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Author Archives: Nthato Morakabi

Rose Coloured Bubble – #Poetry

Radiating from eyes rimmed-red was all the disdain and pain pouring down like rain to water our feet in a puddle.

Underwhelmed by the overwhelming restrain and the wax and wane of a heart-in-a-hurricane constricting like a python’s cuddle.

Ball and chain, pour out that celebratory champagne, the blood stain left on hands and hearts and minds turned to rubble.

Yes let’s burn through the methane, put kindle to propane and cut through the vein in vain while we remain scattered across this universal terrain that binds us in a rose-coloured bubble.


Tuesday poetry is coming back and I will be collaborating with Olerato of Ole’s Truth to bring you weekly poetry. We’re opening this platform for other aspiring poets too, so if you’re feeling moved by the writing spirit to submit one, either comment or use the contact me form.

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The Armored Saint #Recommendation

In a world where any act of magic could open a portal to hell, the Order insures that no wizard will live to summon devils, and will kill as many innocent people as they must to prevent that greater horror. After witnessing a horrendous slaughter, the village girl Heloise opposes the Order, and risks bringing their wrath down on herself, her family, and her village.


I’ll be reviewing this book for Gamecca Magazine. Shout out to TOR.com for bringing out such amazing books and keeping us reading.

PS: I was at Exclusive Books – Clearwater Mall and I almost decided that money didn’t matter, only every book that existed on those shelves. Such beautiful books. Most of which have showed up on this blog as To Read or a recommendation. Someone want to buy me an Exclusive Books? I promise I’ll transform it into an amazing library where we can have cookies and coffee/tea while indulging in the beauty and joy of reading.

Anyone?

#NaNoWriMo Progress: Week 2

We all struggle when it comes to writing, right? I think we hear and cry out more “Woe is me” during NaNo than any other time. As though the words that seek to escape the prison of our mind have suddenly realised it’s better inside their familiar cell.

SO imagine my surprise when 22,309 words later I’m still working through the first arc of my NaNo novel and there’s still more coming. As though my Word document has become an anthill and the little critters are coming home to roost. (Do ants roost?)

The Actual Struggle

I think I’ve said this before in my previous NaNo progress post that my struggle is not with the words themselves but the story. At first it was how to start, then for a while it was where it was all going. Now its pulling back from bearing the emotions my characters experience as they guide me through their journey. Becoming a conduit for their tales of woe.

It’s one of the greatest feelings as a writer (and reader) when these fictional people created for the sake of entertainment become more than just characters in a book. They manifest into living souls tugging at the heart and mind and making you scream, “Don’t go in there! It’s a trap.” then watching them fall into the trap to leave you hoping with all your might that they escape.

However as the author I not only set up the trap, but drive circumstances forcing my characters towards that trap, make them fall in and then deciding whether or not the escape. Sometimes these characters take the reigns and tug them away from me long enough to make their own choices before I can regain control. As though they were alive.

It also scares me how much control they have once I’m digging into the writing and the real world disappears around me. As though I’ve plugged into a virtual reality headset that brings my story to life and I live through it, watching it unfold while also guiding where, how, who, and why everything is happening.

Summon the Great Editor

I would but I’m not allowed to during NaNoWriMo. You know that right? Also, I have an aversion to editing but as I’ve been writing, I discovered so many things about the style I want to use. I think the first part of my novel is all first person, then I switched to normal third person, and now, as my good friend Ole would say (shout out to you dude) about my current writing style, “That’s some wedding floral arrangement level of floweriness”.

So now I want to go back and rewrite everything with that same style but… perhaps in December. Anyway, I have to get back to writing now.

Onward to 50K and more.

The Secret History #Recommendation

Truly deserving of the accolade Modern Classic, Donna Tartt’s cult bestseller The Secret History is a remarkable achievement – both compelling and elegant, dramatic and playful.

Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality their lives are changed profoundly and for ever.


I saw this on Chitra’s blog and thought it sounded like a great premise and probably would make a fascinating film too.

Friday Fiction: The Dance of Death

Prompt courtesy of Chasing Dreams Publishing – Monday Writing Prompt

Prompt: They danced through the stars

Word Limit: 250 words


They danced through the stars. Moonlit wisps coiling through vast expanse as amber-scarlet flares belched stagnant pale tendrils into the gaping abyss.

“Engine failure. Engine Failure” Droned the monotony of the ship’s A.I.

Red blossomed across the deck in incessant flashes as wailing sirens echoed off the walls. The control panel shimmered with lights, illuminating the captain’s chair and halo of gold-red-gold tresses pressed against cheek and forehead, the captain sweating against pulsing lights.

“Estimated crash time?” She asked quietly into the attached headset.

“At this rate I’d say a steady seventeen minutes and… about 23 seconds. Unless you get some balancé Cap.” The voice replied with just a hint of smile in its gruffness.

“Just keep those cannons ready.” The captain replied, a ghost of smile touching her lips.

“Better bring this crash-ballet to its finale.”

As though summoned by the remark, the emptiness of space shimmered in colossal prism-tinged glare. Then they were wholly and completely surrounded.

Allegro, captain. Allegro.”

Trails of fire followed the diving ship as streaks of light boomed from the surrounding angular prisms of enemy forces. With as much elegance and grace a blazing ship could afford, the captain pirouetted through interminable fire,

“Fouetté!”

The ship spiralled, cannon extending outwards in explosive bursts of successive fire, tucking in to reload and extend once more for a repeat performance.

“Inbound photon torpedo.” A.I notified them. Hands and hearts froze. Silence pervaded.

“It’s been a pleasure dancing with you Cap.”

“Always Jarvis.” Tears trickling down, “Always.”


 

#NaNoWriMo Progress: Week 1

This is going to be a short one because I have to get back to all the writing. No tips. No advice. No words of encouragement beyond “Do the best that you can, and more.”

This is really more about how important the Prep I did before NaNo has helped me sit down and churn out 2K words in a two hours. Not an impressive Word Per Minute (it’s 16wpm) but in the end I was able to flow. My characters had been defined. The world had been built. The overall arc considered. It was just a matter of waiting for NaNo to come around so I can put words down and start working on the story.

The Difficulty of Starting

I struggled to start. I mean really struggled. Not in terms of word count, but in terms of how I wanted the story to go. I have these two main characters, the Innocent-yet-Tainted character and the Tainted-Seeking-Innocence character. Either one had a really good premise and backstory but I couldn’t decide which one to go with. So I did both. Hated both. Then I started a third draft right in the middle of each of their personal conflicts, guiding the story forward from each of their perspectives.

As it stands, between those three drafts I am on (13,289 ) words, though I don’t want to include the first two drafts into the word count. I feel like its cheating.

What idiot wrote this oh I did.

The Novel in Your Head

Once I started writing I could feel my characters come alive in my head. Their thoughts becoming my own, their emotions thrumming through me. The decisions they were making also mine to make. There are two experiences I want to share you with you:

The Diverging Path

As I was writing a particular scene, my character was on the way to doing something that would change their current situation. Only that change had two diverging paths and each leading to a different end for the scene. I knew this as I was writing, fingers too slow to catch up to the mind, the mind conjuring up new futures where the character could go and I had to choose one as I was writing. The words I was typing at that moment to alter the destiny of my character.

I have never felt so torn about the future of a fictional character. Seeing these two timelines stretching outwards and me choosing which one I think is best. Oh the thrill of writing.

 

The Movie Feeling

During my 2k writing sprint, I was writing a particularly emotional scene where the character makes quite an important decision. I was there with them through every moment, living vicariously through each word my fingers were typing to reflect this character I had become. And it was when I wrote the final scene and took my break that I realised I was emotionally invested into this character and wanted to know more. Like I had paused a scene in a movie and could press play to continue watching.

It’s a feeling I haven’t felt in my writing for a long while, and its both disturbing and exciting.

Onward to week #2

As well as this story is going, I feel like its not moving at the pace I expected it to. There are too many transitional scenes which attribute to character growth, and world building etc. And I know not every scene is going to be a horror-fest. I just have to plug away, knowing that after NaNo I’ll be free to edit, change, and chop as I see fit. Until then, I continue.

House #Recommendation

A mind-bending supernatural thriller from the creators of This Present Darkness and Saint.

Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker — two of the most acclaimed writers of supernatural thrillers — have joined forces for the first time to craft a story unlike any you’ve ever read. Enter House — where you’ll find yourself thrown into a killer’s deadly game in which the only way to win is to lose… and the only way out is in.

The stakes of the game become clear when a tin can is tossed into the house with rules scrawled on it. Rules that only a madman—or worse—could have written. Rules that make no sense yet must be followed.

One game. Seven players. Three rules. Game ends at dawn.


Ted Dekker is one of those authors whose books can be action packed and fast paced, and sometimes slow and drawn-out. I’ve liked 2 out of 3 of his books I read. This one sounds like a good read too. I haven’t heard anything about Frank Peretti though so I cannot offer any insights on that regard.

#FindJoziFlash17 Cover Reveal

 

If you have been following me on Twitter, or perhaps joined my Facebook Author page, then you will know all about the #FindJoziFlash17 treasure hunt we’ve been running. Well it’s not too late, and all the clues have been posted so today I have the honor and privilege to present to you: *drum roll please.

 

 

That’s right, gaze upon the beauty and magnificence of our upcoming Jozi Flash anthology cover. Man I love this image. It tells me that we have so much local talent both in art and writing here in South Africa, but it also tells me that Chasing Dreams Publishing has done it again for us so thank you Nicky!


So onto the nitty gritty details. The rules are posted below, but they are also in the downloadable Jozi Flash ’17 Info Pack. This pack is super-important because it contains all the info you need to solve the clues about where each piece of the cover will be hidden.

We want this to be interactive and entertaining, so when you find a clue on one of the sites, please like it, or leave a comment or follow the author/artist. It’s not compulsory, but it makes our day! 🙂

Also, just in case you don’t adore treasure hunts and wonder why you should bother participating – the winner of the hunt will receive a $20 Amazon Gift Card. Which you can spend. On books. Or, you know… anything on Amazon. And that’s pretty cool. 😉

THE RULES

  1. Download the #FindJoziFlash17 Info Pack from https://chasingdreamspublishing.wordpress.com/findjoziflash17
  2. Print page 4 of the Info Pack in order to save details about the hunt.
  3. Read through the pack to get to know the authors and artist (participants), and find their social media links.
  4. One clue will be posted each day starting from the 23rd October 2017 and running until the 2nd November 2017.
  5. The clues will lead to one of the participants’ social media sites and will be posted at random times. (They are already posted GO GO GO!)
  6. Make a note of who posted each clue on the relevant days and which social media site they used.
  7. Once the cover is revealed (Today!) on the 2nd November 2017, return to the FindJoziFlash17 post and leave a comment listing the order in which the clues appeared.
  8. The competition will be open until midnight GMT+2 on the 3rd November 2017.
  9. The winner will be randomly selected from the correct entries and announced by the 5th November 2017
  10. Friends and family members of the participants are illegible for entry.
  11. The winner will be notified by e-mail and will have a week to claim their prize.
  12. The prize is a $20 Amazon Gift Card and is not exchangeable for cash.
  13. The draw is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

You need to leave a comment on the chasingdreamspublishing.wordpress.com/findjoziflash17 page in order to be eligible for entry into the draw.


Did you know: You can read the first Jozi Flash anthology for free? Yeah! Just click here -> Jozi Flash and scroll all the way down.

Genre Writing: Horror – World Building

Oh man I really enjoyed doing this Genre Writing series. But alas it has come to an end as I turn my focus towards NaNoWriMo. Will it return? I think I said it would in a previous blog post which means technically I am held accountable by a past me with too much optimism in his head. Nonetheless, hopefully you’ll be staying with me on the blog right? Why? Well… I still have great content to share with you as we embark on this writing/reading/blogging journey.

I have written so much content on world building on this blog. Don’t believe me? Just scroll through: WORLD BUILDING POSTS!. Oh and this doesn’t even include the four-part Guest Post I did with Rachel Poli. So what I am doing different this time? Well for starters my focus will be world building for horror and the second is that it’s world building for my NaNo novel.

So let’s dive in. *Cue creepy Halloween music


Fundamentals of Horror

If you’ve been following along with my Genre Writing: Horror series then you’ll know we’ve covered quite a lot of things. We’ve spoken about the fundamentals of horror, namely:

Atmosphere:  The mood and setting of the story, intended to guide the reader’s mind towards understanding that bad things are going to happen.

Fear Factor: The reason the story is a horror. Anything from spiders and clowns, to Lovecraftian entities, and demons, to serial killers.

Character Flaws: No one acts rationally when placed into an irrational situation. You’ve probably done it too, checked the wardrobe to make sure there’s no monster in there. Luckily there wasn’t. Not in horror. There’s a monster in there.

The Twist: Not all horrors have a twist, but a lot do. The creature the hero defeated is not dead and in the last scene the decapitated head winks.

Putting the Fear into the Story

I also spoke about creating the sense of fear into the reader and how I go about doing that.

Role of the Author: As the author, you must understand that we won’t all have the same fears. What you must do is put that fear into the reader. Look at Stephen King’s early novels, Cujo, Christine, Pet Semetary, IT, The Mist etc. He took mundane things and made us, the readers, fear them.

Realism/Logic: A lot of people get put off by some horror books because the scenes are beyond believable. Using realism and logic to craft a believable horror puts readers into a position where they think “This could happen.” Once that thought enters their mind, you’ve done your job.

Pain vs Paranoia – Emotional vs Physical: Invest into your characters. They are the driving force of horror. Your reader must suddenly find themselves in the shoes of the characters, their paranoia and fear growing with each turning page.

Defining Your Writing Style

I did a comprehensive look at writing styles, talking word choice, voice, sentence structure, and writing style (expository/descriptive/narrative). This, combined with my own ideas/emotions defined the kind of horror I would write. While horror is a general term, there are different variations of it. From Gothic horror to contemporary to Weird fiction to your serial killer stories.

To Gore or not to Gore: Horror is not defined by blood splatter, although it is a nice to have. Figure out if the story you’re writing needs to be gory to be a good horror or if you can get away with less.

Psychological Horror: Sometimes humans are monsters. Psychological horror shows us the depth of human depravity. We are exposed to our vulnerabilities in light of mental and emotional fears revealing the darker side of the human psyche.

Through the Eyes of One: A worldview is how someone sees the world. Whether its through rose-tinted glasses or through filth stained glasses. Telling from the killer’s eyes will mean your writing reflects his thoughts. He won’t mind kicking a puppy. As opposed to telling the story through the eyes of a child with an innocent mindset. Varying perspectives can give the story a new edge that pushes it from mediocre to brilliant.

The Hero vs the Monster

This is usually the defining factor of your horror which is why I left it for last. The question is, what kind of monster do you want to write about? The haunted house? The possessed child? The monster under the bed? The supernatural? Or human monsters. Or the Old Ones?

Character/Monster Building: There’s a whole post on this so read it when you get a chance. Important things to note are individuality, motivation, strengths, weaknesses and conflict to name a few. Make them multi-dimensional in their interests, in their goals, in their emotions, and in their thinking. Give them a past that explains who and why they are who they are.

Cliches Everywhere: I’ve spoken about this before, that cliches aren’t necessarily bad. It’s about how you write them. There are plenty of novels about possessions, and haunted houses, and vampires and it seems every week a new Cthulu novella is announced. At the same time we are all individuals with differing upbringing, inspirations, etc and can be unique even in our cliches. Just don’t copy your favourite author. You’re not them.

 

World Building for Horror

If you were confused about how everything I wrote fits into world building, well let me tell you. That was the world building.

The fundamentals defined what kind of world your story will be in, mostly displayed by the atmosphere you’re going for. So in your mind you have a place – a location – where everything will take place. That’s the first part of your world.

Fear introduced a monster into your environment. They skulk about in this created world. They possibly have a place they call their own or somewhere where they came from. Everything that makes the monster defines its “home” as a spider has a web.  You’ve added another location to your world.

Writing style and character/monster building, gives you the worldview of the story and its characters. Are we seeing it from the perspective of a regular human? Adult or child? Killer? Family man? Student? These will define the environments they go to which gives you more locations such as home, office, school, local park etc. It also defines how they see things around them. A cemetery may be scary for a child, but the perfect location to hide dead bodies for a killer.

My NaNo Novel:
Some Horror Thing (Working title)

Tomorrow I begin to write my novel. I have my characters, I have an idea of a story, and I have an idea of where its all going to take place. It will be set in our current world and time, with “flashes” to the past as we (yes both of us) watch how the monster became the monster. The whole Genre Writing segment has been world building.

Now I’m ready


*Gifs from Silent Hill because it’s just beautiful!

Have these tips helped you? Are you ready for NaNo?

 

Happy Hour in Hell #Recommendation

I’ve been told to go to Hell more times than I can count. But this time I’m actually going.

My name’s Bobby Dollar, sometimes known as Doloriel, and of course, Hell isn’t a great place for someone like me – I’m an angel. They don’t like my kind down there, not even the slightly fallen variety. But they have my girlfriend, who happens to be a beautiful demon named Casimira, Countess of Cold Hands. Why does an angel have a demon girlfriend? Well, certainly not because it helps my career.

She’s being held hostage by one of the nastiest, most powerful demons in all of the netherworld – Eligor, Grand Duke of Hell. He already hates me, and he’d like nothing better than to get his hands on me and rip my immortal soul right out of my borrowed but oh-so-mortal body.

But wait, it gets better! Not only do I have to sneak into Hell, make my way across thousands of miles of terror and suffering to reach Pandemonium, capital of the fiery depths, but then I have to steal Caz right out from under Eligor’s burning eyes and smuggle her out again, past demon soldiers, hellhounds, and all the murderous creatures imprisoned there for eternity. And even if I somehow manage to escape Hell, I’m also being stalked by an undead psychopath named Smyler who’s been following me for weeks. Oh, and did I mention that he can’t be killed?

So if I somehow survive Hell, elude the Grand Duke and all his hideous minions and make it back to the real world, I’ll still be the most hunted soul in Creation. But at least I’ll have Caz. Gotta have something to look forward to, right?

So just pour me that damn drink, will you? I’ve got somewhere to go.


My good friends Elliot P. McGee was telling me about this book and after reading that synopsis, you can understand why I would want to read it.

Tad Williams has held more jobs than any sane person should admit to—singing in a band, selling shoes, managing a financial institution, throwing newspapers, and designing military manuals, to name just a few. He also hosted a syndicated radio show for ten years, worked in theater and television production, taught both grade-school and college classes, and worked in multimedia for a major computer firm. He is cofounder of an interactive television company, and is currently writing comic books and film and television scripts as well as novels.

Tad and his wife, Deborah Beale, live in the San Francisco Bay Area with their children and far more cats, dogs, turtles, pet ants and banana slugs than they can count.


 

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