Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Open Letter to Dog Owners, Apparently Robbers Don't Like ABBA, The Durban Promenade

Today I feel like venting a bit.

But only under the first topic.

Promise ;)

Open Letter to Dog Owners

Oh the fantasies I've had of shutting up that damn dog for good...

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you will know that I love animals. No exceptions. I will cuddle almost anything (Portuguese Man of War excluded). I work in wildlife film-making and spend my days lovingly staring at footage of cheetah cubs and the odd lemur.

And pets? Love them all. Will feed anything.

But I cannot stand a barking dog.

To clarify, I'm not talking about the necessary bark at a stranger or scary smell. I don't mind a yip of excitement at an owner returning home, or even a sad howl every now and again.

I do, however, make a vow to buy a paintball gun when I find myself awake at two in the morning because the neighbour's dog has been barking for half an hour straight. For no reason at all.
Do you seriously not hear that? What is wrong with you?

As a South African, I am conditioned to wake up instantly at the slightest sound or change in room temperature. Break-ins are more than common in this country, so you learn to be super vigilant. If a dog barks, you get out of bed and check your yard. End of story.

If you let your dog bark non-stop, you not only upset all your neighbours (who are now all leopard-crawling through their houses with night-vision goggles on), but you literally teach your dog to cry wolf.
Anything will now elicit a stream of yapping abuse from your furry friend: a car driving by; a bushbaby hopping through the trees; you flushing the toilet.

And in the meantime, I'll just be sitting here, grinding my teeth and dreaming up all sorts of scenarios where I tell you off and/or dye your dog blue to get my point across.

An endlessly barking dog is not a pet. It's a nuisance to everyone, in more ways than one. Control your dog. You brought that animal into your home, and you need to take responsibility for it. You are its guardian and the person it looks to for guidance and boundaries. Be the leader of the pack and teach your dog when it is OK to behave in certain ways.

It's dog ownership 101.

And PS, I am writing this through the cacophony of my neighbour's Cocker Spaniel going off, once again, with no end in sight.

Apparently Robbers Don't Like ABBA

While we're on the subject of break-ins... I have been the victim of various forms of break-ins (from car, to home, to kitchen cupboard) on more than one occasion. 

Some have been scary. Like the time three crooks climbed through the window I had been sitting at only an hour before, and I woke up to my dad charging down the hall like a raging bull, armed with my hockey stick. Or the time a dude tried to break in by removing the roof tiles and climbing into the ceiling, right above the room my mom and I were hiding in. Or the time... 

Then again, let's not continue on this path. All break-ins are scary. 

But some do leave you with a smile or even make you laugh a few years down the line. For example: we got home one afternoon to catch a glimpse of a robber as he was escaping over the fence, a bag stuffed full of my clothes under his arm. A few weeks later, I spotted him in the supermarket wearing MY TOP AND HAT. He even gave me a sassy little pose, to boot.

But my most memorable break-in? When they plundered my husband's car and took the entire CD case with over 50 discs in it. But not before daintily removing my ABBA Gold CD and leaving it on the front seat. 

Wouldn't be caught dead with that, apparently.

The Durban Promenade

Rickshaws and roller-bladers. Vendors shouting obscenities at you. Monkeys running amok amid kids on their skateboards. Surfers heading to the beach and lifeguards frantically whistling and waving their arms. 

The gleeful screams emanating from Ushaka Marine World and the diving club returning triumphantly and then banking their rubber duck in full view of everyone. The surfskiers paddling their hearts out to keep up with the dolphins in the distance, and the massive cargo ship gliding eerily and soundlessly in to dock. 

The sand artists who glare at you if you don't donate anything. 

The reggae band and the accompanying suspicious smoky smells drifting up from under the pier. 

The cocktail bar at the end of the pier, and its patrons who go there specially to laugh at you when your bodyboard thunks you on the head after a particularly aggressive wave between the pillars.

The Durban Promenade. What a poetic place.

Learn to laugh at your misfortune, appreciate the beauty of the place you are living in, and don't be afraid to vent once in a while.

You'll feel better, believe me :)

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Where does all the wonder go?

WARNING: This post is not going to be in the usual three-point style. And it will be littered with links to things I love.

So here’s something I just don’t get.
As a fan of all things fantasy (and therefore awesome), it boggles my mind that I am often categorised and boxed up as 'weird' by a society that lulls children to sleep with stories of armoured dudes climbing up a girl’s ponytail.

Think about it:
How large is the Sci-Fi/Fantasy section in your local bookstore? Not too big, huh? And more often than not it’s hydden in some obscure corner where the lights are dimming and the dust mites come out in full battle mode to fight whoever has dared to disrupt their Hadarac-y world (now fully covering the bottom shelf).
Sometimes we’re lucky and we get a brightly lit - albeit tiny - spot next to the Classics section. But it comes with the price of constantly moving out the way so folks can pass, seeing as this spot just so happens to always be in the middle of the store.
Come on! You’re always throwing theme parties for mainstream fiction books out front with all sorts of crazy displays. Why can’t we sci-fi and fantasy fans get some excitement over here? What’s wrong with a bit of Elderglass or even a nice little warren we can burrow down into?
OK, OK. I get the practicality thing. But still.

So many people are willing to jump up, looking all cool and hipster, and proclaim that they “loooooove” fantasy and superhero movies. But how many of them actually sit through the credits just to see some giant duck or a weird dude being worshipped in the desert
The credits separate the mice from the men.

But should they have to?

Here’s what’s irking me:
Sci-fi and Fantasy fans fall into a subculture that is viewed in the same way as hardcore tattoo junkies and legit 90’s grunge fans. Everyone loves to associate with these cultures, because they think it makes them seem cool and even dangerous (which also baffles me, but still). They like to think that they come off as original and quirky when they can recite the One Ring verse whilst gazing deeply into their beer like they know something others don’t.
But start talking to them about the Underland and Beowulf, and they shut down.
“No, that’s not really my scene… I like The Hobbit, but talking cockroaches are a bit unrealistic…”
Suddenly, they retract. You become weird to them. Your wild imagination and love for 800-year old messengers is a stretch too far. They go back to their little world, having touched the 'dark side' and survived, and looking so much cooler for it.

But why?
Why, why, why?
Didn’t we all grow up with stories of wolves swallowing people whole and pigs building houses? We were all once fully capable of believing someone could sleep for a hundred years, or even wear glass slippers without severing a tendon.
Where did the magic go? What happens to people’s imaginations as they grow older? When do they lose their sense of wonderment? When does something suddenly become too unrealistic? (Just for the record, I hate that word. It kills creativity).

At least a few of us seem to keep the spark alive in our hearts. I am happy to be one of the survivors.

So come to think of it... if you need to dip your pen into the Inkworld every once in a while, before running away exhilarated and bragging to your friends… I guess that’s OK.

But just don’t view our little sci-fi and fantasy world with so much scepticism and scorn. I mean, you once believed in magic beans, for crying out loud!
And while you visit once every few years, why not broaden your horizons a bit and explore the world on the back of a giant turtle?

The wonder is not gone from this world.

We’ll aim to keep it alive for you, from our dusty ill-lit corner, in the meantime.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

My word, it's been a long time!

Er... Hello, I guess? *Hangs head in shame*

Well! It's been a ridiculously long time since I last blogged. I won't bore you with my excuses of failed emigration, triple moving of house and giving away of cat. Let's just say it's been a rough year.
As in Gets-Excited-By-Owning-A-Can-opener-Again Rough.

Long story short, I am now a proud resident of Durban, South Africa!

So far, I am loving the warm water, tropical gardens and scalding hot curries.

Oh! And I am rewriting my novel. No biggie. Just a lot of sleepless nights and more discipline than I bargained for.

Bottom line? I'll be blogging again, just to get away from any actual work.

Keep a lookout!

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Yars, yars. I was interviewed, darling.

The last few months have been completely nuts with us moving to Germany and all. There has barely been a moment's respite for me to have a relaxing cup of tea, never mind blog and promote my book.

But, to update you, I am happy to announce that the writing of the second book in 'The Pages of the Blade' trilogy is well under way! In the meantime, however, feel free to get to know me even better by checking out my author interview on the Smashwords website here.

I'll blog again as soon as I can!

PS wish me luck with my German lessons...

Auf wiedersehen!

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Elves! Elves elves elves!

Alon Shalev is a writer with quite the interesting range: politics and fantasy.
Then again, those two seem inevitably interconnected anyway. Go figure.

I had the pleasure of reading 'At the Walls of Galbrieth' - the first book in a fantasy series focused on elves. Here's my review, as posted to Goodreads:

Fast-paced and dynamic, I found this story very exciting! Seanchai is quick to evolve and I can completely understand why Alon won an award for this book - this elf captures the imagination of every day-dreaming teenager. Well, at least the type of teenager I was.
I have to say that I would have liked a bit more meat here and there (the bonds between characters forged a little too quickly for my liking) and I often got lost in regards to the setting.
But all in all, an engaging read. My favorite part (writing wise)? The fact that the characters have these complicated and exotic names... and then there's Uncle. Creative!
If you are looking for action without having to trudge through seventeen chapters to get to it, this is the perfect fantasy book for you. You're thrown right into it on the very first page.

Check out Alon's blog here:

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Super Twisted Short Story

I just read a short story by Richard L. Foland, called 'At What Price'.

Now, if you are looking for something short, interesting, and slightly futuristic (with a lot of twists), give this a go! Here's the description:

In 2012 Alexander Vernick killed his fiance after someone proved she was stealing from him. That person then turned him in and he was arrested and tried. He managed to get off but has spent the better part of a decade looking for the person who ratted on him and he's found him. Now he can have his revenge. But what price will he have to pay another ten years down the line?

Need more info? Here's my review:

Wow - the imagery really got me going! I can see this book successfully be extended into a full-length title, no problem. Richard manages to describe scenes and even futuristic objects with ease. I am a big fan of authors who are able to capture atmosphere - well done! I have to add that I got lost once or twice and I would have liked to know more regarding the details of the big twist, but I really enjoyed it. Even completely forgot about my cup of coffee (a rare occurrence).

Visit Richards's blog to get to know him!

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

I got my first review!

Oh, happy day! I am so excited! Woke up this morning to my very first review for my fantasy novel, 'The Unsheathed Key'.
It was posted by a reader named LostLigeia on - rated 5 stars!

Here it is (sic):

'Thrilling and imagenative! “The Unsheathed Key” is one of those books, you cannot put down anymore, once you start reading. Captivating story, authentic characters, attention for the detail and here and there a hint of subtle humor - All this makes this book a nice piece of work and the perfect book, to forget about everything else for a while. Yurika KotzĂ© tells us a story about the classical sides of good and evil in a fictitious world, but there is a lot more behind her words than just a simple story…
I am waiting for the next one!'

>Blushing profusely<

Thanks, LostLigeia; you have made my day!

*** To learn more about 'The Unsheathed Key', go to my author site and click on Titles. An excerpt from the book is also available ***