10 Things You didn’t know about GoS

10 Things You didn’t know about GoS



I am hard at work on two current projects but I thought I’d share a few fun facts about the Guardians of Summerfeld series with you today!

Here they are (in no particular order)

  1. The original concept was inspired by Noah’s Ark.
  2. The name Summerfeld was based on the countryside near where I live which, while pronounced “Summerfeld” is actually spelled “Summerveld.” I changed the spelling because I wanted my international readers to be able to pronounce it properly.
  3. All of my children have surnames for first names and I always said if I ever had another little girl her name would be Quinn. When I realised I was done with the baby-making, I gave the name to my favourite Guardian.
  4. Evangeline didn’t exist until the eleventh hour and in all of my original planning only the Hawkstone was needed to open the Rose Gate.
  5. Hawkstone and Cliffdale are street names I read on my way to an animal farm in Summerfeld with my kids and I made a note to use them in the series. Likewise, Dragon’s Peak and Cathedral Peak (the mountains within the City) are real peaks in the Drakensberg mountains in Kwa-Zulu Natal – one of my favourite holiday destinations.
  6. In the initial plotting, Quinn was supposed to discover that her mother had been one of the Fae royalty, but this didn’t work because… well… incest 😉
  7. The name Drake is derived from the old Norse given name Draki, meaning “Dragon”.
  8. I originally intended for GoS to be a 5-book series, but I eventually decided to scrap “The Secret of the Slayer” and stick to only 4 books rather than draw the story out unnecessarily.
  9. I have a friend whose niece and nephews’ names were all used in GoS – Tane, Rafe and Enah.
  10. This is the first book/series I have written in the third person narrative. I favour the first person narrative, which comes more naturally to me, but given the vast amount of characters in this series, I felt that this was the only way to do it justice.

I hope everyone is having a fabulous Tuesday!

Much love,


Setting an Example…

Setting an Example…

Recently I noticed a small bump on my daughter’s shoulder blade. It was a hard little growth, and I only noticed it because I was rubbing her back. I thought nothing of it and forgot all about it for a week or two, until she wore a vest, and her little not-so-little-friend said “hello!”

The small bump had grown into a fully-fledged growth, knobbly and red. It looked angry. Like a warrior wart, hell-bent on staking the ‘blade’ territory for its own. I stifled a shriek of terror and very casually stuck my nose to her shoulder, daring the growth to make its move. In defiance, it inflamed a large portion of the skin around it, turning it scarlet, and so I did what all women do when faced with the unknown in the world of children’s health. I scuttled to the doctor with my tail between my legs.

I have a mole on my chin (yes, hair does grow out of it, thanks so much for asking) and another on my back that wedges just underneath my bra strap and annoys me, so I figured I might as well get my money’s worth* and have him check those while he was at it.

[Aside] It’s important to note that these are not the only two moles I have on my person (as the previous sentence may imply) but they are the only two that I have any concerns about at this stage.

Dr Hoobastank (real names may have been altered to protect the identities of those concerned), took a long hard look at the wart-like growth on my daughter’s shoulder. Then he went to fetch a magnifying glass and took another long hard look. In the interim, I started humming the theme song from Mission Impossible and the wart farted. I’m almost sure of it.

“Right,” Dr Hoobastank announced, setting down the magnifier and pulling up his pants in that professional manner that I can never get right, no matter how many times I try. “I think it’s a wart. The best course of treatment is for us to burn it off and then to reassess in two weeks.”

You hear that, little man? You’re toast.

“Right,” I replied confidently, hoisting my own pants, which resulted in a rather unflattering camel-toe. “Let’s do that, then.”

At this point, I became aware that there wasn’t only the three of us in the room. My daughter was here too (the aforementioned three people being the doc, the wart and myself), and at the mention of burning it off she had started to do the brave-quiet-cry that makes moms hearts break and swell at the same time.

“It’s all right, Sweetheart,” I said, horrified at my lack of compassion. “It won’t hurt. Will it Doctor?”

“Well, it will hurt,” he replied smoothly, “but not too much.”

The tears flowed faster and I narrowed my eyes.

“It’s going to be fine, my baby. You’re a brave girl and it won’t hurt as much as you think,” I compensated, stroking her hair and wiping away a steady stream of tears. My stomach curled itself into that tight knot that only a mother understands. The thought of our children being in pain is agony and we wish simply that we could take it away – that we could endure the pain for them, because we would if it were humanly possible.

The doctor picked up the red jar which holds the evil liquid which freezes/burns off warts and at this point, my daughter started to panic slightly.

“I’ll do it,” she sniffed quickly, “but can you just tell me what you’re going to do?”

Like her father, this child needs to be prepared.

Doctor Hoobastank very kindly explained that he would be putting 5 “drops” of the solution onto the wart and then it would be over. He showed her the solution and waited until she gave a tiny nod of her head.

“I’ll do it,” she said in a tiny voice, “but will you please hold my hand, mommy?”

I charged forward like a bear protecting her cub and seized her little hand in my own.

“Mommy’s here,” I said, “it’s nothing to worry about. It won’t hurt Be brave.”

Five exhausting drops later it was done. My brave girl didn’t so much as whimper, but she clutched my hand like a lifeline the whole time. Children can be so frightened of the littlest things, I thought fondly. With plaster firmly in place, she sat up, and thanked the Doctor. My chest puffed with pride. Good manners, despite the fact that she was terrified. That’s my girl.

“Right,” said Doctor Hoobastank. “You mentioned something about a mole?”

“Oh yes!” I nodded, jutting out my chin. “This one hurts a bit, but I think there might be a pimple behind it.”

He lowered his gaze and shone his light on my hairy mole.

“It looks okay,” he announced, “when last did you have mole mapping done?”

I blushed. “I’m overdue, actually.” It made me sound pregnant, although with the size of my chin mole, it might well be hosting a spawn of little mole babies.

“You should do it as a matter of course every year.”

“I know. Now, this one,” I yanked up my shirt, exposing an obscene amount of white winter flesh. “Somewhere here,” I tried to reach the exact location on my back, in case he couldn’t spot it’s enormous self. “It hides under my bra strap.”

“Ah, yes,” he placed his finger on the precise spot. “Erm…” a pause, “actually, that’s not a mole. It’s a skin flap.” Being someone who has ample flaps of skin, I side-eyed him over my shoulder. To my surprise he had stepped back, his hand reaching for something.

“I can just burn that off,” he announced conversationally, holding up the red jar.

Not even when my parents came home mid-makeout session in my teens has my shirt been hoisted back into place so fast. I retreated backwards so quickly that I hit my ankle on the leg of his chair.

“Are you mad?” I shrieked, cowering under his astonished gaze. “I can’t,” I added, my voice unnaturally high. “I just can’t. What if it hurts!?!”

As the words left my mouth I realised what I’d just said. My gaze slid from Dr Hoobastank’s amused expression to the look on my daughter’s face. Her small forehead was creased into a frown, her mouth hanging open in surprise.

Doctor Hoobastank cleared his throat. My daughter stepped forward and took my hand.

“It’s not that bad, mommy, I promise,” she said, encouragement shining in her clear blue eyes.

I froze like a deer in the headlights.

“Here’s your chance to show her how brave you are,” Doctor Hoobastank offered cheerfully.

Look, I know you all want me to say I did it, that I proved myself to my child and braved the pain. But I’m not going to say that. I’m just going to go out and buy new bras.

Happy Thursday, everyone!





*I am not cheap, medical bills are expensive.

The Reed Files #3

The Reed Files #3

I tap my foot on the ground in agitation, wishing I had the excuse of training to escape the usual dinner time festivities. The food may be God-awful, but the company is always good here in the Rebeldom. What we lack in resources we make up for in revelry. Jessica sits to my left, nibbling on a chunk of bread. Her face is flushed, her hair escaping its braid, and she wears the same smile she’s been wearing for a week, since the night I let her into my bedroom.

Damn my stupid male pride! I should’ve taken Rachel to bed. I should’ve done exactly what the others expected me to do and left Jessica well alone. My attempt to prove Jeffrey wrong has backfired in the worst possible way. To be fair, I had no intention of bedding the girl, but she looked at up at me with those damn doe-eyes and the sweet curve of her lips was my undoing. She made me feel, for the briefest of moments, like the man Jeffrey expected me to be. And then, in the cold light of day, reality had reasserted itself and I’d realised that I had made a colossal mistake.

Blissfully unaware of my dark thoughts, Jess runs her hand through my hair.

“You need a haircut,” she laughs. Rachel, sitting across from us at the table, narrows her eyes at the intimate gesture. The feisty cadet, so cool and distant before, has morphed into a cat on heat since her non-threatening friend stepped out from her shadow and landed a man of her own. I’ve known so many women like Rachel, I could write a handbook. Sexy, strong, and overconfident, a girl who gets what she wants and takes what she gets, who surrounds herself with women she believes to be inferior so that she has no competition. Jessica, as a result of her relationship with me, is receiving far more attention than Rachel, and, unbeknownst to sweet, unassuming Jess, Rachel is spitting.

Rachel notices me watching her and arches her neck, rubbing at a tender spot at the tip of her spine. Her skin is a few shades darker than Jess’s, and her body is toned, a result of the hours spent outside training. Rachel is a good cadet, of that there’s no doubt. She works hard and she will make a valuable asset to Kenneth’s army.

I realise that Jess has fallen silent beside me, mistaking my scrutiny of her friend for something else. I take her hand, giving it a quick squeeze.

“I always need a haircut.” I say, getting to my feet. “I’m off to clean up,” I add, dropping a kiss on her upturned forehead.

I make a detour to visit Kenneth, who is in good spirits, although there has still been no word from Jeffrey. I have the utmost respect for the Vice President. Despite his age, his mind is as sharp as it ever was, and he did survive World War Three, a feat which, to my mind, is worthy of admiration. I wouldn’t have lasted five minutes that day, without Jeffrey.

“Hello, Reed,” Kenneth greets me warmly, rising from behind his desk to grip my hand in both of his.

“How are you feeling, Sir?” I ask. Kenneth’s health has been deteriorating for months now and looking at his pasty skin and the thin, beading line of sweat on his brow, I feel a tug of anxiety in my gut. Jeffrey is determined to reinstate Kenneth, but I fear he may not last long enough for Jeffrey’s dream to be realised.

“Better than I look,” Kenneth replies, giving me the ghost of a wink. “Any word from Jeffrey?”

“No.” I shake my head.

“Ah, well, these things take time. I wouldn’t lose heart just yet, son.”

I nod, feigning a confidence I don’t feel. Kenneth takes a deep breath and lowers himself back into his chair. His hands shake and I lose my nerve, not wanting to put any additional pressure on the man when he is so obviously not feeling well.

“I’ll see you later, Sir,” I say, and exit the office.

After a lightning shower, I head to my room and collapse on the thin mattress. I need to end things with Jess, sooner rather than later. The longer I put it off, the worse it will be, but the thought of hurting her is not something I cherish. Her sincerity and her realness remind me of Jeffrey. Ironically, she is the exact type of girl he would approve of me dating, if he ever took the time to ponder such trivial things.

I close my eyes and clasp my hands behind my head. Where are you, Jeffrey? If I haven’t heard from him by the end of the week I’m going to submit an application to enter NUSA. Our soldiers infiltrate the Cities all the time, although Kenneth is becoming less inclined to give permission, now that we are losing more men this way. Eric Dane has beefed up security at the fences and it is becoming increasingly difficult to access the States. Still, I have to try. I won’t abandon Jeffrey, even though he would probably kill me with his bare hands if I sacrificed myself to save him. Jeffery is a soldier, and a firm believer that one life is nothing in comparison to the greater good.

A gentle knock at the door rouses me.

“Come in,” I call. The door opens and Jess peeks through the crack.

“I have scissors,” she smiles, holding them up and making snipping motions. Her blue eyes are twinkling mischievously. I laugh, despite myself. Tomorrow, I think guiltily, I’ll end things tomorrow.

The Reed Files #2

The Reed Files #2

Jeffrey has been gone only a week and in his absence I have conducted myself impeccably. I’ve been in bed by ten, alone, for five of those seven nights, which for me is practically Saint-like. There has been no word from Jeffrey, which, while not entirely unexpected, leaves me in a state of permanent anxiety. If it wasn’t for Jeffrey, I wouldn’t even be here. I would’ve died, along with my parents in the first wave of nuclear attack. That day will forever be burned into my memory.

“Hello, Casey,” my dad’s voice dropped low, his green eyes narrowed as he gazed down at the pretty cadet.
“Hello Richard,” she grinned back, showing a mouth too full of teeth.
“This is my boy, Reed,” dad announced, pushing me forward.
“Well, aren’t you a cutie,” Casey announced, dropping onto her knee to look me in the eyes. I hoped she wasn’t a cheek-pincher. “He looks just like you,” Casey continued, looking up at my dad, who chuckled and stood a little straighter.
“I have a meeting in ten,” dad said, “and he’s bored. Could you keep an eye on him for an hour?”
Casey’s face dropped, her teeth disappearing inside her mouth. I knew that look. Casey didn’t want to watch me, but she didn’t want to admit it.
“I’m kind of busy, Rich,” she said, her eyes darting between him and me.
“Aw, come on, Case. I won’t be long. I’ll make it up to you,” he added, and Casey’s tongue darted out to lick her bottom lip.
“Okay,” she nodded, but she looked a lot less friendly than before.
“Great!” Dad clapped his hands and rubbed them together smugly. “Alright, champ, Casey here’s gonna keep an eye on you for a bit while daddy gets some work done.”
“I want to stay with you,” I say. “I want to see the tanks. You promised!”
“Now come on, Reed,” his voice is firmer now. “Dad has work to do. I’ll tell you what, as soon as I’m done, I’ll come and get you and we can take a tour, okay?”
“To see the tanks?”
“To see the tanks,” he promises.

“Mister McCoy,” a young cadet nods as he runs past, and jolts me out of my reverie. I refrain from shaking my head to clear it and instead I simply nod in return. Later, I am sitting in the shadows of the changing room when I hear a youthful voice ask: “Have you seen the new recruit?”
“Yes!” A chorus of excited agreement, “blonde, blue-eyed, legs that come up to here!” I can’t see them, but I assume the boy is gesturing at some unrealistic space above his hips.
“I wouldn’t mind those legs wrapped around my waist.”
“Don’t get any ideas,” the first voice cautions. “You know McCoy’s going to tag and bag her before any of us can even offer her a hand.” Guffaws of laughter and a few half-hearted shows of bravado follow.
“The man’s a legend,” another voice concedes eventually.

I get to my feet, not wanting to listen anymore. It’s always amused me, maybe even stroked my ego to have the younger cadets hero-worship me, but this is not how I want to be idolised. Not for something so trivial, something that comes so easily. I may love the ladies, but I do believe in Jeffrey’s vision to restore Kenneth to power and resurrect the old ways. I leave the change room through the back door and walk right into the topic of the cadets’ conversation.

There is no doubt in my mind that this is the new recruit who has the boys falling over themselves. Blonde, blue-eyed, with a fierceness about her that is intended to keep men at bay, but instead only makes her more appealing. She is so striking that for a moment I don’t even register the shy girl walking beside her.
“Sorry, ladies,” I drawl, instinctively giving the cadet a wicked grin.
“Mister McCoy,” she salutes, “Cadet Rachel Barrows, reporting for duty, Sir.”
“Nice to have you on board, Barrows.” I don’t look down. Those boys weren’t kidding about her legs. I deliberately turn to her companion, a pink-faced, sweet-looking girl who, although she has the same colouring as Rachel, pales in comparison. She is like a watered down version of the cadet, but her shy smile is appealing and I am determined to prove Jeffrey wrong. “And you are, miss?”
“Jessica,” the girl mumbles, meeting my gaze for a second before her courage fails her.

I extend my hand. “It’s a pleasure to meet you both,” I say, taking Jessica’s hand first. She is nothing special and so I focus on her, a simple, plain girl who cannot possibly get me into trouble.
Or so I think.


The Reed Files #1

The Reed Files #1

Reed is without a doubt my most memorable character. I had a blast creating him, and he has since taken on a life of his own. Initially, I planned to release a perma-free novella, diarising his childhood, but when I started, the story seemed disjointed and didn’t come together how I had hoped. So, instead, I decided to write snippets – glimpses into Reed’s life before he met Rebecca. As to what comes after, I have a surprise announcement coming soon 😉

(Please note that all and any entries in this Reed series are unedited, so the writing is raw, and typos may creep in)

This is the first in The Reed Files, but it certainly won’t be the last. Thank you all for falling in love with this character – #TeamReed means the world to me! And so, without further ado:


The REED Files #1


“Reed!” Jeffrey’s voice is stern and I leap out of bed, stubbing my toe on the bed post.
“Son of a bitch!” I hop on one foot, tears of pain pricking at my eyes and scan the floor for my pants. There! Half hidden under the bed, I crouch down to retrieve them and my eyes draw level with a long, tanned leg. My gaze drifts upward, appreciating every inch of the gloriously toned body emerging from the sheets until I meet a pair of come-hither blue eyes.
“Where are you going?” the girl asks, patting the sheet invitingly.
“Reed!” Jeffrey’s voice is louder now and I groan, snatching up the pants and hauling them on.
“Sorry, honey, duty calls.” I grin, reaching for a t-shirt as the door swings wide.
The girl gives a shriek and pulls the covers up to her neck, but Jeffrey Davis has eyes only for me.
“You’re late,” he barks, pointedly keeping his eyes fixed on me. They are dark and stormy, a reflection of his mood.
“Sorry,” I reply, slipping my feet into a pair of tattered sneakers. Turning to the girl I give her a wink. “You’ll let yourself out, right Anna?”
“It’s Ava!” she yells, and I chuckle as I duck my head to avoid the pillow she flings across the room.

“When are you going to learn?” Jeffrey asks as we make our way down the hall. “I didn’t bring you back from Georgia so you could impregnate the entire base.”
“I haven’t impregnated anyone,” I drawl, racking my brain to be sure.
“You’re going to hurt that girl. Just like all the others.”
I heave a sigh. Despite the fact that he’s not my blood, this man is the closest thing to a father I have ever known.
“I don’t make them any promises, Jeffrey.”
“You don’t have to,” he points out. “You just don’t realise the destruction you cause.” He looks pensive for a moment and then smiles. “One day some girl will come along and break your heart and I’m going to give her a medal for making you realise how it feels.”
“Alright, alright.” I change the subject, “so what’s with the early start, anyway?”
“Harrison wants a briefing before I leave for Michigan.”

Jeffrey has been talking about making a trip to Michigan for years, but I had started to believe he would never leave. His concern for Kenneth Williams’ health has kept him here, but I think he’s realised that the Vice president’s health will be an ongoing issue. If he doesn’t go now, he might never leave.
“You’re sure about this trip?”
“Yes. I’ve left it too long already. My daughter is in there. I have to see for myself that she’s safe.”
I press down the jealousy that rises in my chest. This daughter that he speaks of so highly gets under my skin. “Can I ask you a question?”
“You just did.”
It’s one of his standing jokes and I smile despite myself. “Why didn’t you just bring her back with you fifteen years ago? You went to Michigan then, you saw your wife, you saw Rebecca. Why didn’t you bring them back with you?”

Jeffrey doesn’t answer for a moment, striding confidently down the familiar hallways.
“I had every intention of doing just that,” he replies eventually. “Cara begged me to, but I said no. I never saw her again.” His eyes mist over and a lifetime of regret passes over him. “We had very little resources back then,” he explains, as though trying to remind himself. “We had barely any food and we were scrabbling for survival. The world I lived in was a dangerous place. Cara had made a home for herself, a home for Rebecca. She had a support system, they had stability and were as safe as they could be in a world gone mad.”
“Sounds like somewhere nice to be,” I point out.
“I had a responsibility to Kenneth,” his voice is harder now, “to my country. We were all that remained of the US government and we knew that sooner or later someone would try to seize control.”
“Enter Eric Dane,” I growl, the mere mention of his name brings the blood rushing to my head. Eric Dane’s guards had murdered more than a few of my comrades.
“Enter Eric Dane,” Jeffrey agrees quietly.

Eric Dane is a madman and murderer. Five years ago he erected the border fences to protect his wealth, his resources, and to ensure that none of us living out here in the Rebeldom could oppose his fictitious truth. He told the people of NUSA we were dead, we were monsters, we were dangerous, and, like children warding off evil, they believed. Over the past few years, during his meteoritic rise to power, the contrast between NUSA and the Rebeldom had become clearer and clearer. The fat cats in their luxurious, pre-war environment knew little to nothing of the struggle outside of the fences. I wonder idly if Rebecca Davis has any idea how hard life can be. In my mind I envisage a spoilt, weak girl who has no comprehension of loss. What chance could there possibly be that she will choose our side over the opulence of NUSA? I pray that Jeffrey isn’t going to be sorely disappointed in his daughter. For his own sake, not for mine.

Despite Jeffrey’s insistence that I’ve made us late we still arrive first. I take a seat, planting my feet lazily on the table, ignoring Jeffrey’s arch look.
“What if she doesn’t want to see you?” I ask, curious. This girl, this Rebecca, doesn’t even know her father is alive. I know I’d be pretty pissed if I discovered my dad had been alive all this time and not come to find me.
“Then I will have to accept that.”
So stoic, so steadfast, so Jeffrey. I let it go. “When do you leave?”
“Right after the meeting.”
I nod, keeping my disappointment to myself. “What do you want me to do while you’re gone?”
“The Legion needs guidance,” he replies, meeting my gaze. “They’re young. Harrison doesn’t understand that. They look up to you Reed.” It is not a compliment, the heavy tone of his voice taking me to task.
“So what do you want me to do, Jeffrey?” I snap.
“I want you to be a man they can look up to.”

I’ve always known that my womanising annoys him, but I never realised that he takes it as a personal failure. I have known Jeffrey for twenty four years, and I have never seen him with a woman. The simple gold band on his left hand is a poignant reminder of the vows he took, vows that he has upheld all these years, despite the distance between him and his wife. It’s nature versus nurture. The truth is, I am my father’s child. My biological father’s child. Even through the veils of time, I remember.

Mama made eggs the morning the bombs went off. I was four years old and it would be over two years before I would taste eggs once more, but I would never see my mother again. She kissed me goodbye, her lips smiling, but her eyes didn’t match her mouth. My eyes slid to the roses discarded on the sink. Daddy should’ve known better than to bring them home last night. Mom doesn’t like flowers, even I know that. I heard her yelling at dad that she hates Violet, just before she called him a two-timing shit.
“What’s a shit?” I asked as I ate my eggs – yellow fluffy clouds piled high on hot buttered toast.
Mama’s hand flew to her mouth and her cheeks went as red as the tomato on dad’s plate. “Where… where did you hear that word, Reed?” she asked.
“You said it, mama. I heard you last night.”
Mama’s eyes glassed over and she fanned her hand before her face. It was hot, so maybe she was trying to cool down. “I shouldn’t have said that, sweetheart,” she cleared her throat. “You mustn’t say it. It’s only for grown ups.”
I nodded, not wanting to upset her, but in my head I said it seven times, each in a different way, wondering when I would get the opportunity to show off my impressive new vocabulary.

“You ready, champ?” Dad called from the door, his uniform slightly more wrinkled than I was used to. He reached for mama, but she stuffed a bottle of red liquid and a spray bottle into his hands.
“Make sure he takes both at ten, and again at two,” she muttered. The red medicine tasted like cherry, and I hated cherry, but I was too excited to complain. Dad never took me to work with him.
“We’ll talk about this later,” Dad told mom, as I rushed outside.
“I’m tired of talking, Richard,” Mama replied. She was telling the truth – even her voice was tired.

Orange is the New White….

Orange is the New White….

A week or two ago I had the pleasure of taking part in Westville Girls’ High School “Tech Week.” I was allocated two time slots, my purpose being to speak to the girls about my journey, and the use of technology in The Legacy Trilogy (the Gifting procedures, etc). Which was all fair and well, and something I was looking forward to.

Seeing as I would be making a trip “out of town” (Westville is a good 20kms from Hillcrest 😉 ) I figured I might as well make a day of it and stop by the Pavilion to get my daughter a birthday present (I’m incredibly thoughtful like that). I spent an hour painstakingly applying my make-up so that I wouldn’t be intimidated by the fresh-faced beauty of the teenage posse I was about to face, packed my passport and some food for the road, and off I went.

All was going well, and I was (very-nearly-almost) bang on schedule. Anyone who knows me will attest to the fact that I don’t believe in spoiling my children, so I only had about seventeen shopping bags and an electric scooter under my arms as I weaved frantically through the crowds in a mad dash to get to the talk on time. (As one does when one is in a hurry, I may also have stopped to grab a Cinnabon)

At that point my cell phone rang. Of course, I had to answer it, proceeding to almost knock myself out with a bag of “Top Model” books as I did so, and then began an exciting conversation that I honestly cannot remember. At all. Because here’s where the whole experience becomes somewhat of a blur….

Firstly, I want to make it very clear that I am impossible to con. I don’t fall for tricks, plots, scams, ploys, sales pitches, telemarketers, pyramid schemes, dulcet tones, hypnotism, mentalists, one-legged men, children pretending to be orphans, dogs with no collars, or Christmas carollers. I’m a cynic, plain and simple. You cannot take me on – you are going to lose. I will eat you alive and spit out the pieces. I’m cold as ice, snappy, scathing and insanely perceptive.

Which is why I can honest to God say I HAVE NO IDEA how I ended up in that chair….

One minute I was nattering away, striding through the mall with single-minded purpose, and the next, someone steps in front of me, holding out a piece of paper. So intent was I on my conversation that I did the unthinkable. I HESITATED. I’ve  heard that your life can change in the blink of an eye, but I never really believed it ’til now. Turns out it’s true. A split second was all it took.

I found myself seated on a high stool in a miniscule shop, my packets unceremoniously dumped on the floor beside me while as Asian man bewailed the fact that my skin looked tired, dull and in desperate need of some “pop” – all spoken in what I assume he thought was a convincing French accent, while the waft of curry breezing in from the back room made my eyes water.

“What foun-day-shion do you use?” he demanded next, to which I proudly and unflinchingly  announced: “Kanebo.” I swear his immaculately tweezed brows disappeared into his hairline and he gave a sort of cough-sneeze-fart that indicated he did not approve.

Before I could even open my mouth to protest, said “Frenchman” produced a wet wipe out of thin air, and any cries of “stop!” were smothered as he pressed it against my mouth like some “Christian Grey” wannabe and simpered, “Trust me,” in a low voice. (he may have dropped the French accent at this stage, but quickly resumed it when he announced me “zee most beautiful woman”).  I was so stunned, I shut my mouth. Three brisk wipes later, my mornings efforts had been eradicated, and I sat with a naked, blotchy face. Plus, I was late.

“Now, you see, zee problem wiz ozzer products is zat zey cannot match perfectly to your skin tone, no?” the Frenchman tutted, without giving me the chance to disagree, “but here, I can mix up a variety of colour to ensure zat zee end result is identical to your own colouring. Zee key is zat zere is no visible transition from cheek to neck…” At this, his finger trailed seductively from jaw to collar bone. I glanced discreetly at my watch.

“Now!” he clapped his hands together in obvious delight. “I work my magic!”

With a sprinkling of powder, a swish of a brush, and a great to-do, he started to work afore-mentioned magic, and I believed, for an instant, that I might just be in the hands of a master artist. Sweeping motions, followed by “Look zis way, non, non…zat way” and I obeyed every instruction, too terrified to do anything else.

“I’m really late,” I murmured eventually, my voice breaking as I dared interrupt the master.

“It is not worry, I am done!” he announced, dropping everything and lowering his head as if this small action had sapped everything from his creative spirit. The Frenchman was spent. I almost felt like we had performed some bizarre tribal marital ritual. There was a dramatic pause, and I held my breath. And then….

“Voila!” he spun my chair around so fast I almost lost my balance. As I rotated at warp speed I caught sight of my handbag and all my parcels on the floor and reality reasserted itself. This is SA, after all… what if I had been scammed and this was all an elaborate ruse, set up to rob me of my purchases!?

And then, I caught sight of my reflection in the mirror, and everything else faded away. I gazed upon my visage, unable to speak for approximately 3.7 seconds. The Frenchman watched on, awaiting the praise that would no doubt spill from my lips when I finally caught my breath.

“I’m orange!” I roared, getting to my feet in a rage. “I have a talk in ten minutes and I’m freaking* orange!”

“Orange?” he replied dumbfounded, gazing at me as if he couldn’t see it. As if I didn’t look like a pumpkin has taken a dump on my head. “Non, non… zis is not orange…”

“Give me my stuff!” I roared, loud enough to catch the attention of a dazed-looking woman who was entering the store with another salesman. Blinking, she seemed to realise where she was, and she backed up faster than Fat Amy at an aerobics contest.

“Run!” I mouthed at her, scooping up my parcels and shooting the surrounding salespeople a dangerous look. Everyone took a step back, raising their arms and showing me their empty hands. My Frenchman, however, was not letting me go without a fight.

“Do you want me to pack up zee products for you?” he asked gaily, to which I seriously considered throwing the scooter at his head…………

Needless to say, there was no time for damage control. I owned that tangerine face. On the bright side, my teeth looked whiter, and my eyes a little more blue than green. At least that’s what I told myself.

Happy Friday everyone, have an awesome weekend!



* I totally didn’t say freaking. I said something much, much worse… 😉



My month of NaNoWriMo

My month of NaNoWriMo

As you all know, I participated in the NaNoWriMo 2014 challenge in November. As you probably also know, I was barely active on social media throughout the month…I honestly couldn’t find the energy to brush my hair, let alone come up with sharp and witty repertoire to post!

Shew!!!!! NaNoWriMo took it out of me. I haven’t been that tired in a very long time. Now that I have had a full day to recover, here is the low down:

For those of you who don’t know what I have been talking about, November is NAtional NOvel WRIting MOnth (NaNoWriMo, see?) The basic premise is that it challenges authors to write a 50,000 word draft novel in ONE month. To put it into perspective, here are the rough word counts on my previous books (note: it takes me approx. 6 months to complete a manuscript)

The Legacy: 97500

The Legion: 105000

Rainfall: 92500

The Traveler: 89500

The Legend: 97000 (Two months ’til release day!!!!)

So, 50000 words in a month is basically TRIPLE the word count I usually manage – and I am fairly quick to begin with.

Anyway, never one to back down from a challenge, I signed up with great aplomb. I admit, I “adapted” NaNoWriMo to suit my own purpose. Instead of a new 50000 word draft, I wanted to add 50000 words to the manuscript I was currently working on. I had just completed the first book in my new series: The Guardians of Summerfeld, and I was in a bit of a funk. I had written two full-length novels that hadn’t been released yet, and my morale was low. Writing a book takes a huge amount of energy and commitment. When I finish a book, I feel physically and emotionally drained. What lifts me out of this is the launching of the book…it’s a natural high – the excitement, the feedback. It motivates me to start again and recharges the batteries, so to speak.

I completed The Legend draft manuscript earlier this year, and of course we now wait for the big launch in February. I had also completed the first book in the Summerfeld series. I know many of you are waiting for it, and I am truly sorry that I have held it back, but I did not want to have a long wait between books, so I am hoping to complete the series, or get as close to completion as I can, and then stage back-to-back releases. But I digress…

The point is that two books down with no “release high” had me down in the writing dumps. NaNoWriMo seemed the perfect platform to stretch myself, and rekindle my writing mojo.

When the 31st of October rolled around, I had written 7501 words of book 2. And then I did the UNTHINKABLE!  I WENT on HOLIDAY for the first two days of November. This may not sound so bad, but daily word count is like compound interest (to quote a very dear writer friend). Breaking it down, you need to write 1667 words per day (including Saturdays and Sundays) to complete the 50,000 word target. The problem is, if you miss two days, that’s 3334 words you have fallen behind. And so it adds up….

Not too perturbed, I arrived back on the 2nd, after an amazing getaway with one of my dearest friends, and my 3 young people, and I was raring to go. Like my never-ending stream of diets, the first 3 days were a piece of cake (pardon the pun). And then I ran out of steam. What followed was literal rollercoaster of ups and downs, high and lows, fist pumps and F-bombs.

It was H.A.R.D. Harder than I thought it was going to be. My average bedtime for the month of November was between 12 & 2am. I was tired, desperate, and bleeding from my eyeballs (well, not literally, but they constantly had that scratchy raw feeling.) My husband told me not to sweat it…I’d already written 6 books, I would finish this one when I finished it, what was the point of putting myself under so much pressure. But I didn’t quit… And I am so glad that I didn’t. Instead, I cried on the inside, like a winner, and….


I did it. In fact, I blew it out of the water with a total of 52076 words in 30 days. To put that into perspective again, if I maintained that pace, I would release a book every two months. Which is never going to happen….


What I learned…

Here is what NaNoWriMo taught me. This challenge, to me, is not about craft…it’s about discipline. You cannot hone your talent, or become a better writer, not when you are writing at that pace, but it does teach you to write everyday…to treat your writing as you would a normal day job. It also forces you to write through the walls. When writing a book, you hit walls, where you just can’t find the words, and every sentence is agony. Often, this results in me taking a few days “off”. I stay away from my work in progress until inspiration hits. With NanoWriMo, you do not have that luxury. I learned that if you just write through it, you suddenly find your feet again, and you can write through that “block”.

I know I wrote a LOT of crap in November. I know that I am going to have to do a whole lot of editing and will probably change quite a bit of what I wrote. But there were also moments of BRILLIANCE. My plot developed considerably, and the story took twists and turns I never expected. I wrote more sh*t this past month than I ever have before, but I also think that I wrote some of the best scenes of my life. And for that alone, I am delighted I participated, and YES, I WILL DO IT AGAIN.

Thanks to NaNoWriMo, the Guardians of Summerfeld Book 2 is 2/3rds down, and I am secretly harbouring hope that I might finish this book by the end of this year. Which means that we are that much closer to my next release. I won’t put a date to it yet, but rest assured, it will be sooner than you think.

Thank you to every single one of you who support me, who read my books, review them, recommend them, and most of all, who have faith in me. I cannot express my gratitude enough!

Much Love




Writing in different genres…

Writing in different genres…

Originally posted on :http://www.theblessedbarrenness.co.za/?p=9675 – 31.07.2014

I find that many people are surprised when they read The Legacy Trilogy after reading Rainfall, given that the two genres are so different. As a writer, there is always the concern when shifting the proverbial “genre-gear” that your latest offering may fall short of what your readers have come to expect.

As authors, we have to live up to a lot of expectation from our readers, and we love to rise to the challenge. The only point of contention that I have with expectation is what I like to call “genre-specifics” – a trend where readers seem to prefer books written by a single author to be in the same genre. Of course, it is also often the case that readers simply have their own preferred genre and if a book does not fit this criterion, they are not going to be predisposed to reading it.

The Legacy Trilogy is a dystopian action adventure series, whereas Rainfall is a contemporary romance with a psychological twist. The Traveler, on the other hand, is a paranormal romance. Although the genres are very different, there are certain elements that are consistent throughout: romance, intrigue and a story that moves fairly quickly. My writing style is mine alone – as is any author’s. Take J.K. Rowling, for example. It didn’t take long for people to recognise her flair and call her bluff on the Robert Galbraith pseudonym.

Even broad-based fiction readers, who read across a broad spectrum of genres, are often hesitant to purchase books by an author they love if the new release is not the genre they have come to expect from that author. Take ‘The Casual Vacancy’ released in 2012, which was J.K. Rowling’s first release since the ‘Harry Potter’ series and her first novel aimed at an adult readership. Rowling took a lot of criticism from people who were expecting another ‘Harry Potter’. In 2013, Rowling’s latest offering, ‘The Cuckoo’s Calling’ was released under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. After being discovered, Rowling stated: “Being Robert Galbraith has been such a liberating experience… It has been wonderful to publish without hype and expectation and pure pleasure to get feedback under a different name.”

Romance novelist Nora Roberts has also found a solution that works well for her: she writes under the pseudonym J.D. Robb for the “In Death” series, allowing her to distance this project from her traditional romance books.

Writer’s write, it’s what we do and any writer worth their salt can write anything. Journalists are proof of this – a journalist writes about a diverse array of subjects, but their creative talent shines through in each piece – if they are any good at it.

Novelists are not so fortunate – writing full-length novels is time-consuming and a massive investment. We need to make sure that we have a readership, and that we retain that readership, but every so often we like to challenge ourselves. I think that “genre-shifting” is much like taking your inner writer and giving him/her a good shake – dusting off the cobwebs and the literary stagnation – and energising your creative mind.

I have been very fortunate in that my books have been well-received, regardless of where the genre falls. Then again, I am not quite as “high-profile” as J.K. Rowling, and thus not yet so harshly judged.

At the end of the day, I love what I do. And it is a story that inspires me – not the genre it may fall into. I write the stories that are, to my mind, exceptional, and let them fall where they may, genre be damned. And as long as there is a single reader out there who is anxiously awaiting another book from me, I will continue to do my utmost to impress them.


The Strange New Phenomenon of The Book Blog Tour

The Strange New Phenomenon of The Book Blog Tour

Originally published on: All About Writing: http://allaboutwritingcourses.com/2014/07/25/from-indie-to-published-everything-in-between-the-strange-new-phenomenon-the-book-blog-tour/

The Legacy Blog Tour started this week. This two month long, whirlwind tour was put together by my publisher and required extensive planning and administration. This new phenomenon of the virtual book tour is proving a very effective promotional tool in creating book awareness and boosting book sales, particularly in the eBook market, so long as the execution lives up to the concept.

Nobody can dispute the power of social media. The digital age is well and truly upon us, and anyone who digs their heels in and clings to the old ways will be left “holding the bag”. But where to start? Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr…the list is endless and can be very daunting, particularly for those of us who are not exactly “techno-savvy”.

In the publishing world, physical book tours are expensive, time-consuming and sadly, too often just not worth it. This is tragic, because as an author, there is nothing better than being able to interact with your readers.  Virtual book tours enable you to do this, without the disadvantages presented by their “physical” counterparts.

Virtual book tours are a valuable promotional tool for authors to connect with readers via well-read book blogs and speciality blogs. In my opinion – Bloggers are the new “Oprah”. In the same way that a new mum would subscribe to a “baby” blog site to gain helpful tips and enter online competitions, so do readers flock to these book blogs, to get book recommendations and interact with their favourite authors. Book bloggers bridge the gap between reader and writer, and can single-handedly bump a book’s sales rank by thousands of places.

A book tour is even more successful, and involves a number of blog stops over a period of time. Tour stops may consist of an author Q&A, a character interview, book review, author guest blog – the possibilities are endless. Almost all of the work is done in advance, when the tour schedule is being put together. The author will prepare material ahead of time and then “show up” on the allocated day, to interact with any visitors and respond to any comments.

A virtual book tour is not restricted by time or place, and an international, world-wide tour can be co-ordinated from your PC. Even if it involves the author waking up at 2 am to attend a tour stop, as a result of different time zones.

Book bloggers expect no financial compensation for hosting you on their site, although they prefer to promote work that they have reviewed and would recommend, in order that they do not lose credibility. Due to the rise in popularity of book blog tours, many of these hosts are inundated with requests. They do it simply because they love to read, and the one perk of being a tour host is that they receive advanced reading copies, enabling them to indulge in their favourite pastime at no cost.

Setting up a tour is no easy feat. It is a logistical nightmare and requires a lot of planning. Most of the work is done in advance. Here are 6 “easy” steps to setting up a successful tour:

  1. Decide on tour dates. Tours can be anything from 1 week to 3 months. Give yourself enough time to secure tour hosts and prepare information – you don’t want to have empty slots in your tour schedule.
  2. Secure tour hosts: Contact bloggers and ask if they would be prepared to host a spot on your tour. Be sure to research their blog sites and take note of the genre they prefer. A reader of romance is not likely to enjoy your “horror” novel. Always follow their submission guidelines and always be polite.
  3. Set up a tour schedule: Once you have bloggers on board, you can prepare your tour schedule. Think of this as an itinerary, showing where you will be on what date, and what sort of post is scheduled.
  4. Attend to all pre-tour material: Bloggers will advise you what they would like to feature, whether it is a book trailer, author interview, character interview, book excerpt, etc. They will send you their questionnaires and requests for material. Attend to each and confirm they have received everything.
  5. Promote your tour: Promote your tour through your own social media channels, and invite guests to follow the tour as it progresses.
  6. Show up and interact: Make sure you visit your scheduled hosts during the duration of your tour, to interact with any readers and thank your host. Remember, you may want to make use their services again in the future.

For more information on virtual book tours, and to watch how the process unfolds, feel free to follow The Legacy Blog Tour. You can find the schedule on the website. The tour runs from the 21st July until the 19th September, with over 76 stops along the way.

Narrative style – Finding Your Voice

Narrative style – Finding Your Voice

Originally published on http://highway-ya.blogspot.com/
There are many obstacles to overcome when writing your first book, few of which you actually realise until you put pen to paper, or fingers to keys, as we do now. As authors, we stumble, we fall, we brush ourselves off and we get back up again, because as any writer will know, we cannot silence the voice inside. Our stories need to be written.
When I first embarked on my writing journey I gave a lot of thought to plot and character description, to the book title and pivotal scenes that would unfold as my book progressed. Dialogue and time frame, chapter length and word count, all of these things were well-thought out and seriously deliberated. This took me at least forty minutes. Then I sat down and started typing. Strangely enough, not once did I consider which narrative mode I should use. It never even occurred to me, and yet the story unravelled in the first person. This style came naturally to me, and rather than work against it, I used it to my advantage.
The main benefit in using this style of writing is that the reader feels an emotional attachment to the narrator, which in my case, is the protagonist. The internal thoughts, emotions and perceptions of the protagonist are able to be conveyed to the reader and this makes for fantastic character development.
I have often wondered if I am perhaps doing my secondary characters a dis-service in writing from the first-person point of view, as one of the drawbacks of this particular writing style is that it does not always allow the reader to connect with the other characters’ thoughts and feelings. It can also limit plot, as we become aware of events primarily through the narrator’s eyes. Loosely put, if it doesn’t happen to, or around your protagonist, it doesn’t happen. The third-person narrative is far more flexible and consequently, the most frequently used model.
There are ways to get around these pitfalls of first-person narration. The narrator may refer to information they have heard from other characters in order to deliver a broader point of view. Memories of the past are also useful in providing insight that is reliable. I make use of secondary-character dialogue to ensure that the reader is always informed as to what is going on “behind the scenes” so to speak.  A popular trend at the moment is the alternating point of view, whereby there is more than one narrator. Personally, I find that this style can become confusing and the character transitions need to be handled carefully so that the reader doesn’t become frustrated.
For me, I prefer to stick with what comes naturally. I like to invoke a connection between reader and protagonist, which I feel is best done when the reader can understand and identify with the main character and “live” that character during the course of reading the book. It is more emotive and if done properly, the first-person narrative can present a powerful “voice”.
Like any true writer, I like to challenge myself, and one of my personal writing goals is to try and complete a novel in a different narrative mode – which would obviously be the third-person narrative, given that the second should really be reserved only for song writing and “Choose your own Adventure Stories”.
Finding your voice is an exciting step in your writing journey, but I don’t think it is a conscious choice. It will come as easily as breathing, and if you listen to it rather than fight it, the end result will be all the better for it.