Friday, 9 September 2011

Enhancing the Writer Within by Carlyle Labuschagne

I have always been more of a writer than I reader, but I learnt a little too late what an important role reading has on ones writing.

Amongst the open fields and wildlife of the majestic bushveld I stare out the car window at the beauty that surrounds me. I am twelve years old and I have a need to share what I see and what I feel. That is when I grab the pen and paper my dad has lying in his car and I write my first poem inspired by the intense need to express the overwhelming love inside of me. As a child who grew up during the apartheid era in South Africa many great books were hidden from us.

From a young age I was an athlete that spent way to much time writing poetry, writing in my journal and writing my own songs. Soon the world of gymnastics, figure skating and athletics became of less importance to me as I spent my time creating, drawing and making up music videos in my head. Little did I know that this was part of my writing process. I did not have time to read, the little time I had I spent on writing and feeling accepted by my peers. The idea of writing a novel came one day when my older brother brought home something called a computer. That quickly died when the computer was taken away from me, because I spent late night typing, when I should have been studying.

I met my now husband at 17 and didn’t have that need to express myself with writing anymore.
I was happy and happiness never fuelled my writing then. Soon I went to college, toured overseas and came back to South Africa to further my studies once more.

Nearly 6 years and two kids later I had this sensational feeling in my gut that something was missing. A friend suggested a read a book called Twilight. I frowned at the idea of reading about vampires. I know better now. Immediately I was sucked into this fantasy world. Sure I have read a few books before but this, this was extraordinary. I lived and breathed the saga for the next two month and that pang returned. Something was horribly amiss in my life. I started writing my first draft and almost completed it within three months. I was alive again.

I decided to take a years study course though a writing school at Collage SA, where without it I am sure I would not have become a published Author for 2012. I set the manuscript aside and dove into my novel writing course with great enthusiasm. I always had the greatest imagination and many stories bubbling inside of me. My tutors were excited from my first few short stories and I knew then that I was born for this.

The important thing I learnt about writing is that you have to do it as much as you can, as often as you can. More importantly my obsession for books that I never had as a kid has lead me to improve on my English, to understand the language better. Afrikaans is my first language, so where the English language is concerned I am behind. Reading has quickly become a very important learning curve towards becoming a great writer and hugely satisfying. I cannot imagine life now without reading and writing.

I have created a site where I can share my passions with my readers, my friends and mostly as I said before it is all part of my writing process. But that is not where it ends. I submitted my manuscript way too early. I am impatient like that. The third submission came back with great news and bad news. Bad news I needed lots of editing.

I had written a manuscript and rewritten it once more, did a quick spell check and hit the send button. Oops, fail. It takes more than that. I have learnt though writing groups on Twitter, Facebook and other groups what the process entails. Almost too late but with each rewrite with each revision with each pre-edit the manuscript gets better.

I currently have three manuscripts in the works where number two in The Broken series is undergoing a rewrite, a revision, a second revision and two or more pre edits. I will not be so eager to send an unrevised, unedited and rewritten and revised again and again manuscript off. Sure the publishers saw the greatness and authenticity in my novel, the thing is the editing is taking way to much time now.

So, my advice to a novice novel writer. Write , write , write. Read, read , read. And rewrite.

Happy writing.
Carlyle Labuschagne
Author of The Broken Series

You can connect with me though Twitter and Facebook:!/CarlyleL

Thank you to Clare for this wonderful opportunity.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Sarah James Interview - Part Two

Thanks for coming back. I hope you have all enjoyed the interview so far and the final part is now available to read. Don't stop now!

4. What inspired you to write Midwife Wisdom, Mother Love? What did you want to achieve by telling others about your experiences?

As I said at the start, the birth of my first child, Jack, and the shock of that birth, was a big inspiration. The antenatal classes I taught were also an inspiration. I was amazed at how many women in their early to mid thirties had never even held a baby let alone attended a birth. There was a lack in the knowledge that used to be handed down through the generations. Women are no longer at home helping their cousins or sisters look after babies. Women are at work. Most of the time they dont give babies or birth a second thought until they decide they want a baby of their own, and then all of a sudden they find themselves faced with a seemingly insurmountable learning curve.

I wanted to help women on that journey, in a friendly down to earth way that wasnt going to overwhelm them or make them feel like they were being talked down to or dictated to. I wanted women to know the truth about birth, the things that have made me laugh, the things that have made me cry. Most of all though, I wanted to empower women, wanted them to be confident in their bodies and in their heart so they could choose the birth that was right for them and their babies.

5. You mentioned about two other projects, including another non fiction book that you are currently working on. Please tell me more about these.

The non-fiction book Im working on is a parenting book; its been a long time in the making.

Originally I thought it was going to be a book about breastfeeding and sleep patterns, about babies, but Ive come to realise, as my babies have grown, that there really is no right or wrong way to bring up a baby as long as you are bringing them up with love. And besides that there are oodles of books out there telling you how to do it, something for everyone to identify with.

So with Jack turning eighteen this week I cant believe Im the mother of an eighteen year old (how did that happen?), my parenting book has morphed. Its become more of a philosophy on parenting than a how to although there are definitely how to bits in there. Its a big unwieldy thing at the moment with eight sections all headed with attributes that you would hope your child grows up to have like, independent, creative and considerate and then underneath the headings a theory on how you might gently nudge your child in the right direction. I think I had to wait until Jack was eighteen before I could write this one, had to prove I was capable of surviving the parenting journey.

The other book Im working on is a fiction book called Luka. When I had my babies I was desperate for a girl, I know, you shouldnt be, but I was. Id grown up with two sisters and a mother who I was very close to, I guess I was looking to repeat those relationships. Dont get me wrong, I love my boys desperately and wouldnt swap them for all the girls in the world, but there was just something in me, something I couldnt deny or squash, that wanted a daughter. It turns out Im not the only one out there, its amazing when you talk to women who only have boys, how many of them had been secretly wishing for a girl. So all this got me thinking. What if a boy knew that his mother had been desperately wishing for a girl? Where would that leave that kid? What would his relationship be like with his mother?

Luka is about a fourteen-year-old boy who struggles with all these questions, particularly the one of whether his mother loves his sister more than him. Im on the final edit of this book, hoping to have it out by the end of the year.

I want to start by saying a big thanks to Sarah for taking the time to answer my questions and I wish her the very best of luck with Midwife Wisdom, Mother Love, as well as other projects.

For more details, visit - or if you would like to purchase a copy of this book, it can be done via the following link -

Sarah James Interview - Part One

I was recently given the opportunity to interview Sarah James about her book - Midwife Wisdom, Mother Love. Keep on reading to find out more about this interesting guide for both mums and dads to be.

1. Your book Midwife Wisdom, Mother Love is an excellent guide to help prepare mothers and fathers-to-be for the process of pregnancy and childbirth. Please tell me more about it. What can readers expect to learn?

When I fell pregnant with my first son, Jack, I was already a qualified midwife whod delivered hundreds of babies. I thought I knew everything there was to know about pregnancy and birth, then I had Jack. Birth and labour were a shock, I couldnt believe how different it was to what Id expected it to be.

Lying there in the birth suite with Jack in my arms I remember distinctly thinking that if I was this unprepared, how would a woman who wasnt a midwife, a woman who knew nothing about birth cope? That was when the idea for Midwife Wisdom, Mother Love was born (excuse the pun). I wanted to write a book that was open and honest, that told the real story of birth, no glossing over, no hidden agendas, just the simple truth told from the heart.

Midwife Wisdom, Mother Love is a combination of both my personal and professional experience covering topics such as anatomy and physiology, the ouch factor how labour will really feel, and it includes my four birth stories which range from just short of a caesarean section to a homebirth.

Women who have read the book have told me that its like sitting down with a midwife whos your best friend and having a heart to heart chat over a cup of coffee. What I hope my readers get from Midwife Wisdom, Mother Love is empowerment and a belief in their own heart, Pregnancy and birth is about your heart, about how you feel inside. Be true to yourself. Listen to everyones story but most of all listen to your heart.'

2. If you could provide any mother and father-to-be with a few key pointers, what would they be?

Do antenatal classes, for the insight, but also so your support person feels comfortable and confident. Youre going to need them to be.

Interview as many people as you have to find the right person to look after you during your pregnancy and birth. Take a list of questions and ask all of them, dont compromise, the right person will be out there, sometimes you have to be patient though.

Think of giving birth as the same as making love, its that intimate. Then, when you have that picture in your head, decide who you want at the birth. The one biggest factor influencing your birth is your ability to relax so you need to be extremely comfortable with whoever you decide to have at the birth.

Have a birth plan but make sure its flexible. Dont write it down, instead envisage it as on going conversation between you, your partner and your midwife (or doctor).
Enjoy as much of your pregnancy and your birth as you can, you never know, this could be the last time you do it.

Remember, womens bodies are made for giving birth; you have waited (even if you dont know it) your whole life to do this, embrace it and be in awe at your ability to open and welcome a new life.

3. As a mother of four, is Midwife Wisdom, Mother Love based on personal or professional experience? Or a combination of both?

A combination of both my personal and professional experience. My own four birth stories are in the book, they show you from a very personal angle what birth is like and also help to illustrate how one woman can experience birth in so many different ways.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

The Dead Never Lie - Chapter One

I thought the time was right to share chapter one of my short story, The Dead Never Lie with you all.

Comments are more than welcome and certainly appreciated.


Chapter One

“Why am I here? This was a mistake!” Jennifer Harding scolded herself for a decision that had been made when her judgement was impaired. She hadn’t been thinking straight.

To begin with, he had been very charming and attentive but things soon changed and his true colours began to emerge. She allowed herself to be lured to the house under the pretence of love and affection.

Desperately searching for a way out, turning ever which way to escape his clutches, she soon realised this was going to be an impossible task. Unfamiliar surroundings and an endless maze of corridors were what greeted her.

She recalled her coming of age celebration a few months back. It had involved a hunting expedition with her father. Suddenly, memories flooded back to that lone deer which cowered in a corner, trapped. The fear in its eyes was clearly evident, because at any moment, the final call of death would be brought upon it. Right now, that was how she felt, the helpless prey to an able hunter.

Suddenly, Jennifer’s head snapped up as the unmistakable sound of footsteps that echoed from somewhere within the building. There was no way of working out his position, his trajectory, but one thing was certain, he was definitely on a mission.

“Keep moving, keep moving!” a repeating sequence of words that sounded almost like a motivational chant came out of her mouth.  

Trying to stay one step ahead of the game was difficult, especially as the shadows that bounced off walls appeared to be playing with her.

The room was large, with an impressive array of antiques, but there was nowhere to conceal herself. Like an animal in an open field, she was exposed to every type of enemy. No matter what direction danger approached from, it would get to her eventually.

A sudden flicker of movement by one of the many windows halted her movement and she held her breath. “More shadows?”  

Thursday, 1 September 2011

The City of Lost Secrets by Katie McVay

As an avid reader (you should see my book collection!), I am always willing to give different authors a try. When it comes to choosing a book, I look at what the story is about, rather than who actually wrote it.

When the opportunity arose to review The City of Lost Secrets by Katie McVay, I jumped at the chance because this was something that sparked my interest immensely. That was just from looking at the storyline.

So, what did I think of it? Keep reading to find out, it will be worth your while!

What is the story about? 

When the Talpiot tomb was discovered in Jerusalem in 1980, its unearthing raised a number of questions, as well as controversy among devout Christians. Was it the final resting place of Jesus Christ? Now, nearly 30 years after the tomb was unearthed, novelist Mara Beltane wanted to find out.

Recently divorced Mara had been enjoying a successful writing career, but she started to crave something much more and despite friends and acquaintances being uncertain about her visiting the city of Jerusalem, she pressed on ahead in an attempt to find out more about the tomb, its origin and the inhabitants.

With the help of Dr Uri Nevon, a biblical scholar who had previously visited the Talpiot tomb, Mara found herself experiencing conflicted feelings for Dr Nevon, whilst trying to evade those who wanted to stop her from discovering the truth.

What did I think?

When reading The City of Lost Secrets, I found this had a similar premise to that of The Da Vinci Code, in the fact it referred to the possibility that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene.

This is a book that I could not put down once I started. The characters were memorable and they made me appreciate how far some would go to discover the truth, even if it ended up disproving a longstanding belief.

The dialogue and descriptions of the surroundings, as well as the parts of history being re-told indicates that a lot of research must have gone into writing this story.

Even though the storyline may indicate there could be some romance within it (and in parts, it certainly seems to be heading in that direction), it doesn’t cause the story to stray from the fact there is a mystery to solve.

Overall, I would definitely recommend The City of Lost Secrets and the Kindle edition is available through Amazon for the bargain price of £2.10 / $3.44.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

AiZ: Alice in Zombieland Interview - Part Two

I hope you enjoyed the first part of the AiZ: Alice in Zombieland Interview. Keep on reading to see what its creator Josh Cook had to say about this exciting project.

Alice in Zombieland

5. There are going to be 3 versions of Alice in Zombieland. What are the differences between them?

Yes, there will be three versions of the AiZ: Alice in Zombieland #1 issue. There will be the regular version, which will be sold through the Zombie A.C.R.E.S. Merch Shop and at the Seattle ZomBcon in October.

The second version is the limited ZomBcon Edition, which was available to those who backed the Kickstarter campaign at certain levels, as well as being sold at ZomBcon. This version will be limited to only 200 numbered copies and will never be sold anywhere else. Once they are gone, they are gone for good. The ZomBcon Edition will also feature different cover art as well as a bonus story called Bruce Campbell vs The ACRES. This bonus story will have artwork by Donovan Scherer, the creator of Fear & Sunshine.

The third version of AiZ: Alice in Zombieland #1 is the Backer Edition and is the ultra rare version – only 25 numbered copies will be printed! This version was only available to fans that backed the Kickstarter campaign at the highest levels – plus ONE copy I will be giving away at ZomBcon. This version will never be sold anywhere. Period. Along with the special Bruce Campbell vs The ACRES story and brand new cover art, there are going to be a few other little surprises that I will never divulge. Hopefully you are one of the lucky few who were able to secure your copy of the ultra rare Backer Edition.

I would also like to note that Bruce Campbell vs The ACRES is the very first comic only story from Zombie A.C.R.E.S. and will not be posted online. I have a very short list of reviewers that will get to see this story, but even they will not get the full ten pages. I am extremely grateful to those that believed in this project enough to plunk down a good chunk of change to see it brought to life (pun intended); and I feel they should all get a little something special that nobody outside of Team Zombi will see.

6. Do you have any other projects coming up in the future?

I have many Zombie A.C.R.E.S. related things that I am working on. I will continue to offer the free short stories at, publish more eBooks, and am working on the first Zombie A.C.R.E.S. Zomb-Libs book.

In addition to the Zombie A.C.R.E.S. projects, I am also going to be helping Lewis Cougill from create a brand new kind of role playing game. is going to be home to this unique game of zombies, survivors, and videos. The game is still in the infant stages right now, but you can go to the website to find the rules and the first survivor video. There is also one other project that I may be helping out on, but I have been sworn to secrecy on that one. All I can say is it will be the first short film that I will have a hand in forming.

I am always looking for new projects to start and help out with, though, so I am sure there will be many more that will be popping up in the near future.

7. What can zombie fans expect at the Seattle ZomBCon in October? Do you have anything special planned?

The Seattle ZomBcon will be my first convention ever. Not only the first one I will have a booth at, but also the first one I will have ever attended. I have always been too broke to be able to go out and enjoy the conventions, so I am as excited as anyone to see what is going to happen this year.

As far as Zombie A.C.R.E.S. and what Team Zombi will be bringing to the convention, plans are still being made official. I can say that there will be giveaways, a raffle, free eBook download coupons, Zombie A.C.R.E.S. merchandise, and of course, the AiZ: Alice in Zombieland #1 ZomBcon Edition. Team Zombi is always looking for new recruits to help with events like ZomBcon, so if you love zombies and are serious about helping the indie movement, please visit the ZA Street Team page to find out how you can help.

I would like to thank Josh for answering my questions and I am sure you will join me in wishing him luck with AiZ: Alice in Zombieland.

For more information on AiZ, visit the Zombie A.C.R.E.S website

AiZ: Alice in Zombieland Interview - Part One

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Josh Cook about his latest project, AiZ: Alice in Zombieland. This is what he had to say.

Josh the Zombie

1. AiZ: Alice in Zombieland certainly sounds like an interesting project. Tell me a little bit more about it.

AiZ: Alice in Zombieland is an eBook that will be released in October, along with a five issue mini-series comic based upon that eBook, and is the first Zombie A.C.R.E.S. universe event. The Zombie A.C.R.E.S. universe is much like our own world, with one small difference Roslun Global. This is the largest pharmaceutical company in the world, and the one responsible for the creation of the gated zombie community known as Zombie A.C.R.E.S. (Animated Corpses Reintegration Experimental Subdivision). This compound is used to perfect Roslun Globals death-curing drug. Unfortunately, once one of their experiments escaped and went public, the secret was out, as well as some of the research they have done. This causes a wave of basement scientists to try their own experiments, and ultimately to small outbreaks throughout the world. AiZ: Alice in Zombieland features three people whose lives have been affected by one of these outbreaks Georgia Gee Marie, her younger sister Alice, and Sam Ashe. When Alice is taken, it is up to Gee and Sam to find her before its too late. Without revealing too much, that is really all I can say. Just make sure you visit to keep up with all the twists and turns of this tale of horror.

2. Where did the inspiration for this story come from? Does it have any association with Lewis Carroll's tale?

The actual inspiration for AiZ : Alice in Zombieland came from the characters and actions within the Zombie A.C.R.E.S. universe. Alice in Wonderland was not even in my head when I began creating what would become AiZ: Alice in Zombieland. Fans of the classic may see some slight nods towards it, but AiZ: Alice in Zombieland has no association with or to the Lewis Carroll books and stories. That has already been done, and I did not want to tread on a beaten down path already.

AiZ: Alice in Zombieland is an original event and is not based in a wondrous world of talking animals and crazy cards, but a world we all know and deal with everyday. Alice in Wonderland is an amazing book and Lewis Carroll created one of the most magical stories I have ever read, but AiZ: Alice in Zombieland is something completely different.

3.  Can we expect any of the classic Alice in Wonderland characters to make an appearance in AiZ?

Again, there may be some slight nods towards the classic, but AiZ: Alice in Zombieland will be its own undead beast, with its own mysteries craziness.

4. It is fantastic that backers have helped you exceed the $1200 goal on the AiZ Kickstarter page. Did you think you would get this level of support? Is there anything you would like to say to those individuals who made a pledge?

It is awesome that I have been able to surpass my goal on Kickstarter. I never thought I would even get near that goal. I was prepping a new fund raising plan the day before the AiZ: Alice in Zombieland campaign was over. Thanks to many people really pushing it, I was able to meet my goal with twenty hours left. When I woke up the next morning and saw people were still pledging donations, I cried. When I think of all the support I have received from the indie community, and especially the indie horror community, I almost always well up a little.

The only thing I can think of to say at this point is thank you. Thank you more than I can even say or express. I also ask that everyone who reads this interview please visit the
AiZ: Alice in Zombieland page and visit the sites of all of the backers that have put their hard earned cash on the line for my dream.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Hellraiser: A Resurrection of Terror

If we go back almost 25 years to 1987, this was when Clive Barker first introduced horror fans around the world to his insight on what real terror and real suffering could represent. In this case, it came in the form of cenobites.

Not long after Hellraiser was showcased to waiting fans, it was obvious that it had become an overnight success and this is one film that still manages to captivate audiences, both young and old. I am pleased to say I am one of them.

A number of definitive films have been revived (such as Nightmare on Elm Street) in a modern day setting, but fans of the original Hellraiser franchise may (or not in some cases) be surprised to learn that it is not going to be a remake at all, it will be an entirely different story.

The new film is currently due to be released in 2012 and is going to be directed by Patrick Lussier and Todd Farmer.

For any fellow fans, I have to ask what you think about this change in direction. Is this something that you prefer? Rather than a modernized retelling of the original story?

I personally think that with a good storyline and hopefully what is going to be a reprisal role for Doug Bradley as Pinhead (plus other key characters), it could very easily become another win for 80’s horror classics.