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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Save the Date

ROSA's inaugural conference will be held in Johannesburg on Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th October 2014.

The conference will be held at Melrose Place in Melrose, Johannesburg. This is a very central location, situated at the heart of Rosebank, Melrose Arch and Illovo. It's a lovely, friendly venue set in a treed garden, and with accommodation on site. Conference delegates will receive special discounted rates on accommodation, which will be announced together with the conference fees.

The conference will include a full day program on the Saturday and a half day followed by lunch on the Sunday. There will be a special gala dinner (partners and friends welcome) on Saturday evening. Delegates will be able to book for Saturday, Sunday or the dinner separately - and there'll also be a special package deal for delegates who want to attend the entire weekend.

We're still in the process of finalising guest speakers, the program line-up, and the gala dinner venue, so watch this space for further exciting updates.
In the meantime, feel free to check out Melrose Place's website.


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Excerpt Sunday - Love and Diamonds Anthology


Today, I'm putting in an excerpt from my short story in the Love and Diamonds Anthology. Briefly what the story is about:

Rosalee finds an engagement ring in a pocket at the dry cleaner where she works. The ring looks just like the one she returned after accepting her boyfriend’s proposal three years earlier. She still regrets giving it back to Sam, especially after he broke her heart and left. Unable to resist, she tries on the ring but can’t get it off. She has to find the owner and explain herself. What will she say?

Excerpt:

The box was probably empty. Who would leave an engagement ring in their pocket before sending their suit to the dry-cleaners? Something that valuable. Unlikely.
She needed to know what was in there so she could note it in the lost property book. If it was something worth more than an expensive restaurant meal for two, she was obligated to call the customer straight away. Company policy.
She walked up to the desk and smiled. This wasn’t a crazy nightmare coming back to taunt her, to remind her how she’d messed up her life, no, this was just an ordinary day at work.
The little lid flipped open with a jerk, and she gasped.
It couldn’t be! No! This was a crazy nightmare. She would wake up any minute.
The memories flooded back. Tears pricked her eyes. Her fingers instinctively grasped the small, delicate ring with two diamonds—one large, round diamond in the centre and another tiny one offset to the side, like the big diamond’s child or soul mate.
Soul mate. She’d known a soul mate once. The very man who’d given her this ring.
This ring? Why was her engagement ring in the pocket of a suit? One year to the day after she’d told Sam she wasn’t certain she could marry him, and he’d turned away from her in bitterness?
Sure, she’d been so wrong to choose a ring with him and then when he proposed, to say she wasn’t sure and wanted more time. What guy would take that sitting down? But leave her? Give up on them forever?
The ring was on her finger in a moment. She’d been dreaming of wearing it for months; of taking back the terrible mistake she’d made. Of keeping the very symbol of her love for Samuel.
But it wasn’t to be.
She knew that now and could never go back. But somehow she had to get over the memories so she could move on, find someone else. Or would she run away again? Was she the runaway fiancée who couldn’t put that ring on her finger? Who couldn’t commit?
No, she had to return this ring to the owner. That was her job too. She was the one who did errands, who drove around the town to take back people’s clothes and belongings. A chance to get out of the smelly dry-cleaning room was always welcome, but not today.
It wouldn’t be him, she knew that. Just a crazy coincidence that someone had chosen the same ring and she’d seen it. Odd to happen exactly a year later though.
Maybe this was fate. This was her chance to get over the hurt once and for all. To move on.
She took hold of the ring to pull it off. A little tight. The other lady must be tiny. She was small enough herself. She should have thought of that before she tried it on. A little wriggling would get it loose in a moment.

She wriggled it with her other hand, but it wouldn’t budge.

The anthology can be purchased here: Amazon

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Setting Books in Africa

Where you set your book has a direct impact on the story. It gives the atmosphere and can affect the plot and even the way the characters behave. I’ve set most of my stories in Africa where I live but a few partially in Europe. Only one of my novellas was set fully out of Africa. One day, I would like to write a story set in the US, purely for the challenge of it and to reach more readers. Most e-book readers are US based and I don’t think the majority of Americans are interested in other cultures. Times are changing though so I hope my books set in Africa will reach more people.

Why would I want to set my books in Africa then if it doesn’t always guarantee lots of sales? One of the reasons is a bit of fear. I’m afraid of getting the foreign cultures wrong. The other is patriotism and a sense of wanting to share with the world my identity and my corner of the world. I’m also very lazy with research and would rather concentrate on the story then get bogged down with setting details. Not a good reason. Exactly why I want to kick my butt and set a story in the US.

Here are some things I’ve learned about setting a book in Africa:
  1. Try to bring in some special landmarks or characteristics of the place, especially ones that are universally known. For example, in "Dragonfly Moments," I put Tessa’s art gallery smack bang in the middle of Nelson Mandela Square. Immediately, the US readers would identify with “Mandela.”
  2. Still do some research to check your settings unless it’s your home town although even then you may need to double-check information. For example, I did have to research about Johannesburg Central and Soweto for "Dragonfly Moments" because Tessa goes with Ryan to see a pavement painting in Johannesburg Central and then meets orphaned baby, Lilly, at a home in Soweto. Although I’ve visited Johannesburg before, I haven’t actually visited those parts of it.
  3. If possible, still get a Beta reader to check your settings if you don’t feel confident. My follow-on book after "Dragonfly Moments," which is coming out in September, is partly set in Zambia. I haven’t lived there for nearly ten years now so I sent the story to a friend in Zambia to check. She’s not a writer but at least she can check I didn’t make a total mess-up with the settings.
  4. Bring in some cultural bits but don’t bombard the reader with strange words like bakkie or vetkoek or rusk. I know I’ve been guilty of that in the past. You could do it subtly. Maybe bring the word into your dialogue, like say “I want to eat a rusk. I so love those chunky South African biscuits you dip in coffee.”
  5. Don’t write a travelogue. Bring your settings into the story. Use your five senses from the point of view of the main character – what they saw, heard and smelt in their moments in the country. Too long descriptions may get the reader bored.

I want to take pride in my heritage. Yes, South Africa has many negatives. It hasn’t always been the easiest country to live in and has a painful past. But essentially, I am an African. I may be white, but I was born and bred here. I can’t help but bring it out into my books.

Do you like setting your books in your familiar setting or do you prefer to enter an exotic location far away as an escape?

What tips can you offer about setting a book in Africa?

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Excerpt Sunday: BRENT'S LAW by Ylette Pearson

Blurb:

The cougar inside her purrs at his touch, but is she willing to pay the price for succumbing to temptation?

Thirty-eight-year-old Samantha Owen worked hard to earn the distinction of being the most respected divorce attorney in Sandton, South Africa. Ethical and politically correct conduct ensure she remains at the top of her game and in high demand by rich and influential clients.

When the arrogant and sinfully rich international rugby player, Brent Russell, saunters into Samantha’s office, he evokes flashes of satin sheets and tangled bodies in her mind. But, despite resembling a Greek god and setting her body on fire, he is off-limits. Twelve years younger than her and her client’s soon to be ex-husband, Samantha could be disbarred by just talking to Brent without his attorney present. Besides, Samantha never dates married men—ever.
Used to getting his own way and determined to have her in his bed, Brent embarks on a relentless pursuit of Samantha. Despite Samantha returning his gifts and refusing to consider having dinner with him, he slowly erodes all her objections to an affair between them. Only when he uses his fame to finalise the divorce while Samantha is on her annual leave, does she agree to accompany him for a holiday on his farm at Komatipoort—a decision that could cost her both her reputation and career.

Excerpt:

Samantha Owen stared at the petite blonde woman seated opposite her. The woman sounded sincere enough, but something kept tinkering at the back of her mind. As an attorney, she’d learnt to heed those warnings and now the bells chimed like those on top of the church.

“Amber, are you sure you’ve told me everything? I don’t want any surprises during our meeting this afternoon.”

The blonde woman flicked her Barbie-doll hair over her shoulder and pouted. “I told you. The two-timing scum needs to pay. It’s not as if he can’t afford it, as you well know. He’s just being spiteful.”

Heavens, was she ever so young and arrogant? Samantha suppressed a sigh. Sometimes she wondered if her reputation of always being ethical and fair in divorce cases wasn’t too much of a burden to bear. Clients like Amber Russell would tempt the patience of a saint. Refusing the more than generous settlement offer the other party had made, reeked of spite on her side, not her estranged husband’s.

“Fine, but you know I will withdraw as your attorney if they spring any surprises on us today.”

“Whatever.”

Normally Samantha couldn’t care less about her client’s indifference, but she’d had a long day, with this particular client sauntering in from the streets of Sandton too many times during the past week. Right now, she’d rather be at home, barefoot and cooking for a bunch of students who only wanted their next warm meal from her.

She glanced at her watch. If the attorney for the defendant stayed true to form, he and his client should arrive within the next three minutes. Although Rob Bentley appeared flustered and absentminded, Samantha had quickly learnt that it was all a façade. The attorney had a razor-sharp mind that could sift through the muck in any divorce case to find the core of the dispute. It was always a pleasure to deal with him on the opposing side.

“Let’s move to the conference table, shall we?”

After gathering her documents, she walked around the large mahogany desk towards the round wooden table in the corner. She’d purposely placed the conference table far from the wall-to-wall windows so the view over the city couldn’t distract them. She chose the chairs facing the window for herself and her client, leaving her opponents looking at a painting of two wolves at loggerheads.

A discreet knock sounded on the outer door and Samantha flattened her palms over her tight fitting pencil skirt then buttoned her jacket. With a final glance at her client fiddling with her iPad, she reached for the door.

“Good afternoon, Rob, Mister Russell.”

She shook hands with the attorney and waved him towards the conference table. “Please have a seat.” Then she craned her neck to greet her client’s husband and the bottom dropped out of her stomach. 

Vivid blue eyes stared straight through her and jet-black hair curled over the collar in his neck. The corners of his mouth tilted upwards as the same blue eyes glided like a caress over the length of her body. Like he’d just unwrapped a new present, he took his time inspecting her grey jacket, white silk blouse, pencil skirt, stockings and lastly her two-inch heels. His tongue moistened his lower lip as he focused on the traitorous tips of her breasts jutting through the thin material of her jacket. Under his scrutiny, they puckered to an almost painful hardness.

Who let this man out without a health warning? Dressed in a dark sports jacket, which he filled to the brim, formal black pants that contributed nothing to hide the muscled thighs underneath and a navy shirt without a tie, he epitomised what Samantha thought a Greek god should look like. She wiped her palm on her skirt and swallowed at the sudden dryness in her throat.

When their eyes met, her body tingled and heat suffused her face. The unconcealed want in his gaze clamped her chest in a vice and sent her pulse rocking. Breathe Samantha, this is no time for thirty-eight-year-old attorneys to consider playing cougar. Besides, he is your client’s husband, for heaven’s sake. She forced air into her lungs and her mind cleared a little.

He stuck out his hand. “Pleased to meet you, Miss Owen.”

BRENT'S LAW by Ylette Pearson is available from Totally Bound

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Making SAPS Sexy

With the Oscar Pistorius trial shining new light on the frequent failings of SAPS's homicide detectives, what better time to read about another, better aspect of South African law enforcement?

Yesterday my first release from Samhain Publishing hit digital shelves! SECURE TARGET is a romantic suspense featuring a sexy South African super-cop, a member of the Special Task Force, SAPS's elite tactical unit. Hailing from the Western Cape, Afrikaans-speaking Sergeant Bronnik Mason finds himself halfway around the world as he pursues an evasive serial killer. He’s sworn to bring him down at any cost, but when it comes to safeguarding the killer’s next target – beautiful Lacey Cross – Bronnik realizes this case could put his professional boundaries to the test.

This book was inspired by my first-ever trip to South Africa, and is set partially in Cape Town! I hope it paints a slightly more optimistic picture of South African law enforcement than we usually see in the news. Read on for an excerpt and all the links you need to find Bronnik and Lacey on the web!


SECURE TARGET is available now! From Samhain * Amazon * Amazon UK * Barnes & Noble * Kobo * iTunes


Excerpt:

Lacey wasn’t particularly tall—maybe about five-five, Bronnik estimated—but when she emerged from the bathroom in her running shorts, he suspected at least half of that must be leg. With her thick, shiny hair pulled up high and a tight tank top completing the outfit, he briefly wished Hardy would choose a victim who was less likely to give him inappropriate dreams.

“Let’s go,” he said gruffly, preceding Lacey into the corridor. The Beretta was strapped to the inside of the windbreaker he’d worn over his T-shirt, and he touched it lightly as he checked the hallway.

“We’ll take the back stairs.” He put his hand on her elbow, moving in near enough that her hip brushed his thigh. Keeping her close to his side was an essential safety measure, but he found the intoxicating, fruity scent of her shampoo irritatingly distracting.

When they turned a corner in the hallway, a stout, older woman in a blouse and long skirt came trudging toward them. Bronnik slid his left arm across Lacey’s back, pulling her tightly against him.

His right hand tensed in readiness to draw his weapon as they approached the woman, at whom he smiled broadly.

She returned his smile and continued past them.

“What are you doing?” Lacey whispered hotly, wriggling at his side. Satisfied there was no threat, he let her go.

“Hardy loves a disguise. In Italy he dressed as an office cleaning woman.”

Lacey’s expression was indignant. “I could feel your gun,” she spat.

“My apologies,” he replied dryly. “Next time just let me know which weapon you’d prefer I use to defend you against a serial killer. I could ask the front desk for a free toothbrush?”

Lacey crossed her arms sulkily, which he chose to ignore.

The hotel’s fitness center was a small room at the top of the tall building, with a handful of cardio machines and a single rack of weights. One wall was composed of floor-to-ceiling windows, which the treadmills faced, however the view was only of the roof of the low-rise strip mall across the street.

Lacey hopped on one of the treadmills and plugged in her earphones. Within seconds she’d cranked the machine up to a speed he had to admit was impressive, and he could just make out the sound of the music pumping from her iPod.

Bronnik slipped off his windbreaker and arranged it on the treadmill’s control panel so the Beretta was concealed by the jacket, but its butt emerged slightly into easy reach. The gym was empty, and the combination of the darkness outside and the fluorescent lighting inside gave the window in front of him a degree of reflection, so he could see if anyone came in the door behind them.

As satisfied as he was going to be, he punched a brisk speed into the machine and began to jog. Although the doctor had cleared him to return to exercise two months earlier, he still felt a slight tugging at the scar on his left side. He cursed inwardly—it seemed like there was no aspect of his life Hardy wasn’t intent on screwing up.

He rolled his shoulders, willing himself to loosen up, to step away from the tension and paranoia for just a minute. He thought about the ocean-side path where he ran in Cape Town, a strip of pavement between the road and the sea. Luxury sea-view high-rise apartment buildings lined the far side of the road, but on the path there was only a railing between the sidewalk and the rocky coast. Outside the snow had finally stopped falling, and he focused on remembering the salty sea air that often gusted over that railing. Waves crashing against the rocks, flocks of birds alighting from the scrubby trees, the muted tap of his footfalls in the early hours of the morning, the hours when all of the crime and violence that marred his beloved homeland weren’t yet his responsibility, and he was free to run, to revel in the raw, unapologetic beauty of South Africa.

He was so consumed by his thoughts, he almost didn’t notice the slight movement on the roof of one of the stores in the strip mall—but just as on his morning runs, on some level he was always alert to danger. He squinted into the darkness, one hand resting on his weapon, when the glint of metal in the dim light of a distant streetlight set alarm bells clanging through his mind.

“Down, down!” he shouted, and tackled Lacey to the floor just as the bullet hit the window.