This is a reprint of the April 2021 Newsletter – to get the news before anyone else, make sure to sign up for my newsletter!
Hellooooooo again, my friend!
So thrilled you’re letting me share my Untamed, Unexpected, Unforgettable world with you again.
April is bidding us a fond adieu and spring has sprung. All things new and fresh abound. May this find delightful new beginnings and fresh starts being offered to you, with outstretched hands. Go on, grab them.
Our only guarantee of time, is NOW.
After three long years of gestation – Zebra will be born imminently. In that time, we could have birthed an African elephant (645 days), a human baby (270 days) and a monkey (180 days)!
Because you, who subscribe so joyously to my newsletter, are so very important to me, I want to share some of Zebra’s backstory.
And GUESS WHAT? Zebra is on pre-order on Amazon TODAY with the goal of being released on 28th May 2021. Wahoooooooooooooooooooo!!
I can’t wait to introduce you to Papin and Jock, Lieut and his boys.
And do check out the UNEXPECTED section of this newsletter…I’m giving away a fantabulous Zebra gift!
So, please hop aboard my camo painted jeep, and have a peek into Zebra’s essence…
This is the story of how Zebra became a novel.
Athol rarely talks about himself. I find that a charming quality but not when I’m attempting to extract information for a meaty novel! :o)
After War Serenade’s first movie option, I was motivated to write another screenplay. Athol’s unusual childhood and youth, growing up in the gorgeous Drakensberg Mountains, far from “civilization”, while his parents ran Champagne Castle Hotel, made a captivating setting.
Over the years, Athol shared with me snippets of his adventures with his best friend Papin, a herd boy a few years older. Papin was put in charge of him when he was too young to fend for himself in the treacherous environment, and the two boys knew those mountains backwards and in their sleep.
It was from Papin Athol learned all about the Zulu culture and of course, he spoke fluent Zulu, which in those early Colonial years, was a rarity.
I knew Athol was called up by the South African Defense Force for many, many more army stints than was usual. Most boys our age were commanded to serve for one or two years of compulsory border duty under the Nationalist government, but they were rarely called up again.
Athol, however, was plucked from his normal life for 13 long years and sent to the border on missions. I never quite understood why, but figured he would tell me in his own good time. Little did I know I’d have to wait 25 years!
It was Athol’s fluency of Zulu language and culture that made him an asset to the SADF for so long – and all for mere cents (pennies) a day. They ordered him to the border with little notice, plucked him from his profession for two to three months at a time each year, without benefits and certainly no PTSD counselling.
Tell me then, how could such a remarkable life NOT be turned into a novel? And what’s a writer to do but write?
As a screenplay, the producers and LA studio executives at the Pitch Festivals I attended in 2006 said, “It’s too episodic for a movie. This should be a book!” Not exactly what I wanted to hear…though I suspect in 2021 (versus pre-Netflix 2006) “episodic” Zebra may have created a more feverish stir.
After my movie option lessons with War Serenade, Zebra was the natural follow up in novel form.
What started as a push and pull of Athol’s pragmatism and my imagination, turned into our Zebra. We so hope you enjoy it.
Are you looking for something new to read? Then you’ll love this collection of Historical Fiction books! While War Serenade is no longer available in Kindle Unlimited, my Megan’s latest World’s Fair romance, In Charleston With You, certainly will be! It’s a charming story about an unexpected pair who share a love of the Victorian language of flowers. It’s availably now for 99¢ while it’s on pre-order, but that price goes up to $2.99 after it releases on 30th April, so get it quick!
My beta readers – all of whom were wonderful – urged me to write a glossary for Zebra.
That request kicked my butt. Though I own three Zulu dictionaries, they became door stoppers in the three years of this novel’s making. There are so many South Africanisms that have multiple meanings, and indeed, some Zulu words Athol and Papin used couldn’t be found, but such was Athol’s insistence, I resorted to phonetics. Gollaga-inja!
But I urge you to go with the flow and join us on this journey, sans judgement or admonishment. Once you’ve read the book, you’ll understand why I didn’t have a hope in hell of getting the spelling out of my husband.
I ask that you immerse yourself into the Zebra adventure, and if you stumble over a word, email me – email@example.com – I’d be thrilled to bits to hear from you.
Of course, you have our full permission to adopt any of the made-up words as your own. ;o)
IT’S TIME TO GIVE AWAY SOMETHING FABULOUS!
I will give away a gift voucher for the value of $35 from AGiftofLove29 on Etsy. Sandra Springs has a ZEBRA Collection she’s graciously named after my second born. ;o) A little something to be worn and shown off!
Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. In the subject line? ZEBRA COLLECTION, and in the body, tell me what the names of the two main Zebra characters are (mentioned on page 1). Entries must be received by launch date 28th May, and one lucky winner will be drawn!
I stumbled across this book. What a joy it is. It speaks right to the heart of the everywoman. That doesn’t mean you boys are excluded by any means. You’ll not only love it, boys, but armed with this author’s insight, you might find new and spectacular nuances within your own special woman. What fun!
Winnie Winkles’ To Walk in the World. Twin tales of Inception, sure wowed this reviewer too…read on!
“When the author said this book turned into a love letter to women everywhere, I had no idea the impact it would have on me. Rarely does a book knock the breath out of me and jolt my mind and heart as this one did. This author has insightfully created a story of the inner struggle those of us who have suffered grief have as they try to heal and return to ‘normal.’ This book was written by the author’s heart.
There were so many pages where I said to myself – “This is me” – “I have felt this” – “I have lived this.” This is a book where you will need to not only open your mind but open your heart as well. One of the most impactful reads I have had in a very long time.
If you are a woman, you must read it. If you are a man or anyone else, just read it. Go buy it – it’s going to be my #1 recommended read for the year.”
Until Next We Meet…
So, dear friend, Zebra is written during difficult times in the country where Athol and I grew up. A country we loved. We are and always will be at heart, South African.
Thankfully, much has changed since the days in which this book was set. Immense strides have diminished cultural chasms and acceptance has nurtured South Africa into a true Rainbow Nation.
Thank you so much for letting me share the birth of my new novel with you. I hope once you hold Zebra in your hands, he will carry you across the sea to an 11,000-foot mountain range far, far away, where daring adventures await your imaginary participation…
And remember, Carpe Diem, my friends. Live for today.
Wishing you all you wish yourselves, and more!
P.S. If you’re not yet a member of Club Untamed, please join on Facebook. We have fun there and would love you to join us!
P.P.S. From Club Untamed you will get access to a secret door with musings ONLY for club members. (Like the blurb that will appear on the back cover of Zebra!)