Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Publishing vs. Self-Publishing

So I wrote an article for All About Writing and Wesley Thompson (Digital Publisher at Pan Macmillan South Africa) has graciously placed it on his blog...

Check it out...

Imagine standing before Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, Jennifer Lopez, Gareth Cliff and Randal; your very own Idols panel. Except you aren’t about to start belting Mariah Carey’s ‘All I want for Christmas’ in impossibly high heels and re-dyed hair; you are holding your manuscript before them. The square, sharp-edged, paper-cut inflicting baby that took you approximately 475 hours (for fiction) and 745 hours (for non-fiction) to create. The one you neglected family birthdays, lunches, dentist appointments and even forgot to feed the dog for. You stand there as the panel of judges berate and dramatically tear your manuscript to pieces in front of you.


This is an experience every writer can tell you about. The nervous wait for feedback; the undeniable disappointment of the rejection. So you turn to Self-Publishing. Your story is saved, and your book is REAL!

So you begin every effort to market, sell and publicise your newly made gem in the world of books; you start a blog, begin a book club on Goodreads and tweet up a storm to your adoring fans. All the while fire-breathing, green-faced demon publishers become the punch line of all your jokes.

Perhaps I’m not coming across as sincere, but I am. Self-published authors work their butts off doing solely what an entire company does in a year; and they do it in mere months. From editing, proofreading, indexing, publishing, typesetting, cover design, permissions, printing, marketing, publicity, online marketing, financial costings, to pricing and logistics (I wiped my brow just typing that!) – imagine doing all of these things by yourself every day!

I respect self-published authors. Those who, in the face of rejection and defeat, manage to get up and point a proverbial finger at the publishing industry and laugh as they sell books by the thousands.

See the FULL article here

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

About the Book

The circus arrives without warning. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.
The towering tents are striped in white and black, no golds and crimsons to be seen. A black sign painted in white letters hangs upon the gates.

"Opens at Nightfall. Closes at Dawn." 



"This is not magic. This is the way the world is, only very few people take the time to stop and note it." 

Occasionally – very seldom, in fact – a book comes along that takes hold of you and doesn’t let go. It sweeps you up in its storyline and you become linked with the characters, the places, everything, long after you have finished with it. Ladies and gentlemen, buy yourselves a copy of The Night Circus because this is exactly what will happen to you. As a person who works in a book store, it is an utter pleasure to recommend a book such as this – a book that ignites the imagination and captures you in its mystical grip.

This wonderfully enchanting novel tells the story of two rival magicians, who pit their young protégés against each other in an anonymous duel. Celia and Marco do not know that they are locked in an enigmatic and rather dangerous battle, playing out in the artificially constructed Le Cirque de Réves – The Circus of Dreams. This battle takes place over years, the young contestants trying to best each other by creating illusions and constructing marvels – which Morgenstern describes in intricately beautiful detail – such as the cloud maze or ice garden. As they try to figure out the rules of this “game”, the other members of the circus become unwittingly embroiled in the unfolding drama.

Each new page is a delight as we discover this enticing circus along with our colourful cast. A circus which opens only at night, endearing twins born on the eve of the opening, a lady adept at reading the tarot, a gentleman who builds the perfect clock, a fire which is never put out, a host of réveurs who wear red scarves... on and on it goes.

Erin Morgenstern’s debut is a superbly crafted story which will have you desperately wanting more even as you wish to see the end. Adventure, magic, love, philosophy, and intriguing characters fill the pages. But more than anything else, the imagery dominates the scenes, drawing you in and indulging your senses with real illusions, heightening the experience of a tremendous piece of writing. As one of the characters says:

“Someone needs to tell those tales. There’s magic in that... for each and every ear it will be different, and it will affect them in ways they can never predict.”

This is undoubtedly my favourite book of the year (and right up there with my best ever). I implore you to get yourself a copy not because you will be missing out on an outstandingly brilliant book, but because if you don’t you will be missing out on a uniquely compelling encounter.

- Review by Bradley Lutz

About the Author

Erin Morgenstern is a writer and artist. Most of her writings and paintings are fairy tales, in one way or another. She lives in Massachusetts.

Keep Reading!

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown

About the Book

There will only be one or two books that really impact you in ways that shock and surprise you into submission; the book will take you places you never even knew you wanted to go, it will slip you a cookie and a glass of milk in the form of words and leave you sighing softly and the flawless storyline will walk you to your door after a date and pay for dinner.
Their father, a renowned, eccentric professor of Shakespearean studies, named them after three of the Bard's most famous characters: Rose (Rosalind - As You Like It), Bean (Bianca - The Taming of the Shrew), and Cordy (Cordelia - King Lear), but they have inherited those characters' failures along with their strengths.

Now the sisters have returned home to the small college town where they grew up - partly because their mother is ill, but mostly because their lives are falling apart and they don't know where to go next.

Rose, a staid mathematics professor, has the chance to break away from her quiet life and join her devoted fiance in England, if she could only summon up the courage to do more than she's thought she could. Bean left home as soon as she could, running to the glamour of New York City, only to come back ashamed of the person she has become. And Cordy, who has been wandering the country for years, has been brought back to earth with a resounding thud, realizing it's finally time for her to grow up.

The sisters never thought they would find the answers to their problems in each other, but over the course of one long summer, they find that everything they’ve been running from – each other, their histories, and their small hometown – might offer more than they ever expected.

Published by Harper Collins 


Imagine being able to pull quotes from the greatest author of our time; Shakespeare. Well Eleanor Brown slips you into the very dream we, bookish babblers, only wish we could do only half of!

The three Andrea sisters have returned home to look after their ill mother. Their father, a renowned, eccentric professor of Shakespearean studies, named them after three of the Bard's most famous characters: Rose (Rosalind - As You Like It), Bean (Bianca - The Taming of the Shrew), and Cordy (Cordelia - King Lear).

Not only are they named like some of Shakespeare’s great women; they have also taken on their characteristics.  And now they are back in Barnwell to battle the demons of the past. With a family motto “There's no problem a library card can't solve” – how can this story disappoint? 

Rose, the eldest, is a mathematics lecturer  who cannot seem to let go of Barnwell and move to England with her fiancé. Bean, the elegant and beautiful middle sister, arrives back home from New York in a whirl of mystery and a secret that is starting to catch up?  What happened in New York that sent Bean running? And Cordy, the baby, is back from years of roaming the country – nomad style, with a secret that will shatter her life…

Have you ever sat back while reading a book and whispered: ‘I can only wish to write a book like this one day!’  There will only be one or two books that really impact you in ways that shock and surprise you into submission; the book will take you places you never even knew you wanted to go, it will slip you a cookie and a glass of milk in the form of words and leave you sighing softly and the flawless storyline will walk you to your door after a date and pay for dinner.

- Review by Kelly Ansara

About the Author

Eleanor Brown is the New York Times and national-bestselling author of The Weird Sisters, hailed by People magazine as “a delightful debut” and “creative and original” by Library Journal

Eleanor's writing has appeared in anthologies, journals, magazines, and newspapers. The Weird Sisters, her first novel, hit the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, and national Indie best seller lists, and is available now from Amy Einhorn Books in the US, and from multiple international publishers.

Born and raised in the Washington, D.C. area, Eleanor has lived in St. Paul, San Francisco, Philadelphia, South Florida, and Oxford, London, and Brighton, England.  She lives in Colorado with her partner, writer and transmedia superstar, J.C. Hutchins.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Wither by Lauren DeStefano

About the Book

By age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years left to live. She can thank modern science for this genetic time bomb. A botched effort to create a perfect race has left all males with a lifespan of 25 years, and females with a lifespan of 20 years. Geneticists are seeking a miracle antidote to restore the human race, desperate orphans crowd the population, crime and poverty have skyrocketed, and young girls are being kidnapped and sold as polygamous brides to bear more children.

When Rhine is kidnapped and sold as a bride, she vows to do all she can to escape. Her husband, Linden, is hopelessly in love with her, and Rhine can’t bring herself to hate him as much as she’d like to. He opens her to a magical world of wealth and illusion she never thought existed, and it almost makes it possible to ignore the clock ticking away her short life. But Rhine quickly learns that not everything in her new husband’s strange world is what it seems. Her father-in-law, an eccentric doctor bent on finding the antidote, is hoarding corpses in the basement. Her fellow sister wives are to be trusted one day and feared the next, and Rhine is desperate to communicate to her twin brother that she is safe and alive. Will Rhine be able to escape–before her time runs out?


It’s amazing what one finds trawling through twitter; bloggers, reviews and books that will make you gnaw your fingers off for a chance to read them.  That’s how I found this shining gem.  I would be lying if I told you that I didn’t beg, borrow, steal, dance naked for, and scream for a copy of Wither by Lauren DeStefano.  I called in all my favours in high (and low) places for a copy and opportunity to read and review it.

Oh the shiny day that the review copy landed in my lap, I ran around the house more than once (insert one or two skips) and a hulleva lot of screaming and booty shaking.

Wither would be the book to convert this Fiction Femme Fatal (Yes, that’s me – ok, ok stop laughing) to a Young Adult Reader bee...

DeStefano sets before the reader a life with no life (does that make sense?).  Rhine Ellery is 16 years old and is taken (more like kidnapped) as a bride.  A world where genetics is a ticking bomb – Males live till 25 and Females till 20 – geneticists are baying to find an antidote.  This isn’t the world you see outside your window, it’s a world where children are orphans and women are sold off as brides to try repopulate the world.  Rhine is one of those brides, to wealthy Linden – who is hopelessly in love with her, but Rhine refuses to be kept captive and is adamant to get back to her twin brother and let him know she is alive.  Linden may be the best kind of husband but it’s Master Vaughan that has a closet full of skeletons and a basement, filled with gut wrenching secrets.  It isn’t until Rhine meets Gabriel that she doesn’t believe her freedom is possible... but when Rhine and Gabriel get too close and Gabriel disappears, will Rhine be able to look to her fellow sister brides for help?

A tumultuous read, one that had me knotted up in my duvet, cold tea dangling from my hand.  This story didn’t let up for more than a page or even a paragraph.  DeStefano has a way of making the Young Adult genre literary.

I need you all to read this book!!!

Big thanks to the lovely ladies at Jonathan Ball for the review copy!

Review by Kelly Ansara

About the Author

Lauren DeStefano was born in New Haven, Connecticut and has never traveled far from the east coast. She received a BA in English from Albertus Magnus College, and has been writing since childhood. She made her authorial debut by writing on the back of children's menus at restaurants and filling up the notepads in her mom's purse. Her very first manuscript was written on a yellow legal pad with red pen, and it was about a haunted shed that ate small children.

Now that she is all grown up (for the most part), she writes fiction for young adults. Her failed career aspirations include: world's worst receptionist, coffee house barista, sympathetic tax collector, and English tutor. When she isn't writing, she's screaming obscenities at her Nintendo DS, freaking her cats out with the laser pen, or rescuing thrift store finds and reconstructing them into killer new outfits.

Have you read Wither?  Tell me about it?

Monday, November 7, 2011

This Way Up by Paige Nick

About the Book

Stella du Preez has the perfect life. Well almost. She is married to a great man. She has a great, supportive family. She lives in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Her friends are the best.

But … well, her job isn’t great. As the sex column agony aunt, Dr Dee, she has to deal with an almost unending slew of queries about the ickiest of things when all she really wants is to be taken seriously as a journalist.

Then, just when it seems like things can’t get worse on the work front, Stella’s dream job – of features writer – is given to the all-too-likeable Thandi. Upset and disappointed, Stella calls Max to tell him what has happened, but instead she tells a small untruth – a little white lie – that slowly but surely unravels her whole perfect world.


I first came across Paige Nick’s writing in her weekly column in the Sunday Times. A Million Miles from Normal is a truly South African column full of wit, humour, sarcasm and africanisms that only us South African’s get when we're laughing at ourselves. Naturally, I jumped at the chance to review This Way Up. 

This fabulous novel is about two very different women. The first is Stella a woman who seems to have everything except the perfect job. 
The second is Poppy a spunky pink-haired twenty-something hitchhiking across America looking for the next big thrill. 

These two narratives run simultaneously next to each other; hand in hand like two friends in the park. It takes a rather skilled writer to pull this off and Paige does it with flair that is salt-and-peppered with humour and awkward moments. 

About the Author

Paige Nick has been a copywriter in advertising for 16 years, where she has worked on brands like, Allan Gray, BMW, Nashua, Cosmopolitan and Levi’s Jeans. A Million Miles from Normal is 99% fictional, although many of the characters are an amalgamation of the people Paige has worked with and clients she has met over the years. A Million Miles from Normal is her first novel.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Carte Blanche by Jeffery Deaver

About the Book

"The face of war is changing. The other side doesn't play by the rules much anymore. There's thinking, in some circles, that we need to play by a different set of rules too..."

James Bond, in his early thirties and already a veteran of the Afghan War, has been recruited to a new organization. Conceived in the post-9/11 world, it operates independent of MI5, MI6 and the Ministry of Defense, its very existence deniable. Its aim: To protect the Realm, by any means necessary.

A Night Action alert calls James Bond away from dinner with a beautiful woman. Headquarters has decrypted an electronic whisper about an attack scheduled for later in the week: Casualties estimated in the thousands, British interests adversely affected.

And Agent 007 has been given carte blanche.

Jeffery Deaver's Carte Blanche has been released in the USA, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, France, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Russia, Israel, and Korea. It will also be available in Spain on June 26; and in Poland on June 29.  


Filling Ian Fleming’s boots was always going to be a tall order. At least, that’s if you think of Jeffery Deaver’s Carte Blanche in those terms, which doesn’t make sense anyway. Comparing Deaver to Fleming, and subsequently being disappointed by the lack of congruity with the old Bonds, would be, I imagine, a bit like asking a great actor to play a typecast but not bring any emotion or ingenuity to the role.

As I get sidetracked on this subject I realise that marketing a book as a ‘Bond’ – thereby leveraging the Bond brand – does have certain obligations. Bond fans have certain requirements and could well be disappointed at Deaver’s take on one of the most classic literary institutions of all time.

But Deaver’s novel needs to be given its own space to breathe. A king of thriller fiction, Deaver has packed Carte Blanche with a racy plot that weaves through several ‘exotic’ locations, including Cape Town and Dubai. The tempo is up-beat, and never falls flat. At the same time, enough attention is given to characters in the appropriate moments – slowing the novel down to the right pace to get to know what characters are thinking and feeling.

The attention to spy detail was not only apt but entertaining – from descriptions about different forms of intelligence gathering by MI6 to a few ‘Bond’ gadgets – an ‘iPhone’ with apps that allows agents to listen in on private conversations or communicate through encrypted emails with HQ – Deaver has included some mandatory Bond ‘tech’ without being too futuristic.

Deaver’s characters are believable, and that’s what I really liked the most about Carte Blanche: while Ian Fleming’s original plots centre on insanely grand designs, such as trying to rob Fort Knox(!), and while other similar novels revolve around worn tropes (thinking nuclear destruction, presidential secrets, etc.), Carte Blanche is decidedly realistic and well-researched. The arch villain has a nice realistic character smirk as an investor in waste recycling – but a creep who loves waste so much that he’s turned watching the process of decay into a near-religion.

Where this novel sorely lacks, though, is in the conspicuous absence of  that rugged old Bond charm and humour. Fleming’s Bond charms the daylights out of everyone. Always witty, always suave; not only knowing what to do in any given situation but also knowing how to do it with the most-possible smooth factor – and with a dollop of humble pie saving him from being too cool – Fleming’s Bond is the ultimate hero. Deaver’s Bond is more like the (less charming, less daring) more sensitive son of Fleming’s Bond.

While Carte Blanche is a great light, easy read (three-and-a-half out of five stars), Deaver’s Bond, it seems, would struggle to charm the daylights out of anyone.

- Review by Wesley Thompson
Follow Wesley’s Blog

About the Author

Jeffery Deaver is the author of two collections of short stories and 25 suspense novels. He is best known for his Lincoln Rhyme thrillers, which include the number one bestsellers The Vanished Man, The Twelfth Card and The Cold Moon, as well as The Bone Collector which was made into a feature film starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie. The first Kathryn Dance novel, The Sleeping Doll, was published in 2007 to enormous acclaim.
A three-time recipient of the Ellery Queen Reader's Award for Best Short Story of the year, he has been nominated for an Anthony Award and six Edgar Awards from the Mystery Writers of America. He won the WH Smith Thumping Good Read Award in 2001 and in 2004 won the Crime Writers' Association Steel Dagger for Best Thriller with Garden of Beasts, and their Short Story Dagger for The Weekender from Twisted.

Jeffery Deaver lives in North Carolina and California.

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