Human Trafficking Month

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I’m baaack! After a few weeks of withdrawal from social media, I’m excited to plunge back in and continue on this wonderful journey. I just love that warm & fuzzy feeling of interacting with my readers through this blog, sharing my thoughts about different things, and talking about the stuff I love to write about.

Well, I can hardly contain the excitement as I spill out my latest news! My new release, Finding Freedom, is launching January 28th! This story is very close to my heart.

Human trafficking is a topic not many know a whole lot about. Although human slavery has been around forever, most folk believe it stopped years ago when slavery was abolished. But, that’s not the case at all. It’s far more dangerous now because we can’t see it. There are more human slaves in captivity today than at any other time in history – to be specific, somewhere between 20-30 million people worldwide!

Makes you think, doesn’t it?

That is the theme of my latest book, Finding Freedom. When I started working on this book, the topic of human trafficking was extremely hush-hush. But, I felt drawn to it and compelled to expose it. I needed to scratch through the crusty surface and find out more. There were literally zero articles about the topic (at least, not where I was looking), like it simply didn’t exist.

Through the course of researching and writing the book (which took me 3 years, by the way), slowly but surely I noticed little snippets of information being released in the media. It was incredible to observe something so secretive and sinister, gradually being publicized and exposed.

Now we have Human Trafficking month (January), worldwide campaigns, and law enforcement units dedicated to fighting this evil. It’s been amazing to sit on the outskirts and watch it unfold at the same time my book was taking shape.

I’m just so thankful for all the organizations and individuals out there who are trying to make a difference. My hope is that Finding Freedom will further create awareness of this evil. Presented in novel format with realistic characters, I hope this book helps people grasp the intricacies of human trafficking in an easy-to-understand manner.

Can’t wait to read your comments!

Creative Constipation

WB 2Ah, I was hoping to find you here. A few weeks ago, I diagnosed myself with a solid dose of the disease every writer dreads…writer’s block.
I’ve had twinges of WB before, but nothing like this. I even doubt my usual genre and question whether I actually have what it takes. I float across several genres and struggle to find my fit, even though I’ve made it work so many times before.

They say the only cure for WB is to WRITE. Believe me, that’s what I’ve been trying to do. But, the more I write, the more I’m convinced I can’t do it. It’s not due to a lack of ideas or writing material. In fact, I’ve been working on three great story ideas, each at various stages of development. I’ve even gone as far as creating detailed outlines for all of them, doing character sketches, writing enticing beginnings, multi-faceted middles, and unpredictable endings with cool twists and turns, have come up with character names and clever titles (for the most part)…BUT when I sit down to flesh out my stories, I sit staring into space and struggle to make progress. I know what works for me, and I know what doesn’t. I understand the practicalities of pushing through and just writing. But it’s not as easy as that. (In case you think you’ve cured me, no, I’m not working on all three ideas at once. :] )

I’ve officially put aside (more like ripped to shreds and chucked into a blender) my latest WIP (Work in Progress). I heard once that there’s no such thing as writer’s block, and at one stage believed sufferers should just “get over it.” Hoo boy, how wrong I was.

Having said that, however long this takes there’s one thing I will never do. I will never give up.

I Googled this dread disease and here’s a cool article I found. (If you love the title of this blog, here’s where you get to see where it came from.) http://goinswriter.com/how-to-overcome-writers-block/

I’d love to hear from those of you who have vanquished this enemy and lived to tell the tale (literally).

Ridiculously Mind-Blowing and Completely Useless Writing Facts

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The word “tip,” meaning a gratuity, was originally an acronym standing for “To Insure Promptness.”
The word “queue” is the only word in the English language that is still pronounced the same way when the last four letters are removed.
Of all the words in the English language, the word “set” has the most definitions.
“Almost” is the longest word in the English language with all the letters in alphabetical order.
“Rhythm” is the longest English word without a vowel.
The longest word used by Shakespeare in any of his works is “honorificabilitudinitatibus,” found in “Love’s Labours Lost.”
The name LEGO comes from the Danish, “LEg GOdt,” which means “play well.”
The only 15 letter word that can be spelled without repeating a letter is uncopyrightable.
No word in the English language rhymes with month, silver or orange.
The word “geriatrics” was not coined until 1951.
Eskimos have more than twenty words to describe snow.
The act of snapping one’s fingers has a name. It is called a “fillip.”
A “clue” originally meant a ball of thread. This is why one is said to “unravel” the clues of a mystery.
The ampersand (&) was once a letter of the English alphabet.
The only three words in the English language to have 2 consecutive u’s are vacuum, residuum, and continuum.
Shakespeare invented the word “assassination” and “bump.”
The phrase “rule of thumb” is derived from and old English law which stated that you couldn’t beat your wife with anything wider than your thumb.
The “dot” over the letter “i” is called a tittle.

…and Useless Facts Unrelated to Language, but Deserving of Honorable Mention…
Charlie Chaplin once won third prize in a Charlie Chaplin look-alike contest.
Chewing gum while peeling onions will keep you from crying.
Los Angeles’s full name is “El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de losAngeles de Poriuncula” and can be abbreviated to 3.63% of its size, “LA.”
Bats always turn left when exiting a cave.
The microwave was invented after a researcher walked by a radar tube and a chocolate bar melted in his pocket.
The “pound” key on your keyboard is called an octotroph.
The volume of the Earth’s moon is the same as the volume of the Pacific Ocean.
The house fly hums in the middle octave key of F.

Cool-Sounding Words that are Actually Words
callithump—a loud parade.
googol—the figure 1 followed by 100 zeros (where “Google” comes from).
haruspex—an ancient Roman priest who practiced fortunetelling by reading entrails of sacrificed animals.
hendecasyllabic—an adjective applied to a line of verse of eleven syllables.
Pneumoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis—a disease of the lungs developed by coal miners from breathing underground fumes.
pseudepigrapha—spurious writings, particularly those attributed to Biblical sources.
scop—an old English poet.

 

Makes you want to say them over and over, doesn’t it? callithump…callithump…callithump…

Cool Characters

Here’s your chance to talk about the coolest character you’ve ever created, one that’s impacted your life in some way.11802048_111528785859748_2021885595_n

Ooo, ooo, ooo, me first! Without a doubt that would be Samantha Stafford, one of the characters in Lucia’s Web. She’s not even the protagonist, just a quirky sidekick, but for some reason this girl has been consuming my thoughts and invading my dreams. I have no idea why, because Sam’s the polar opposite of me.
Where I think before I speak, Sam repeatedly has to yank her foot from her mouth. Where I can get pretty anxious about things, Sam’s permanently calm and unflappable.
Sam is adventurous and flamboyant in her expression, a sort of bohemian free-thinker locked in the twenty-first century, and as quirky as they come. She’s bold and bubbly, not afraid what anybody thinks of her, and is comfortable in her own skin. She’s not the most articulate, but that doesn’t phase her in the least.
I have no idea why I feel so drawn to her, but I do.
Her fashion sense is a reflection of her carefree personality. She carries this pink, floral, embroidered bag everywhere she goes which, until recently, I wouldn’t have been caught dead using. But…lately I’ve been on a crazed hunt for a bag just like hers. My husband thinks I’ve lost my marbles and I can’t blame him. The poor guy just humors me, but I’ve promised to only go for a mild version of the “Sam bag” as I call it, and not the full-on hippie-type bag she carries.
I’m even tempted to buy myself a pair of dungarees and a few stringy tops to try out some weird expression that doesn’t even come close to my personality or dress style. I’m generally pretty safe in the way I dress, but I’ve secretly started hankering for a more relaxed style, which isn’t like me at all. (Not brave enough to try out the full repertoire of hippie apparel, but a slightly more relaxed style is tempting.)
The other day I had an “aha” moment, and considered Sam as protagonist in a new series I’m mulling over. Hmmm…something to think about. I think she’d like that.

It’s a weird thing, don’t you think? Fleshing out characters with unique personalities, making them so real that it almost hurts to remember they only exist in your head. (Say it’s not so!) Sam’s just so cool and easy-going; she wouldn’t be offended by my last statement. I love her openness, her ability to be herself and not hold back. If only there were a few more Sams around, the world would be a calmer place.

Now it’s your turn…

Lucia’s Web Wins!!!

The results of the Highlighted Author cover art competition were announced yesterday…and Lucia’s Web won FIRST PLACE in the mystery category! Thanks to the judges, and especially to Amanda Matthews for her stunning design. I feel so honoured to have won!!

golden star awards 1st place - mystery trophy

A World of Wacky Words

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Every book I’ve read throughout my life has been about American characters who live in America, and who live American lives. When I first started writing, I thought the location for all my stories had to be based in the US. It was a challenge trying to replicate that since I’ve never been there myself. In any case, any American would spot my sorry attempt a mile away.

Don’t get me wrong, I love anything to do with America and my greatest desire is to visit that beautiful country one day. But I didn’t think it would be fair to the majority of my readers to fabricate something I couldn’t relate to firsthand. I wondered whether a change in setting could work. Wouldn’t my stories be richer if filled with personal experiences and authentic touches? Where I could truly and honestly convey the sights, sounds, and smells of towns and cities I’ve grown up in? Hey, maybe there’re a few people who’d actually LIKE to be transported to places they’ve never visited. Those settings may seem laboriously familiar to me, but perhaps to somebody else it would actually be interesting. (‘Aha’ moment.)

When I adopted that viewpoint, putting my characters in familiar settings became easier, and actually more fun!

Now, clearly some words we use are a little different and, of course, we spell things differently, too. That posed another challenge. If I was going to set my stories in SA, would I go with US or UK spelling and grammar? Or US spelling and grammar, but UK (SA uses UK) terminology? (My conclusion is that it all depends on the publisher and my target market.) Finding the right balance has been challenging at times, but loads of fun.

If I were to use primarily SA terminology in my books, half the world wouldn’t know what I was talking about. So, I’ve had to train myself to “think like an American” when I write – e.g. “elevator” instead of “lift” and “hood” instead of “bonnet.” Oodles of South Africanisms wouldn’t work in a book that’s aimed at a worldwide audience…so for today’s blog I’ve decided to share some fun words and phrases we use. Hope you enjoy…

 

AG: An exclamation of irritation

BABBELAS: Hangover

BAKKIE: Pick-up truck

BALLIE: Old man

BILTONG: Dried meat, similar to jerky

BLIKSEM: Punch / beat up

BOET: Term of affection / brother

BOEREWORS: Traditional sausage, esp. used on a braai

BRAAI: Barbeque

BUNDU: Wild remote country

COZZY: Swimming / bathing costume

EINA! Ouch!

EISH: Oh no / goodness me / gosh (I use this all the time.)

DONNER: Punch / beat up

DORP: A small town

GATVOL: Fed up / had enough

HOOTER: Horn (car)

HOWZIT: Hello / how are you?

JA: Yes

JISLAAIK: An expression of outrage or surprise

JUST NOW: A little later on

KOKI: Felt-tip pen / marker / sharpie

KOMBI: Minivan

LARNEY: Fancy

LEKKER: Nice / great / pleasant

LIFT: Elevator

MEALIE: Corn on the cob

MUTI: Medicine

NAPPY: Baby’s diaper

NOW NOW: Fairly soon

PADKOS: Food for the journey

PAP: Mealie meal / ground maize

PAVEMENT: Sidewalk

ROBOT: Traffic light

ROCK UP: Arrive somewhere unannounced

RUBBISH BIN: Garbage can

SHAME/AG SHAME: Means “oh cute’ or “you poor thing” or “I feel sorry for you”. (I use this all the time, too!)

STOEP: Veranda

TAKKIES: Sneakers

TORCH: Flashlight

VELD: South African countryside

VOETSEK: Go away / buzz off

Did you know?

unusual habits

  • Charles Dickens, Winston Churchill, Ernest Hemingway, and several other writers all wrote standing up.
  • Mark Twain was at his most creative lying down.
  • J.D. Salinger wrote in the nude (I kid you not!).
  • Agatha Christie and D.H. Lawrence wrote in the bath.
  • Vladimir Nabokov wrote on index cards.
  • Gay Talese would pin pages of his writing to a wall and examine them from the other side of the room with binoculars.

What unusual/quirky habit defines your personal writing regimen? A strong cuppa jo to get you started? Listening to classical music while you work? A painfully detailed outline before you get a single creative word on paper (like me)? Even if it’s not quite as outrageous as those of well-known writers, I’d love to hear about it.

Submit your answer in the “leave a comment” block and let’s get some fun ideas rolling.

(If you follow my Blog, you’ll automatically be entered into a draw for a free e-copy of Lucia’s Web!)

Can’t wait to hear from you.

 

The above info was found in these links:
http://writerswrite.co.za/the-unusual-work-habits-of-eight-great-writers
http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/12/09/teaching-twain-and-huckleberry-finn-with-the-new-york-times/?_r=0