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Map to the World: Nano Prep


As most of you will know, NaNoWriMo is around the corner. Initially I wasn’t going to participate considering the busyness of life and all the things requiring my attention. However, I was talking to Rachel Poli in one of her blog posts discussing NaNo participation and she reminded me that I could be a rebel; I could write my 50K words without starting a new novel. It was a great idea.

New Novel

Of course, my mind is a mysterious creature, able to conjure up the most outlandish ideas at the worst times. I don’t even remember where the idea came from, but I was suddenly struck by it for a new novel. Just in time for NaNo too. Only problem? It’s vast. It’s confusing. It’s massive. It keeps twisting and turning and writhing and squirming into a new form every day. It has more forms than a villain from Dragonball Z.



I’m a pantser. A discovery writer. A rambler. I get an idea, start writing and let the story, characters, and vague plot progress the story wherever it pleases. I’m as surprised by the ending as everyone else. Truth is, this doesn’t work all the time. It’s probably why I don’t have a complete novel by now. Why I hit writer’s block faster and harder.

Characters are core ingredients to a story. I sometimes forget this and realize much later than I have cookie-cut characters as thin as paper and more clichéd than an orphaned boy who finds out he has a special ability that makes him the chosen one. According to ancient prophecy. Guided by his mentor… who dies.

World Building is a massive part of the story. Yet I tend to forget this even though I wrote a four part series on world building. In fact, I read through that series and I realized that it’s all just vague waffling without getting into the nitty-gritty of world building. Even that is just another example of my type of writing. And I’m starting to hate it.

Depth of story, character, and world is my greatest obstacle. It is really difficult to write profoundly when you have no idea what you’re writing about. It is difficult to have significant characters when you have no idea who they are. It is difficult to have an expansive world if you don’t know what it is. In short, discovery writing hasn’t allowed me to explore all of these important traits and all I’m left with is lackluster drafts soon to be Recycle Bin material.



XMind is a free mind mapping software available for Windows, Mac, Linux and even has the cool function of working straight from a USB flash drive without needing to install it. My younger (sometimes wiser) self used to map every detail in a story. I’ve decided to go back to this tried and tested method to plot out my new novel. It actually needs it. There is so much detail I can’t imagine writing paragraphs of notes and trying to tie them all in as separate pages.

I’m actually struggling to plot this all out. The story has multiple-genres (horror, thriller, fantasy, and sci-fi, told as a mystery). It involves multiple characters. It involves multiple worlds. It involves concepts I need to figure out right down to the core otherwise my story will have more plot holes than all the Marvel hero movies (I’m looking at you especially X-Men). I’m already feeling severely overwhelmed and NaNo hasn’t even started yet.

I may have bitten off more than I can chew and I’m either going to choke, or pull a Golden-Snitch-In-My-Throat-For-The-Win-Maneuver.




The Writing Process

A guide to Pantsing_Edited

The last two days have been quite interesting, between reading Thr3e and recovering from sickness, I was also suffering a sort of writer’s block. You’d think coming up with ten horror stories would be easy but it’s not. Limiting my short stories to 3000 words is also an issue, either there’s too many words and the story is short, or there’s not enough words and I have to cut the story short by removing “unnecessary” sections. It’s actually quite frustrating.

The Processor

So how do I come up with stories? Well first I have to find a topic that scares me and guess what? I have plenty. Spiders spilling out of a spider bite in my arm and crawling over my skin. *shivers* Waking up to find a faceless figure staring down at me then proceeding to erase my features while they slowly appear on his own face. Playfully checking under the bed for monsters and actually find one. The shadow on the wall starts to move.


I take these and, as an author, have to draw up the scenarios that would make them plausible. I process the idea and it’s facets to gain a clearer picture of the story I’m trying to tell. The spider bite is plausible on it’s own so what’s the story behind the bite, how did it happen, what was I doing while it festered etc etc. Maybe the horror is not in the fact that spiders are spilling down my arm but that I let them fester in the first place for some nefarious reason.

A faceless man? Why is he faceless? Why is he trying to steal my face? Did someone steal his face or is it actually revenge as I had stolen his face initially? The zombie apocalypse erased people’s faces? It’s a government experiment to infiltrate secure locations gone wrong and their rogue Experiment X is stealing faces? What is the story?!

The Pantser

Most of the time, a word or phrase or image catches my attention and I’m flying through the story without processing anything. It’s a convoluted mess and sometimes I actually step outside for a breath of fresh air and to think through the story. Instead I just stare into the sun, blink haphazardly and go back without any processing or insight to the story I’m writing because my brain is just buzz, buzz, buzzing. Characters, scenarios and all the horrors just sweeping in on a magic carpet like,


“I can show you your mind. Shining, shimmering, scarrrry!”


I don’t have the depth that Ted Dekker has when he writes his books. I mean, wow, after reading Thr3e for my Wednesday Book Review, I’m starting to wonder if I’m just a shallow writer missing the profundity that sets Ted Dekker apart from many other authors. I mean, sure, you can write a book with a great story and fantastic characters and people are all la di da about it, but I think my goal is make people pull their hair out, write journals and life-long blog entries deciphering the twisted, mindblowing story I have written. Not because they are confused, but because the story was nothing they were expecting – it was just that amazing. I can dream though.




Hey all!

It’s August already (wow how time flies) and I’ve participated and won two Camp NaNos, which has put my word count for the year so far at around 65,000 words, and this excludes side projects and any writing I did between May and June. And in a couple more months it will be NaNoWrimo to add another 50,000 words. That’s a lot of writing. That’s a lot of words but… it’s not enough. I mean, look at the word counts for all those popular books that make us cool in the right circles:

Harry Potter: 1,084625

Lord of the Rings: 825,045

And check out this infographic: Famous Literature Words by Numbers

You might be thinking,”but Nthato, you don’t need 1 Million words to be a successful author” and I will tell you, you’re absolutely right. And then you might ask, “So why get bogged down by those massive word counts” and I will stare blankly at you and walk away because I don’t have an answer. Rude hey? I know, I’m a horrible person.

No, actually I get bogged down because I realized I can write a lot of (unedited, grammatically disturbing) words in a day. But where are they all going? To the Drafts folder. Hence this announcement today!

Short Story Anthologies

That’s right folks, you heard it here first! I’ll be looking to publish two separate collections of my short stories, never seen before in the public eye. The first will be a Patreon anthology with short stories requested by patrons. The second will be my own personal collection of written works including poetry and, of course, short stories.




If you would like to be part of the Patreon anthology, please do visit my page on Patreon. I post both public and Patreon only short stories for you to enjoy. The last free piece I wrote was LRE TV presents…

Last Robot on Earth TV presents…

I’ve also updated the rewards you can get as a patron. If you can support, please do.

  • $1.00+ Per story

    • A Patreon-only 1000 – 3000 word short story of your making. You tell me what you want and I will write it for you. You will receive a PDF copy of the short story in your email, with a special mention in the acknowledgments.
    • Insight into the making of the story, including sources, first drafts, revisions etc.

    $5.00+ Per story

    • A Patreon-only +-3000 word short story of your making. You tell me what you want and I will write it for you. You will receive a PDF copy of the short story in your email, with a special mention in the acknowledgments.
    • Insight into the making of the story, including sources, first drafts, revisions etc.
    • All visual artwork and sources used for the making of the short story. Character insights, location guides, full backstory to the short story. Exclusive sketches of cover art for the anthology.
  • $10.00+ Per story

    • Your opportunity to vote for stories appearing in the anthology.
    • A free .PDF, .mobi, or .epub copy of the Anthology.
    • A mention in the acknowledgements.
    • Special access to the “Behind The Scenes” of the anthology.
    • All previous rewards.


Other things

Book Reviews

Nothing else has changed regarding all the other things I’m working on. Wednesday Book Reviews will still be going. Sometimes you gotta read when you’re not writing. If you’re an author with an upcoming book or a book already published, feel free to contact me for a review. You can use the form at the top.

Digital Art

I’m still working on my digital art for my July Camp NaNo work, which is a Fantasy story about… magic. Inspired by a series of things including Final Fantasy mage classes, JRPG awesomeness and storyline depths that would make anime watchers proud. Except, it’s African based. And I’m loving it.

What are your plans for the rest of the year?

Fantasy 101: Just Swords and Sorcery

Please put out your burning torches and reign your dragons, I’m not suggesting that Fantasy is just swords and sorcery. There’s also princesses and mythical creatures intertwined into the fabric of fantasy. Okay you can light just one torch but, before you burn my heretical self, sit down and let me tell you a tale. It begins with a Princess… and a goblin.


It’s quite a long journey from George MacDonald’s The Princess and the Goblin novel to George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire; about 140 years of Fantasy literature in between spanning across enough sub-genres that R.R. Martin couldn’t behead fast enough.

When we consider fantasy, we generally think of fantastical lands, magic, dragons, princesses, wizards, swordsmen, goblins, orcs, hobbits and the like. But the genre is so much more than that. There’s dark mythological horrors (have you read Dark Things), there’s juvenile fantasy (Harry Potter, Narnia), there’s diesel punk (steampunk… kind of… it’s a long story), high fantasy (Lord of the Rings), urban fantasy (please don’t say Teen Wolf or Vampire Diaries – the series not… never mind), fairy tales and the list goes on.

“Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

With CampNaNo a whole week away, I have just seven days to ensure that I get the proper gist of what fantasy actually is before beginning my short-story/graphic novel. So let’s start with the basics of fantasy:

Fantasy 101

Imaginary Worlds

Whether you have stepped out of a wardrobe or ran through a wall on Platform 9 3/4, most stories in the fantasy genre occur in a world outside of our own; a land where almost anything is possible. Sure, some incorporate a more contemporary era, but it is a world that is still outside our own in terms of possibility. In fact, that word possibility is the key word of any fantasy setting. The possibility of a werewolf as a presidential candidate. The possibility of finding a book that contains real magic. The possibility of anything fantastical happening. What would that mean to the world around us?

“They can keep their heaven. When I die, I’d sooner go to Middle Earth. ”
― George R.R. Martin

Magic / Supernatural Elements

Some practice Allomancy, some are part of the legendary Istari, others are protégés among rêveurs in a moving circus; they wield otherworldly abilities that we can only dream of in the real world. Some are born with them, some invoke it into existence, others rely on relics, symbols, wards, wands and gestures, all in a bid to access some supernatural ability which we call magic. This idea of it being “supernatural” is what makes it fantastical, so otherworldly, that by simply saying a certain phrase of Latin origin, you can call forth a ball of fire or lightning from the sky.

Others have tried to use science to explain the phenomenon of magic. In The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, this is the dialog between Balthazar and Dave:

Balthazar: Which also explains why molecular physics comes so easily to you.

Dave        : So, wait. Is sorcery science or magic?

Balthazar: Yes and yes.

Regardless of it’s origin, limitations, elemental attributes, invocation etc, the very idea of magic fuels the fantasy genre and adds a wonderful sense of fantasia.

Your sister may be able to see the future, but you yourself can shape it, boy. Do not forget that… there are many kinds of magic, after all.”
― Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus


Monster book of monsters

Copyright blah blah blah. Of course if you’ve read Harry Potter you know all about the monster book of monsters (and the upcoming movie about it! Fantastic beasts and where to find them) which brings another element of the fantasy genre: creatures.

The origin of these creatures can be traced back through the ages, and I mean waaay back. They appear in Norse mythology, Celtic mythology, Classical mythology (Greco-Roman), ancient Semitic religion (Middle East and North Africa), Chinese folklore and Sumerian religion (3500 BC).  They go beyond just goblins, orcs, elves, dwarves, fairies, harpies, dragons, werewolves, vampires, mermaids, chimeras, Gorgons, Dark Lords, leviathans and oh so much more. They are scattered across the world and appear in various forms, live in a myriad of landscapes, communities and holes. Not all are evil. Not all are good. And they definitely add a sense of wonder and fear into any fantastical tale.

“What would an ocean be without a monster lurking in the dark? It would be like sleep without dreams.”
― Werner Herzog


What would a story be without its hero? Most of them in the fantasy genre fall into some sort of trope: the orphan, the weird sibling, the loner who turns out to be from a “special” lineage, the reluctant hero, the underdog; and all of them find some ability (or learn to control it) which they use to prevent an evil. They are guided by some older mentor (mostly of the bearded kind) who may or may not die along the way, killed by some Dark Lord, which motivates the hero even more to quell the evil.

Or a wandering warrior with a mysterious past they wish to never relive. They are approached by a mysterious figure and called to embrace their destiny. This involves fending off hordes of creatures, finding the great evil behind them and engaging in an epic battle that forces them to reconcile their past and move to a better future. Normally with some beauty in tow.

All of them are plagued by a tragic past or future.

Regardless of their origin, we love the hero and their journey, watching them finally embrace who they are and defeat the evil. We are moved by their story, the hardships they overcome and the choices they made with the power they have been burdened with.

“Heroes are made by the paths they choose, not the powers they are graced with.”
― Brodi Ashton, Everneath

As I research and read up on the fantasy genre, recall all the books, films and series I’ve watched, I can’t help falling in love with fantasy again. Definitely looking forward to the July Camp.

I still have some space in my cabin, so comment your username and I’ll add you in!

Friends of the Trade


If there is one thing I have found and now appreciate about writing, it is my fellow writers. I am part of multiple writing groups that inspire and encourage me to continue this arduous exciting adventure that is writing. Without them I would not be at the same level I am now, perhaps would have taken longer to get here without them.


“It’s not what you know but who you know.” How often does this quote come up in the world?

“I had no idea what a literary agent was. I had no intention of working in publishing and I had never set eyes on a royalty report ever… After a couple months, Jabberwocky was expanding and our boss asked Brady if he knew anyone who could come in and temp… Before you know it, I was in the office, learning the ropes and the agency kept growing.” Sam Morgan, literary agent at the Jabberwocky Literary Agency. Reddit Q&A

Those were just some parts of a really long answer, but what it came down to was knowing someone in the industry and taking the opportunity when it was presented. I think of my current job as a Junior Technical Writer and the doubts I had that I would get it; I had enough doubts to drown an old testament prophet. Then someone on one of the writing groups I was part of sent out a message that her boss was allowing her to employ a junior and she was asking the writing group first. Opportunity. I figured there were others in the group far more qualified than me for the job, but I sent in my CV/Resume anyway and now here I am. Nthato Morakabi – Junior Technical Writer. If I wasn’t part of this group I wouldn’t have even known about this opportunity.


As much as I am an avid reader, non-fiction books were never on my TBR (To Be Read) list. I found them tedious. And then On Writing Well by William Zinnser was recommended to me by a fellow writer (and boss). From the first chapter right up to completing the book I saw my writing improve. Obvious mistakes I was not aware I was making were now clearly outlined. Had I not been part of a writing group, I would not have the job I do now and I would not have found out about this and many other great books.

Motivation / Encouragement

Every writing group I have been part of has been exceedingly encouraging. I think we all understand the amount of work and effort it takes to put words down and turn it into feasible writing. We understand the fear that it’s not good enough. We understand the courage it takes to show your work to someone else to critique. We understand it’s a grim, dark world out there, filled with rejections and endless submissions.

“I would rather be attacked than unnoticed. For the worst thing you can do to an author is to be silent as to his works.” Samuel Johnson

I have a steampunk horror novel (yet to be named) that I eventually submitted to a writing group and wow the encouragement I got along with good useful critique on my story, I am actually very confident about my story now and can’t wait to finish it.


It is far more difficult to be a writer on your own. It’s not impossible but there are definitely perks to being within a writing community that writing alone won’t offer. The points above are just a few of these perks.

Collaborative workshops and writers’ peer groups hadn’t been invented when I was young. They’re a wonderful invention. They put the writer into a community of people all working at the same art, the kind of group musicians and painters and dancers have always had.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin

Are you part of a writing community? How has it helped you in your writing?

Marching into April

It seems like just a week ago I was posting an update about Marching into the new month. Here we are at the end of March heading into April with so many things having happened and new things happening.

Camp Nano

As you know, April is the beginning of Camp Nano and I have been plotting out my Wages of Sin short story compilation. Basically, I have personified the Seven Deadly Sins and this compilation of short stories will be a sneak peak into the life of these beings. No protagonist. No good guy. Just a glimpse into the human psyche in light of the reality of sin.

Wednesday Book Review

As usual, I’m continuing the Wednesday book review thing but now I am taking book requests. There are so many books out there to read, why not help me find out what they are and share them with me? Also, if you have any books you have written, let me know and I can read them and add them to my Wednesday Book Review.

Jozi Flash

As you may know, our latest anthology was published on the 20th of March. You can find it here:

Jozi Flash Now Available

Jozi Flash – Now Available and Free!

Jozi Flash Cover 2

Yes! The day has arrived (I know I am two days late but… long weekend things) and Jozi Flash is now available for download!

This free eBook is an anthology of short stories written by five talented South African writers, who met up at the 2015 National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) write-ins and together with Nicolette Stephens, owner of Chasing Dreams Publishing (and a Wrimo herself), produced this collection of flash fiction shorts.

You can download your FREE copy right here:

ePUB – Jozi Flash

mobi – Jozi Flash

PDF – Jozi Flash


Please feel free to download, distribute, share and tell the world about Jozi Flash. I know myself and the fellow Jozi Wrimos would greatly appreciate it!

Monday Madness: The Beast Unleashed

But I love it!

But I love it!

We’re in the last week of February, and deadlines have piled up faster than the zombies from World War Z (which is relatively fast) and now I’m traversing the dark underground tunnels of Submission Land with my trusty laptop and a large flask filled with strong fatigue reducing coffee. My own “Walking Dead”.


As per the usual criteria, every month I do some writing for our local digital magazine, Gamecca Magazine which I have now been writing for four years now, heading into the fifth. That is quite amazing actually and in that time I have written almost 200 articles made up of Reviews, Previews, Technology in Africa articles and now recently, Independent Game Developer Interviews. For this month, I have three previews to write and the standard Indie Dev Interview to write up.

I really enjoy writing for Gamecca and delving into the fascinating world of games and getting excited over upcoming titles. What a privilege to write about games for such an established Magazine. I look forward to another five or more years alongside Walt and Katia, the amazing editors.


At the end of NaNoWriMo last year, a couple of us Jo’burg writers decided to continue writing together even after NaNo and this has led to the establishment of our little Jozi Wrimo group. One of the writers is looking to start her own Publishing company and in the mean time, she is helping our group to publish an anthology of short stories by the end of February. That’s seven days away.

Talk about pressure.


Well I haven’t spoken about this project in forever and yes it is still going. Tyron and I worked together on a “novelette” called Auburn in which a character is given a dose of poison. Unsure as to when it will kill them, they embark on a dangerous journey to use the last of their life for a purpose. We separated this into a Light and Dark version that run concurrent to each other ,exploring the character’s motivations and choices. We have had someone edit it for us and now we have another person proof-reading the new edits. We are hoping to knock this out soon too.

Goodreads / Friday Fiction

Lastly I am continuing in my Good Reads reading challenge with the weekly Wednesday Book Review. There are so many books out there that I want to read, that I keep discovering, that I don’t think I will ever be satisfied with the amount of books I will have read say in the next twenty years. My latest discovery was The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley


Apart from the amazing book cover design, the synopsis sounds really intriguing so I’ve put it on my TBR list… I just need to go buy it haha.

Lastly of course, I will be carrying on with my own Friday Fiction short stories with prompts normally from Rachel Poli, and hopefully I will introduce Flashmob Fiction and Cracked Flash Fiction to my weekend writing. I have been really slacking on my weekends as they are the only days I get to NOT do anything and it ends up becoming the busiest of times. Nonetheless, I will keep trying and want to thank all those who remind me weekly of the writing challenges in the first place (yes I’m talking about you Carin Marais!)

Beast Mode Activate

So this Blog Post is the first sprint through the dark writing tunnels, away from the pursuing deadline zombies hoping to drag me into the dark recesses of procrastination. Really looking forward to ending February on a high note!

January 2016: Intentions


2016 started off on an interesting note and it looks like it will only get more interesting. So in order to balance all of these new things happening, here are my intentions for January, something I will be doing each month so you have a heads up about whats coming up on the blog.


You will note that I have a Goodsreads 2016 Reading Challenge widget on my blog. So will start off January with the following books:

  1. The Well by Catherine Chanter
  2. Hollow City by Ransom Riggs
  3. Finders Keepers by Stephen King
  4. The Desert Spear by Peter V Brett


  1. A couple of us NaNoWriMo writers from Joburg are compiling an anthology of short stories so I will be writing those.
  2. Looking to enter as many Writing Competitions as possible.
  3. Contributing to Flash Fiction blogs and posting those here.
  4. Continue working on the various novels on my plate.

Do you have any plans for the month or the year?

Check out Rachel Poli and her January Goals here:

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