain to character and plot.

The writer has to give voice first to what he or she is passionate about. If one is to expose the harsh reality of particular situations prevalent in society, then that which makes the reader uncomfortable is equally necessary. We bandy around that we need to be ‘moved’ for change to occur – to be ‘moved’ is either happily or unhappily so, with joy or sadness. If we are to be catalysts for thought change through writing fiction or nonfiction books, it should come with some thought-provoking messages – George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four might leave readers either grateful that they have control of the decisions they make in life or it might result in a re-examination of whether they are indeed free.

Fiction and nonfiction books are of equal value to the reader when they create thought change or thought searching connections.

What do you think? Should sensitivity be at the heart of all our writing? Should the writer entertain, inform and shock the reader?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Please comment below.