I thought to drop in an extract from the book I am busy on. This is my young readers book by the name above. Take a read and let me know your thoughts or views. . .
The old woman looked down from her hidden position on the side of the hill. She could see the young boys kicking the ball to and fro on the soccer field and on the closer side of the school to her, a group of girls throwing a ball through the netball hoop. Another group sat together chatting to each other leaning against the wall of the administrative building of the school.
She watched them for a while, envious of their youth and energy. Her life had been one of watching and waiting. She was The Keeper. Her job had had moments of anguish and of confrontation with people she had preferred not to have occurred. It had been many, many years now of watching with nothing happening. She felt in her old bones that she was soon to have another confrontation. She thought she had seen them, those she had encountered before. Maybe this was the time.
She sighed and scratched her nose, a slight itch irritating her.
She had perfected the art of camouflage, not being seen by the farm workers, the farmer himself and many of the children when she was but meters away from them.
She gazed upwards to judge the time of day, her white eyes reflecting the glare of the sun. Her body had become old and wizen over the years and her hair had turned white. She had to use mud to cake her hair so that she could remain hidden and so had gotten used to a helmet of dried mud in place of hair she remembered being able to run her fingers through. But that was the price of her position as The Keeper.
She gazed down once more at the children as the school bell sounded and they made their way back to the various classrooms. When the last of them had disappeared into class, she slowly rose, stretched out her back and turned towards the hill. She took three steps towards a clump of bushes and disappeared.
You know what makes an authors life interesting? Being able to go out and research the territory for their book. I had that pleasure yesterday. My wife, Angela, and my one year old daughter, Catherine, got into the car – well, maybe Catherine was helped! – and headed out of town. It was raining so we didn’t expect to see too much but felt we needed to take the trip. Luckily the rain held up once we were out of town.
The amazing thing about Johannesburg is you just have to go 40 minutes west – on the right road – and you are into virgin country. This is the area of the Cradle of Mankind. Beautiful hills, nature reserves with a few sightings of wild animals from the road and some really aesthetic resorts.
We got to the area my upcoming book is being located in, took some shots and carried on driving. Unfortunately it just started drizzling so we did not get much but this opens up the possibility to get more time out of town to continue! But boy, does it help to have that reality on the location so you can close your eyes and think about the roll of the story.
Anyway, we were out of town and reluctant to return too early, so we meandered around, went through the gorge called Hekpoort which is beautiful and found ourselves at a village called Magaliesburg. We stopped at a terrific Country Hotel called Mount Grace for coffee and outstanding and mouthwatering Black Forrest Cake. Now, if you are ever in the area, this is the place to stop for a meal, a coffee or a weekend! Beautiful. On top of a hill overlooking stunning valleys but oh! so green and lush out there right now.
My daughter Catherine loved the place and crawled around at a speed with Angela and I following like two brawny bodyguards.
Then time to head home but we definitely want to take a weekend break at Mount Grace.
I come from a background where estimating and predicting events or developments was a key part of my job. Taking this to heart in a career of writing, I would place research as either the first or definitely a high priority cornerstone to any writing career.
That said, I have been reading and reading and reading what other people say about how to write and produce a novel. A favourite of mine is the book by two US writers and publishers, Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry. Easy to read and very practical, I found “The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published” a real help. There are a number of others that make for good reference material such as the Dummies Guides and Idiots Guides.
From my past experience in research as mentioned above, I would say that anyone else looking to become a writer or in the same position as myself, would do best for their careers by firstly researching how to be a writer. Maybe there are a number of experienced authors out there with a different view or a contribution to mine whom I’d love to hear from. However, it seems total sense to me to know ‘before you go,’ like you would do in any other career. If one wanted to become an engineer, he would study engineering and so forth.
So my main attention now is on research – both on what a writer is, how better to formulate this new career and then also on my first book.
One lesson I learnt in research is that it is always best, although sometimes more time consuming and arduous, to do your own research and rely as a second tier, on other researchers data. It is one thing to surf the net and spend hours in books in the library. This is definitely legitimate research but I would term it second tier. It is, for me, the most adventurous, exciting and rewarding to do it by visiting places, speaking with people, taking pictures and really getting one’s hands dirty in the quest for the information needed to locate the story, develop the characters and define the plot.
Research is an exciting activity, whether on the net or out in the wilds. I think that this is one of the main attractions for any writer. Of course, there is the main activity – writing!