Saturday, 31 May 2014

Wanted - Serial Joiners, Dead or Alive.

I’m not really a serial ‘joiner’ to be honest. I tend to be the person that pulls a face at wedding invitations and ends up going out in the cold to the mall on a Saturday night, just to disprove the lie I told about being too busy to go to the birthday party. The lengths I’ve gone to in order to spend my life getting out of things, makes me wonder if sometimes, it would have been easier to show up for a few hours, drop off the obligatory present and then leave when decently acceptable.

So what changed when I started publishing my work? 

I decided to write a list of ten reasons why I joined all the myriad sites I seem to be a silent member of, in the hope of preventing someone else from going ever so slightly insane spending their life typing...without producing a single chapter of their novel. 

1.  Well, for starters, it’s a pretty isolating experience. You write by yourself, figuratively even if you can’t manage it literally. Yes the children were climbing the curtains, but you were happily ensconced in a fantasy world or stuck in a hotel with a pair of love birds. You saw what your offspring were doing, but only stopped typing when you heard the ripping sounds and were forced to grumpily tear yourself away from the keyboard. If you weren’t a loner before you started writing, you soon will be. I’ve agreed to all sorts of stupid, random things, just to get a bit of peace and quiet to finish a chapter or two. Writing makes you lousy company. You join sites, pages and groups to find kindred spirits.

2.  We are told as authors that social media is our friend. 

Who told us this? Well, people on social media of course. So we grab as many sites as we can, setting up pages for this and blogs for that. Then we fail to remember what we actually signed up to and definitely didn’t anticipate the hours of work that maintaining the monster would take. It eats at our writing time like a page eating dinosaur and ensures that the kids get beans on toast for their tea for the fourth night running. That’s ok. They haven’t bathed for a week so you don’t recognise them anyway.

3.  Our own sense of creative inferiority means that we have to obtain everything that other authors have. If they have an account with a book site and claim to have made a sale through it; we have to join. We forgot to put it in our favourites, cringed at the number of immediate messages asking us to join this or that forum on the site and two weeks later will try to join it again, bemused when the site tells us that it recognises our email address and would we please enter a password - which we now can’t remember.

4.  We want sales obviously, but what we also need is the lifeblood of authorship - reviews. Anything that promises ‘honest reviews’, we will join. We set off after them in the spirit of Indiana Jones searching for the Holy Grail and return battered and broken having acquired none - or none that we ever want to read again anyway.

5.  Like the silly children who skipped gaily after the Pied Piper, we follow other authors into hell and back, because we once struck up a conversation with them online and assumed that they knew what they were doing. We end up in forums where we and our work are horrifically tortured by ghouls who lurk in the shadows waiting for suckers like us to just show up, with our wide eyed innocence and pretty copies of our nice book to give away for free. What's your problem, you joined it, didn't you?

6.  Joining becomes as addictive as checking our sales on the KDP reports page. It’s like we actually believe that the more we check, the likelier it is that someone will have hopped on and made a purchase in the last two minutes while you were stirring the baked beans. If we are online and ever present, that same anonymous someone will see us, like us and buy something, especially if we put our best foot forward and smile, smile, smile. Hunt them down and join where they're joined.

7.  A hint of the dollar sign and we’re there, like flies around a cow pat, jockeying and jostling to be first to join, even though there is no such thing as a free lunch and any offer that is too good to be true, probably is a big fat con. We might have to part with a little something up front and we agonise and worry, but hand the money over anyway, justifying it to ourselves as we raid the biscuit tin where we were saving up for school shoes. It will be ok, our books will pay us back. Won’t they?

8.  Instead of giving ourselves a break and enjoying flexing our creative muscles, we put ourselves under pressure, berating our partners for the lovely meal they took us out for to soothe our frazzled nerves - because we weren’t online for a whole two hours (if you don’t count taking your phone to the toilet for a quick peek at Facebook.) It’s not just that we haven’t joined anything in two days, we’ve actually run out of things to join. We’re everywhere, like a bad smell, waving our book and shrieking, ‘Buy this, buy mine...please...anybody?’

9.  We suddenly discover that we are ‘all joined out’. The task is too massive for a single human being. We physically can’t do all the unrealistic tasks we have set ourselves. We can’t fulfil our obligations to post, tweet, blog, comment and message. There just aren’t enough hours in a day, even if we don’t change out of our pyjamas and get a shower. We join a different site and automate it, thinking that we’ve found the solution. But then we have to monitor the autobots, who email us just as regularly as all the other sites we joined earlier, telling us who followed and unfollowed us and giving us something else to worry about.

10.  After a miserable bout of self-doubt, during which time, we realised that we hadn’t written a single chapter all week, we go back to the keyboard and try and undo the damage. We spend hours trying to remember what we joined so that we can un-join ourselves, tying our brains up in knots as we reset thirty different passwords in one sitting and try and sort out the mess. As we fall into bed feeling marginally satisfied, we just allow ourselves one little peek at our sales reports and hey, what the heck, we sold a book...on Thursday. Oh crap, I think to myself. I bet they saw it on that site with the funny logo. I should probably rejoin...

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Bring Back The Emotional Rollercoaster

I’ve read some incredible books recently. I’m currently reading Threads by Tom Tinney - it’s completely out of my genre and my comfort zone, but I’m hooked by his characterisation of many of those he’s drawn into his intrigue. No, I don’t usually ‘do’ aliens, or space for that matter, but I’m utterly hooked by the marshals in his novel. They are believable, totally plausible and I want to be there when they win through.

I’ve also read some shockers in my time. By that, I mean that I’ve got to the end of a novel having been sped through exciting fight scenes, scintillating dialogue and amazing mysteries that I couldn’t have thought up. I know who killed who and why, where they live and what they ate. I know what kind of music the main characters listen to, but possibly don’t actually recognise any of the bands that they slow danced or drove to. I know that they had some kind of health need because they took a pill which I cannot name, but then worse, far worse, I don’t know what they look like or what actually makes them tick on the inside.

We only have to look around us to find a smorgasbord of human emotion. It’s everywhere. Literally. It doesn’t matter where you work, there is bound to be someone loud, someone strangely quiet, someone with emotional problems, someone who drinks too much. Marriages break up every day. Add that to your own experience of grief and you have a veritable emotional soup. I’ve read some novels with awesome storylines, where the appointed heroine watches the love of her life walk away or draw their last breath and shrugs, picking up the strands of her life and trotting off in the other direction. What’s with that? Within two chapters, she’s snagged herself a more suitable replacement and on we go. In ‘About Hana’, I allowed eight years to have elapsed before my character could even consider the possibility of remarriage. Sometimes in life it does honestly happen sooner, but come on! Two chapters?

There is an insincerity which creeps into some novels. They begin well and I can’t work out whether there’s a lack of skill in the actual writing, or if some overzealous editor has gone through and removed all the character-related information in favour of fast paced action. The trouble is, it breeds an immaturity in the characterisation and as a reader, I find myself unable to anticipate how the lead character feels about something. They become almost automated. I’ve seen on a lot of blogs, the principle of ‘show not tell’ and that is an awesome piece of writing skill. I try but don’t always make it I must confess and there’s a heap of popular authors out there who don’t do any better than me at it. But at least I know that when their character or mine, struggles to cope with abuse, loss of a partner, an argument with a child or family member, they are undoubtedly in pain. I can see it, feel it and empathise with them in their hour of need. That’s what keeps me in a novel.

I watch a lot of action movies with my husband because that’s the genre he loves. But there’s been so many occasions when a sex scene has suddenly appeared slap (dare I say ‘bang’?) in the middle of a series of adrenaline fueled moments. I find myself thinking, ‘What the heck?’ when they strip off and get down to it. It’s almost as though the movie makers debated behind the scenes and one of them said knowledgeably, “Go on, put one in, we better had.” It has no bearing on the plot or the characterisation, it’s almost just paying lip service to the supposed audience for the sake of it. Because obviously we all expect that - not!

Yet some writers do that all the time. Picture the sequence, a car chase followed by a shooting, followed closely by a man hanging from a building by his fingernails, sex scene, woman wiping a tear away and on we go, car chase, stabbing, possible alien landing... And there I am, poking around on my Kindle trying desperately to work out who is who, what on earth they’re up to and how I’m meant to view this.

Relationship and character drawing has of late, been referred to mistakenly as ‘back story’ and yet the two things are very different. If your novel contains the finer points of atom separation and you feel the need to explain it in glorious, enthusiastic technicolour, then please warn me in the blurb and I just won’t buy it. I don’t have a scientific bone in my body and try as I might, I am not going to understand. I would consider that kind of description 'back story' or at the very least unnecessary technical yawn.

I wonder how we would feel in a soap opera that we love, if after the credits, the cameras rushed across our view with people going about their daily business, going to work, bathing their kids, making the tea, but never delved into the people’s actual lives. The wife is upset with the husband long working hours and thumps the tea down on the table. We glimpse the trail of a tear on her cheek. It’s not the meal she’s making that’s important, but the emotional stuff around it. Guys don’t generally like my books because there’s heaps of description and lots of ‘feelings’. That’s fine. I write for women anyway, but have begun to consider putting a warning on my novels, saying ‘NOT FOR MEN’.

In Du Rose Legacy, there’s a pregnancy, which means that at some point, a baby is going to have to come out. I wrote those scenes from experience. They were an emotional roller coaster of excitement, fear and relief, often all in the same minute, an uncontrolled lurching from one to the other, all borrowed from my own life. 

The New Du Rose Matriarch begins with a new mother failing to cope, running all kinds of stupid, unrealistic scenarios through her head, battered by exhaustion and feelings of guilt and failure. Readers have emailed me to tell me that they cried all the way through both of those scenes. They had been there and they understood. It touched something deep inside, something raw and painful but at the same time, reminded them that they had survived.
Perhaps I’m too emotional, too descriptive and verbose, a reader will always be the judge of that. I could have simply written, Hana wasn’t coping with her crying baby... and moved on to some more interesting plot moment, like when she finds a killer waiting for her by her car, or gets snatched. But if I did that, why on earth would the reader care? You care about Hana because you’ve grown to love her, with her red hair and her frustrating thought processes which make you want to kill her yourself, preferably after you’ve taken her out for coffee and tried to explain some salient facts to her.

Emotion isn’t back story, but it’s being confused with it. I’m tired of reading these two dimensional stories with lots of action and no substance. I never used to stop reading a novel, not for anything. I’ve struggled through some real doozies in my time. But lately, I’ve decided that I’m the wrong side of forty to be wasting valuable hours in a dead loss. So I am being more picky and less committed and I don’t think I’m alone. If an author isn’t willing to invest in their own character enough to let me, the reader, know how they feel about their circumstances or describe what they even look like, how can they expect me to battle on through to the end with them? It becomes a one-way partnership and I’m doing all the work.

My favourite novel of all time is MM Kaye's, ‘The Far Pavilions’ and has been for over twenty years. I’ve read it numerous times. It’s a massive piece of work and even in teeny-tiny print, you couldn’t fit the thing in your handbag. It’s easily bigger than a house brick. You could probably brain someone with it actually, only you wouldn’t be able to stop reading it long enough. It’s a colourful parade of the most in depth writing imaginable. The characters become like friends and you care about them enough to stay up late reading, in the hope that their circumstances will improve before you have to get up for work. It’s a detailed emotional roller coaster and I love every single page of it. Nowadays, I get the sense that it would be called ‘too wordy’, ‘not enough action’, ‘a bit too detailed’, ‘let’s cut the emotional stuff and throw the sister on the funeral pyre so that she can get on with committing suttee’. 

As authors, we’re competing in a world where nobody waits for anything. Every need can be fulfilled by a phone call, the push of a button or a sharply issued demand. Our heads are bursting with our own mess, so why on earth would we want to climb into someone else’s head and see how they cope with life?
The answer is: because we can.
I want to. Do you want to?

I want more than just to hang from the wing mirrors of a speeding car feeling disconcerted and afraid. I want to plumb depths that my own life either has, or will never take me into. Above all, I want to escape and I will ultimately do that by making friends and walking a mile in their shoes. 

So help me out here. What do your characters look like and what really makes them tick?

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Celiac Awareness Month - May 2014, New Zealand

My latest novel, Blaming the Child, features a sixteen year old girl who has been diagnosed with Celiac Disease. It is only part of the issue which drives her to run away from home, a minor fragment in a wider problem, but it is nevertheless a diagnosis which makes her life even harder than it needed to be.

Most people have heard about gluten intolerance, or the need to have a gluten free diet, but people who genuinely suffer from Celiac Disease have to make sure that normal flours, thickeners and even glucose syrups made from wheat, form little or no part of their daily diet. I say genuinely suffering, because as someone who can’t eat gluten, I have been at events where there has been a single plate of gluten free food provided at a veritable feast and by the time I’ve got to the table, it has all been eaten by curious diners who thought they would ‘give it a go’. My daughter is also a diagnosed Celiac and has had the same experience, watching people who are perfectly able to eat everything else in the room, homing in on the morsel provided for her and others like her, when there is a table full for them.

Then there is the other sort of gluten intolerance, which seems for some sufferers to come and go. They can’t stomach a normal loaf of bread and smile demurely while the host sweats tears over an alternative menu, but point them at a donut or some other delicacy and all threat of stomach pain is miraculously removed and they can suddenly eat normally. However some Celiacs can tolerate an amount of gluten per day, so it’s never going to be that cut and dried.

My Mothers' Day gift from my daughter purchased from The Girl on the Swing, Hamilton
The reality of any kind of food intolerance is an unavoidable quickening of the heart rate at the mention of dining out, wondering if there will be anything suitable for you to eat or if you will be stuck once again, eating hot chips and garlic aoli. The joy at occasionally finding something labelled as ‘gluten free’ is often overshadowed by fear: perhaps the chef got it wrong and has accidentally used wheat flour to thicken a sauce out of habit or maybe the hot chips were rolled in flour to make them crispy. You ask the waitress and after a look of confusion, she trots off into the kitchen to ask the question of someone you will never see. If she comes back and admits that the item you have picked isn’t actually gluten free, your last meal choice is removed from you and then there is the embarrassing ordeal of moving on elsewhere in search of the elusive lunch, or pretending that you weren’t hungry anyway and stifling the guttural growls as everyone else tucks into their delicious food. If she assures you that it is gluten free, you probably won’t fully trust her anyway and won’t relax enough to enjoy your meal.

I can’t emphasise what an issue food actually becomes for someone with an intolerance. Gluten makes me incredibly unwell in the stomach department but I have the double whammy of also being lactose intolerant. Consumption of any kind of milk product will have me rolling on the bathroom floor within twenty minutes, hot, sweating and severely sick. It’s amazing how often a simple error by a barista, who takes my order and then forgets that I actually asked for soy milk, has resulted in agony and a day off work while I recover from their careless disregard of a simple instruction. I’m not being picky - it’s not that I can’t tell it’s milk and not soy, I can tell just fine, but unfortunately the usual way to tell is to take a mouthful and that’s already too late. It also makes prescribed tablet taking into a nightmare. Most capsules, including antibiotics contain small amounts of lactose in the casing. There are alternatives but that involves standing in the pharmacy red faced yet again, while the pharmacist makes a lengthy phone call to the manufacturer.

I haven’t always had food intolerance and that is the sad fact. Nobody knows why it suddenly begins this way, perhaps a virus, maybe certain foods were a minor irritant and my body has decided to kick off over it now. Once upon a time I could eat out at a cafe or a restaurant without worrying and I certainly didn’t have to pick over the hot chips just in case they were beer battered and nobody thought to mention it on the menu. I am ashamed to admit that I was also horribly unsympathetic towards people who couldn’t eat absolutely anything they liked, choosing to view them as hypochondriacs, individuals who felt the need to be the centre of attention in social situations. Now that I am on the other side of the fence, peering fearfully at menus and ingredient lists on the back of every single packet I buy, the world appears to be a lot different.

My beautiful, gregarious daughter has stopped sleeping over at friends’ houses, finding the agony of dinner and breakfast too much to bear. We’ve tried everything. We’ve sent special food for her. We’ve sent food for everyone. There’s nothing left to try. Faced with everyone staring at her crumbly, cardboard-like bread or the pizza bases that could double as wheel trims, she is now electing not to go.

The Hillside Hotel, Huntly - awesome bespoke G/F menu
I’ve had only one incredible meal out in the last five years. Compared to the average diner, that’s pretty sad. Bizarrely it was made by an award winning Welsh chef, cooking at a hotel in the wilds of the North Island of New Zealand and I rang him and spoke to him the week before we went there. I had no idea what he was going to cook, just that there would be three courses. I sat like a princess while the waiter put beautiful food in front of me and I trusted him not to make me ill. He didn’t let me down.

In this country in particular, there seems to be little understanding of what food intolerance is like. It feels like something that nobody is really interested in and so they let it pass them by, happy to wrongly label food packets as gluten or dairy free when they aren’t, or to slap a milky coffee on the table when that’s actually the last thing that was asked for. People will lay into a gluten free cake at a party or a gathering, commenting that it’s ‘not that bad’ when it wasn’t for them at all and they actually had free rein of everything else in the room. What do we actually have to do to get noticed?
There are books out there to help

I know of children who have died of peanut allergies and that is just so tragic, but is that what has to happen here? I really hope not. A big mistake I made, was to listen to a doctor who casually told me to try cutting things out of my diet without running any tests. That is a monumental mistake. I cut out milk products and wheat and have never been able to tolerate going back onto them. Consequently, I can’t have the simple blood test for Celiac, because I now have no gluten in my system for tests to pick up any adverse reaction to. It is also highly possible that I cheerfully turned a low lactose or milk intolerance into a major one simply by cutting it out. There are awesome, scientific reasons for NOT taking massive dietary changes into your own hands before having the relevant intolerance tests.

On a recent visit to the hospital for yet more tests, the gastroenterologist commented on the increase in gluten intolerance, blaming the way that the flour is now stored to prevent it degrading. She said that the stuff they add to the basic ingredient is in itself, completely indigestible and that it was no wonder. It just goes to show that we should be more careful about what we put into our own and our children’s mouths. She recommended spelt flour as an alternative to wheat for people with an intolerance, but forbade me from trying it as I am already too far gone it seems.

It’s Celiac Awareness Month here in New Zealand and there have been helpful experts offering gems of wisdom for anyone interested enough to listen. I’m sure that the number of diagnoses have increased just from an ‘aha’ moment as someone suffering from unexplained stomach pains finally joined the dots for themselves. But will it be enough for everyone else to pay attention? The ideal would be for cafes to be more intentional about what they offer for people with intolerance. When someone asks to meet me for coffee, there are only so many places I dare go and I have been known to walk out of a place when I didn’t recognise the barista as someone who ‘knows’ they can’t make a mistake with my coffee.

It’s actually about far more than just ‘I can’t eat that’, it’s really about trust. The people that hand me food or drinks with a smile, have the power to make me really suffer and I’m yet to be convinced that they either know, or care.

Unashamed advertising for helpful places I have found:

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Murder Takes a Dare - The Second Marisa Adair Mystery by Jada Ryker

This is book 2 of the Murder Takes a Dare series, continuing the adventures of Marisa Adair, a feisty, likeable woman who is recovering from substance and sex addiction. I truly relished the first in this series, but absolutely loved this subsequent novel. The characters have been further developed and are seen with more of their weaknesses on show, the quirks and inadequacies remaining evident to the reader, who falls in love with them anyway. Marisa is a woman with many faces but there is a thread of vulnerability, which kept me going back for more, cheering her on and genuinely wishing her well. The novel is a clever dovetailing of two storylines, the ones with Marisa and her generation of forty-somethings who seem to attract trouble like a magnet - and that of Clay and Althea, who manage to get involved in crime fighting even from their old folk’s home setting. As in the first novel, the crimes are irrevocably linked, in addition to Marisa’s relationship with Althea, her kindly primary school teacher, who mothered her and kept her safe when the adults around the child Marisa failed to. There are secrets aplenty in this novel, spewing out of the proverbial closets in their droves, wreaking havoc and staining lives. There are some interesting character studies relating to prejudice, which added a serious note to something which is generally light hearted and at times, slightly crazy. Issues of sexuality are explored more in this novel than in the last and the consequences of addiction are far more telling. The novel ends on a cliffhanger which is a great draw for the next novel. I enjoyed it and positively devoured it.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

A Hero for Hire by CB Pratt - A Review

Eno the Thracian is a hero for hire in a world where legends are bred. He is the perfect male, handsome, dashing, brave and forthright with an entertaining hint of humour. This novel was an incredibly good read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I honestly couldn’t have predicted the ending at any point in the story. I loved how the ancients are mixed in with the presence of the mystical, ghosts, sphinxes and hags all decorate a novel with the power to hold the reader’s attention with ease. All this without forgetting the company of a camel named ‘Nightmare’.
The author clearly has a dry wit, which reaches out of the pages of the book and makes the reader smile, continually. I would genuinely recommend this book to anyone wanting a great read. This series would make an amazing movie serial.
C.B. Pratt
Author of the Eno the Thracian Series
C.B. Pratt has lived all over the United States, including California, New York and many stops in between. Having been a professional writer for over twenty years, she is ill-suited to any normal work and hopes to continue writing for the rest of her life. Independent publishing has allowed her to write the things she has always wanted to, including fantasy and steampunk. She is the author of numerous traditionally published books, as well as the Eno the Thracian fantasy-adventure series. RIVERS OF SAND will be released late summer, 2014.  


Sunday, 4 May 2014

You might not 'realiSe' that it's time to 'apologiSe'.

I’ve come across this issue a number of times now, so thought I would raise it. Although I currently live in New Zealand, I was raised in England and West Germany and did my English degree in Wales. Throughout my education, I was taught what was loosely termed ‘Queen’s English’ which involved much more use of the letter ‘s’ than ‘z’.
In the years before I began publishing, I would happily read everything that I could get my hands on. Yes, reading books by American authors was at first strange, the prolific use of ‘z’ was initially jarring to the eye - realize instead of realise, but it wasn’t difficult to put these anomalies to one side in favour of the general enjoyment of the novel. I love the colloquialisms which inherently creep into a story through the author’s hands because the writer is after all, a huge part of the evolution of the plot, characters and the very atmosphere which enfolds the reader. A quaint turn of phrase can indicate to an astute reader where the author hails from, how they feel personally about a particular issue and what kinds of experience prompted certain parts of the plot. Those are the very things that readers pick up on and head straight for when they meet you and often, your input as the author is what drives them to read more as they revel in your story and try to understand you.
The first time I came up against the dreaded ‘s’ versus ‘z’ war, was when I began doing paid reviews for an international review company. They complimented me on my first review for them, but alluded to the editing issues. Now everyone lets one drop occasionally. It doesn’t matter how many times I proofread my own work, something still slips through. So I asked for a list of what exactly was wrong and up it popped. I had used the word ‘apologise’ and it needed to be corrected to ‘apologize’. There were a few more ‘errors’ including ‘realise’, and it was quickly obvious that the relationship was not going to survive the distance between our understanding of grammar rules.
To their credit, the company actually emailed me back, acknowledged that they were an international company accepting novels from all over the globe and having an English woman on the team was probably a good thing. I still write for them and they humour me. Or do they humor me?
The next time it happened was when I wrote a blog for someone. They thought it was great, again, but for the editing. They altered it for me and I was surprised at the sense of mortification I experienced. The English language originates from my homeland of England. I don’t have a problem with the fact that it has evolved and changed in its lifetime, or that other nations have borrowed it and changed it. But I began to feel like my beautiful, archaic, expressive tongue was being cauterised and thrown out.

It raised its head again when I published Artefact, as it was originally titled. The wonderful author who gave her time to help me release it, debated back and forth with me about whether it was artefact or artifact. The book was set in England I argued, and we spell it artefact. But, she replied, you publish in the American market and we spell it artifact. I relented and changed it and haven’t regretted it. The novel sells really well in and readers seem to love it. In addition to that, she made me a gorgeous cover and gave me lots of fantastic help. Who could argue with that?

But as for changing the way I write, wouldn’t that be a bit like trying to fake a foreign accent, whilst not being particularly comfortable with it? It’s just not me so why would I do it? I like the way that Her Majesty speaks and I can guarantee that if I could grab a peek at her Christmas Day speech, she would have used realise and apologise and there wouldn’t be a ‘z’ in sight!
Being a UK English writer, without the added fact that I don’t reside in England, I am in a relative minority compared to the vast offerings from the US continent. But the English language itself isn’t quite as small fry as US editors and publishing companies would try and have me believe. I wish I knew the statistics of the ratio of realise to realize users, because then I could do a pretty graph and look intelligent on the subject. I know English writers raised in the huge continent of Africa, who spell words like me and to the best of my knowledge, definitely New Zealand and possibly Australian schools teach UK English. That's a fair hunk of land mass that agrees with moi.
To have a crack at my cultural heritage, which yes, my spelling of certain words is part of, is akin to me walking up to a Maori and telling them that their spelling of the word for family - whanau - is actually a bit rubbish. Not only would it be rude and disrespectful, it would undoubtedly upset them and I would be in big trouble.
So why shouldn’t I get defensive and upset, when beaten with the broad stick which shouts, ‘Let’s all be the same - my same, not yours?’ Just because I don’t spell something the same as you, doesn’t make me wrong, but if we want to play the ‘etched on the face of history game’, then I will win hands down. Realise has been around a damn sight longer than realize, I’ll have you know!
I guess the long and short of it is this: judge my work, judge my skill as an author and feel free to review my books. But at no point does that give anyone the right to disrespect the greatest representative of my cultural heritage - my language.
It’s mine. I love it. So back off!

Saturday, 3 May 2014

The Forest Bull by Terry Maggert - A Review

A Spellbinding Novel that I just couldn't put down.

I listened to an audio version of this novel and found it very hard to switch off. I felt as though I was dropped instantly into the action, scrambling to keep up with the strong male patriarch of the strange little family, as he went about his killing occupation. It was gripping and at times, so graphically explained that it felt real and made me fearful of actual monsters disguised as humans, who could potentially jump out at me. I was powerless to second guess the plot or the direction of the storyline, led like a lamb to the slaughter at every turn, forced to go around corners where surprises would jump out at me without warning. The descriptive elements are so strong that the reader is there, in the centre of the action, smelling the aromas, hearing the sounds and experiencing everything that the writer is conveying. It’s a masterpiece which utterly took me by surprise, not because I wasn’t expecting it, because a reader always hopes, but because it wouldn’t be out of place on a lofty shelf with Edgar Allan Poe. I felt desperate when I got to the end of the novel, because it isn’t completely resolved and I will have to buy the next one. If I could give it ten stars, I most certainly would!