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NaNoWriMo: It’s Here Again! Will You Be Joining In?

NaNoWriMo Participant-2014-Web-Banner

Yup, it’s that time again and I’m ready for it! I wasn’t sure if I could handle NaNo and still work on my novel (The Sword Bearer’s Ascension: Book 4) and get it finished for publication early next year, but I think a specific goal of reaching 50 000 words in 30 days will encourage me to set aside a few hours every day to do both NaNo AND Book 4 and complete them by the end of November. Hey, I’ve never done anything in small measures in my entire life and I’m not about to start now!

The South African Flag

The South African Flag – SA, my first home on this earth.

Moving from South Africa to the UK was utterly exhausting, as you can imagine. Picking up your entire life and dumping it in another country is not for the faint of heart and should not be attempted too often in one’s life. Exhaustion aside, I am thrilled to be here in a country that appreciates fantasy and science fiction authors more than they do in SA. Sad but true. I was told by an agent in SA that the fantasy genre is a difficult sell in our country, local author or not. As it is, there isn’t much room for the arts in any form there unless the community does all the work and finds private funding. Thankfully, there are the handful in each field, including a few corporations, that have the passion to make things happen in the face of ignorance and apathy; our leaders have no idea that without the arts a nation has no soul and will soon die. They are oblivious to the enormous potential of its highly skilled and talented people, of which there are thousands, therefore these struggling artists get no recognition or support from their useless, unaware leaders.

I have many South African author friends and they are doing fantastic things on their own and raising awareness in their field. They love what they do, and despite how hard it is to be an artist in SA they are thriving because they’re doing what they love. They make me proud to be a writer and an artist.

Make time to write every day even if it's just for a few minutes! Feed your soul!

Make time to write every day even if it’s just for a few minutes! Feed your soul!

NaNoWriMo is growing in leaps and bounds, and I am proud to be part of it again this year. South Africa did brilliantly last year and I just know they’ll do even better this year. I will always support and encourage them. This year I am thrilled to be part of a huge writing community in the UK that is participating in NaNo. Hello, Kent! This year I am sticking to a scifi novel. As I work on finishing my epic fantasy tetralogy I am looking forward to having new projects to focus on next year, and since I will have two novels – one, a mixed genre of fantasy, scifi, horror, and western from 2012 – and this year’s scifi, along with another horror/scifi short story, I will have lots to keep me busy in 2015.

So tell me, dear Writer, are you participating this year? I would love to hear what you have up your sleeve and which tactics you will be implementing to succeed. Do share. If you need to chat and discuss issues and even your fears of not making the word count goal then let’s chat about it and encourage one another. I wish you luck and word count success by the 30th! I will keep you updated on my own progress right here. Now, go write!

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Don’t Sell Yourself Too Cheaply – You are of Great Worth

Yesterday I went to the Chinese Mall and Dragon City in the south of Johannesburg (South Africa) to do shopping for our huge dance show being held in November. Now anyone who lives in JHB and is aware of what’s going on in their world knows about the Chinese Mall and Dragon City for their cheap prices for absolutely ANYTHING you can think of!

English: Hillbrow and the Hillbrow Tower

JHB (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now, I hadn’t been to this particular Chinese Mall/China Town before so I was very curious to see it and experience what all my friends have been raving about, what with the “amazingly cheap clothes” to the “cheapest props, costumes, and make-up for ballet festival you can imagine” to “OMG the handbags (purses) there are just divine!” So off I trundled with my two partners in the ballet studio and, boy, was I left flabbergasted: toys, clothes, party favours, hardware, software, cellphone accessories, kitchen ware, food, fake flowers, bags of every kind, underwear, wigs, make-up, glitter, glitter, oh, and more glitter . . . and the list goes on and on and on! Whew! For six hours we shopped ‘til we literally dropped, surviving on chips (potato chips), Iron Brew (kinda like Dr Pepper/Root Beer) and ice cream because we had no time to sit and have a decent lunch! Uh-uh, we were on a mission, and with the exception of three items we couldn’t find due to lack of time we fully loaded the SUV and sat in stunned silence, bathing in the glory of success for a few minutes before driving home and collapsing into our husbands’ arms with a sigh and whining for real food and comfort – physical and emotional! And on top of it all it was the end of the month (payday) weekend!! We were NUTS!

Despite having conquered the Great Chinese Challenge – for a few hours at least – I understood that although we got everything we needed at literally a quarter the price we’d get it anywhere else, the items were not of the highest quality and will most probably only last a short while. It sufficed, however, for what we needed it for – one show with crazy, energetic kids who will no doubt wear out every item we bought in no time – therefore sacrificing quality for cheap quantity is, in fact, a good thing in this case.

When I finally recovered, and my energy levels were back to normal, and I braced myself for the Social Media Catch-up I was about to face for neglecting my relationship/book promo duties for an entire day, I opened my emails and Facebook and Twitter and discovered a plethora of invites for FREE books and Give-aways.

Now, having just been to a place where ‘cheap’ was the order of the day, and I had my first experience of such apparent disregard of the coin in exchange for goods, I was struck by how many writers give away their very hard work for nothing, or relatively nothing. Now don’t get me wrong, I understand the power of offering your book for free as a means to promote your work and invite interest and attention, but if it’s done too often and for too long it can eventually become detrimental to who you are and what you really want.

I know that when I get clothing or make-up or shoes for a very low price then I understand I am receiving something of lower quality, as well, something that won’t last and satisfy me for very long. When a writer keeps giving their work away for free I have to wonder why; I become a little suspicious and sometimes a little stand off-ish.

Personally, when someone pays the full price for my books it is such a great feeling because it justifies all the hours, days, and months of work, sweat, and sometimes tears of frustration I put into writing my stories, and it tells me that people are truly interested in reading my books because they believe it’s worth their time and money. What an incredible compliment!

To paraphrase Hemingway: as writers we sit at our typewriters and BLEED. Now what does it say of us when we keep giving away our work for nothing? Do we think so little of ourselves and our abilities?

If freebies are used as the occasional incentive, or as an introduction to me and my work, then it can be a very effective tool. But, in my opinion, if it’s done too often it decreases the value of my work and snubs the inordinate amount of time I put into creating it.

The temptation to give our work away is huge because, let’s face it, at the end of the day we want to be KNOWN, we want recognition, we want to stand out from the hundreds of thousands of writers out there and make the world SEE us.

I know some of you reading this will disagree with me, and there might even be some of you who can testify to the power of give-aways, and I will eagerly applaud your success, but please just make sure that you are not selling yourself too cheaply, that people understand that what you are offering is quality stuff, and then, of course, make sure you produce and present high quality stuff to your readers.

There’s nothing worse than a free book and the quality of that book turning out to be as inferior as the price!

Book 2 in The Sword Bearers Series – This book took me a year to write, rewrite, edit, and publish! It’s too precious to give away carelessly!

It’s hard for me to fight the temptation to give away freebies of my work because I am quite new to this writer’s world myself, but even I can see the dangers in selling myself too eagerly and too freely just to get known. I have to trust in the process, and I have to trust that as I build relationships with other authors and readers that slowly but surely I will get the results I want. In the meantime, I work hard at improving my craft and producing top quality work, knowing that when someone pays $3.50 for my Kindle book they will definitely be getting what they paid for, if not more!

If you agree or disagree please let me know! I love hearing honest, heart-felt stories from you all.

It’s Women’s Day in South Africa! Today I Honour the Women Who Influenced My Life

Polina Seminova

Yup, we’re celebrating the beauty, courage, and glory of South African women today, and I can’t help but think of all the incredible women I have met in my life who have changed and shaped me into who I am today:

Firstly, my mom who gave unselfishly and consistently of herself in every way – although she was a single mom and had to work her heiny off to feed me and make sure I had the best education. She also sacrificed so much to allow me the opportunities to pursue my dream of becoming a professional ballet dancer. Through Art School (high school), after-school dance studios (ballet, modern, and tap) and every possible dance competition I wanted to partake in, she made sure I did it all. As a child I was never aware of the enormous pressure she was under – financial and emotional – until I grew up and looked back and understood! So today I honour her and express my love and thanks for being so amazing and generous and caring.

Fred and Ginger – Sublime Performers!

Secondly, I honour all the excellent dance teachers I had throughout my life. From the age of five I had a group of ‘second-mothers’ who moulded me and pretty much created the person/artist I am today because of their incredible talent and passion and love of dance: Mavis Senior (Tap Teacher since I was five); Ethné Ferraris (Royal Academy of Dance Ballet Teacher since I was seven); Ruth Inglestone (Cecchetti Ballet Teacher since I was twelve); Dianne Souter (Tap and Modern teacher since I was fifteen); Adele Blank (Artistic Director of Free Flight Dance Company). These women each contributed towards turning me into a brilliant dancer; their training was flawless and I ate it up!! I loved them all very much and I know they loved and cherished me and the relationship we shared. Each of them gave in such different ways, but combined they created the kind of dancer that could perform any style of dance without much effort. This stood me in good stead throughout my professional career; I couldn’t have been the performer I was without them.

Strangely, although I am now a writer, I still carry their spirit and passion within me. The attention to every detail, the desire for perfection, the drive, the love and addiction I have for the art of writing could not have been mine if I had not met those wonderful women. In a sense, while I have published already, I am still a student, still learning my craft, still achieving perfection and learning how to become better and better. They taught me how to embrace the mistakes and the failures and turn them into successes. Those are lessons engraved on my heart and my very soul where my stories are born and where my spirit takes flight – not in dance anymore, but through words. Just as dance has rhythm, flow, imagination, joy, light and shade, effortlessness, beauty, passion, tension, drama, and magnetism, so does writing! I’m sure you all agree, yes?

Shirley Maclaine – she inspired me to be a great performer like she was and still is!

I am privileged and honoured to be a woman today, a woman shaped and moulded by such excellent examples of character, integrity, love, joy, and heart.

I’m sure, ladies, that you also have wonderful tales about the women in your life who have influenced and shaped you into the gorgeous, talented beauties you are today. Please won’t you share your stories with us? It would be wonderful to be uplifted and rejoice in your uniqueness – but together as women, the one thing we all share!

To read more about the true meaning and history of Women’s Day in South Africa please click on this link: Women’s Day South Africa 9 August

Flag of South Africa

Flag of South Africa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

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