Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Nwelezelanga reading experience

I am perplexed by this story. This is tragic. I cannot decipher anything from this story. Most of the time I was not sure what I was being told but I found that I understood some of it. I cannot say I know what this child came to do in the physical world as it is not clear to me what she came to fulfill. Was it to stop the killing of albino people? Was it to bring death to the Midwife who killed all infant albinos that were born under her surveillance and sacrificed those that we somehow able to escape death by the luck of the draw? At the end of this story I am left with many questions of what I could have gleaned from the story. Perhaps it is to understand the ways of those who believe in ukuthwasa... perhaps it is to tell me that I am fooling myself by thinking that I am not a god? I just wonder...

I think the story could have provided more meat to the bones... I feel like Nwelezelanga's suffering in the physical world due to her albinism was not depicted as horrid as I have heard it to be. She experienced the same kind of ostracizing that is experienced by children who are rejected by society because they are too ugly, too dark, perceived to have senyama, of some unfortunate child that some believer in medicine made from human parts preys on. She was mocked, I was mocked. She herded cattle, I herded cattle. She collected water from rivers and wells, I did the same. She collected firewood, I did the same. She hoed maize fields, I did that and more.

I was never invoked to sympathize with her even though her mother threw her away because to her it did not result in any suffering and she somehow expected it.

I give it 2 stars because it was written in simple easy to understand language. I think perhaps I am just not capable of appreciating this kind of story. Or maybe it is the Christian in me that rejects the notions in this story.

I hope the next book Unathi writes will not be so confusing to me because I wish to support him.

I have to add that  my mother read this book after me and she had a different experience to what I had. She was pleasantly surprised by the insight the writer had about the spiritual world and how he expressed it.

Go to https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/8205613-tumelo-moleleki" to read all my reviews and my journey as I was reading the book

My Two Selves and I reading experience

This book has a wonderful plot that questions the sheep-like following of rules that tribes on the African continent and even other continents have been happy to embrace for centuries. Following rules without questioning them shows a lack of intelligence and a mentality of robots. I am aware of a few customs or practices that many tribes today still practice without question, even when they realize that they are unjust or make no sense and some are even cruel. This book is an ideal recommendation for the young ones, to teach them to have independent thought and to question things instead of following rules, customs or advice like sheep.

In the end people are selfish and sometimes their advice has ulterior motives that are not for the good or benefit of the person that is being advised.

I believe the story twisted well and unfolded intelligently but the author seemed to confuse himself on some parts where he would switch characters in a way that suggested he made a mistake with the name and sometimes with the gender. The part where Tatenda is thinking about Rufaro choosing Sibu she is thought to be substituting Sibu with Chipo. Some places he refers to girls with male pronouns. I think after editing, they should have done some proofing and they would have picked up on these grammar errors. I learned this lesson the hard way myself because I trusted the expertise of the editors and I discovered some mistakes in my first published book.

I liked it because it carries such an important lesson about double standards and self-serving rule enforcers who don't like to follow the rules they enforce so strictly when the shoe is on the other foot, revealing their hypocrisy. It also shows that someone can use a custom to unleash the evening of a score for a wrong they believe themselves having suffered, in the case of Shumba.

Overall an entertaining story but one that does not pull you in emotionally. I was never at any point indignant or rooting for the twins because there was an undertone that all would workout well for them in the end. I never sensed that they were in real danger and I think the author failed to build the feeling of danger in me as a reader but I am sure the experience will be different with other readers.

Go to https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/8205613-tumelo-moleleki" to read all my reviews and my journey as I was reading the book

The Yearning reading experience

I loved reading this book. I took my time and thought about some of what I was reading so that I could process it. Everything was so believable and so many surprises along the way. I only dream of writing this well and telling such stories with so much bravery. I am proud of this author even though I do not know her and she does not know me.

For me it is hard to talk about what the book is about without spoiling it for those still to discover it but believe me when I say that the story between these pages is worth discovering. It has a way or augmenting understanding and tolerance for things we do not understand about others and things we revolt against.

I will be nagging everyone in my family to read this book.

Go to https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/8205613-tumelo-moleleki" to read all my reviews and my journey as I was reading the book

Happiness is a four letter word reading experience

I have read on other reviews where it is said that there was a blow-by-blow account of each character's thoughts and feelings at every moment and for the life of me I cannot find anywhere in the book where it rang true for my reading experience

The lessons in this book are huge but I find that I don't like that there are so many double standards in society. Tumi and Tshepo's situation as well as Zaza and Bheki's were the most irksome for me. On the one, the shoe is on the one foot while on the other it is reversed. The 'my situation is not the same as yours' righteous argument always rears its ugly head when confrontations ensue about bad choices made.

Another thins, I were Thomas how could I trust someone so flaky? She starts a situation and when the chickens come home to roost she feels entitled to attention and attentiveness and is okay to get it elsewhere when not getting it from me? What kind of warped thinking is this, and yet I have been exposed to aspects of this thought 'leadership' among those I have known in my life.

I did not like the fact that it rang so true to real life in that people who mess up seem to get off scot-free in a way. Personally I wanted more agony and heartache for the people who made bad choices but the writer did not let us in on the torture these characters experienced before all was forgiven. It seemed the victims suffered more than the perps and were still willing to let bygones be bygones way too easily. I guess some people have forgiveness in abundance.

Well done Cynthia on an engaging read.

Go to https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/8205613-tumelo-moleleki" to read all my reviews and my journey as I was reading the book

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Dear debutante author

I thought, after speaking to a former colleague and a friend about my experiences while publishing my first book, that I should write this piece and maybe you will find it helpful.

First, I wish to put things in context… I have been a reader for leisure from my early teens. I never even thought about becoming an author. Some books I would find tedious or annoying because of the way the author would focus on describing the scenery and after all that, there would be nothing about the narration that makes this loquacious elocution significant in the events that unfold after it. I would often say to myself that, if I became a writer, I would avoid this altogether or reduce it to the bare minimum.

My journey as a writer started long ago, but in those days I did not believe that I could actually write something that would be published. I would use my exercise books to write my stories and give them to my friend to read them. Sometimes I would start something, but then abandon it and end up losing it. It remains my biggest regret in this regard, that I have lost those treasures because I now know that it is possible to get published.

To break into the world of published authors in South Africa is a mammoth task. Largely due to the fact that we have a poor culture of reading, but also because unless you are famous no established publishing house wants to touch you. Sometimes, it seems even being of a particular skin tone and/or even gender makes you stink like soiled hosiery. Penguin Random House Publishing rejected 2 of my manuscripts without so much as a thought. They did not even take time to read them as they rejected them almost immediately. I encourage all of you to inundate them with submission and see what their response will be. We might just gather enough evidence to prove that they exercise prejudice when it comes to submissions coming from writers who do not already have acclaim as a result of fame.

But, be that as it may, you can still get your manuscript published. You just have to be prepared to reach deep into your pocket and make that initial investment in yourself. You have to be willing to invest in your own craft. Do not believe in the potential success of your writing skills only if you are expecting someone else to foot the bill, in other words, put your money where your mouth is...
So, what to expect when you go the self-publishing route?

Well, I shall tell you that which was in store for me when I embarked on this journey. With this blog, I hope to make the journey for you a little easier and a lot less disappointing than it was for me.
As a debutante author who is not dedicated full time to this craft, self-publishing can be risky. The risk can be minimized if you have the funds to purchase all services required to make your book a success, i.e. the publishing services and then marketing and promotion after the fact. If the marketing and promotion is sorely dependent on you, you may find it frustrating and discouraging. It can even be depressing if you have little or no sales skills.

Choose a local service provider, which will save you the cost of fluctuating currency. Understand the terms of the contract; make sure you know what services are included and those that are not. Get your manuscript in order and ensure that whatever story you are telling, unfolds events in a manner that can be followed chronologically. Having a manuscript that requires a great deal of editing can be a costly affair. Word has spell check and grammar check, use them. Research what other people out there are sharing, in terms of skills on how to write such that you produce a manuscript that requires little editing. If you can, get two independent people to review it so you can have feedback from two sources that will have no influence on one another. Presentation is very important but so are the first 3 chapters of your manuscript. If these do not get the reader wanting to read more, it will be difficult to get the book off the shelves, unless you are writing academic books. Know too the elements that make a good novel, i.e. narration, theme, plot (conflict, climax, denouement, and conclusion), character development and point of view. You can read more about these elements on this article

Most publishers will ask for a synopsis, character development and who your target market is. Think carefully about these as you write your book and ensure that your writing is geared towards your intended audience or market. Before submitting your manuscript for review, make sure that there are no gaps in your story-line and that the climax is there.  Reviewers want to see conflict in your story and a resolution that is consistent and aligned to the plot.

One of the ways you can test that your story is compelling or gripping is to have someone read it while you are writing it or when you are done and they can give you feedback on how they found it.

One of the things you will need to do is get a website. This will help you somewhat with the marketing effort and it will be place where you can create hype about your book and get the people in your circles to spread the word about it. You will also need to know something about events planning to organize that all-important book launch.

PS: Some feedback on the article is more than welcome, it is desperately craved!

Thanks for reading.