A Momentous Occasion!

A batch of paperbacks for Monkey’s Wedding arrived today!

Now I can finally send the book to my brother, Garth, who lives back home in South Africa. He’s been waiting for a copy for twenty-two years, ever since I told him I was writing a book about us. A book that started out as a memoir (and ended up as a mystical, political, historical, family story, with him as a fictional character). You can read about it here.

“Where is your book,” he’d ask in every letter over the years. You could almost hear his slow deliberate way of talking coming through his barely legible text. The couple of years he spent in that small classroom at Frederick Knapp School with all the other “slow” kids in Nkana, Zambia, where we were raised, hadn’t taught him much beyond his letters, which in his dotage has regressed to mostly scribbles. Soon, I would tell him.

It wouldn’t have helped to tell him about all the near misses Monkey’s Wedding had gone through on its way to publication. From being picked up by an agent to a near miss with Time Warner Publishing, to enthusiastic interest from the editor of Harper Collins (until she had to get smart and back off from this niche title that didn’t promise a big payoff). Nor could I have told him how I’d relegated Monkey’s Wedding to a fantasy of being a #1 NYT bestseller (the newspaper clipping I pinned to the wall with Monkey’s Wedding’s blurb pasted over the top bestseller at the time now brittle and yellowed).

“Maybe they will never publish your book,” he finally wrote a year ago.

I’d come to the same conclusion. His health was deteriorating. This was the guy who wasn’t supposed to live past twenty anyway. It was time to fulfill my promise to my brother. I would self-publish. I had the book professionally edited and set about researching the whole self-publishing route. But it was hard giving up my dream of having the book published by an agency. I made one last mad dash and submitted Monkey’s Wedding to Kindle Scout–the American Idol of publishing–with hope in my heart, yet believing that there was no chance in hell my novel would get selected.

Against all odds, Monkey’s Wedding was selected by Kindle Press for publication (of the Kindle), along with more popular titles like Necrospect, Cowboy Sanctuary, Devil’s Glen, Trapped in Love, Eternity Prophesy. Books so unlike Monkey’s Wedding it’s laughable. And wonderful.

With the might of Kindle Press/Amazon Publishing behind me, I went ahead and self-published the paperback. Garth will finally get his book.


5-Day Positivity Challenge–Day 1

Karen Hogenauer, my chassis-shaking, booty-bopping friend tagged me to participate in The 5-Day Positivity Challenge. For five days, I have to write three positive things about my life on my Facebook wall, as well as tag three friends to do the same. I’m going to run with this. For one thing, I have so much to appreciate, and for another I’m going to use this as an opportunity to get back into blogging. For all those people I tag as I go along, you DO NOT have to blog, just post on Facebook.


Here goes:

1. The way the sunlight illuminates my bonsai Horton-Hears-A-Who Bottle Palm in the morning, (no, it’s not really called that, I just made up the name–looks like those trees in Dr. Seuss’s book, don’t you think?).

2. Whole Foods $1 oyster sale yesterday. Yess!! Only thing, I didn’t have any fresh horseradish, and the brine was missing.  Maybe it was because the guy shucked the oysters and then placed them on ice, which melted by the time I got to them that evening, drowning the oysters. Next time, I’ll eat them right away.

3. The War on Drugs song, Lost in a Dream.



She Writes, She Reads, She’s Off Again

Can’t chat for long my computer crashed five days ago saved most of it bought a Mac haven’t a clue got a reading next week up in Berkeley with my She Writes Press sisters did the whole {pages} thing on Thursday night remember the cool bookstore in Manhattan Beach it was cool very cool not many people though they all had to be on the freeway took Dawn another SWP author and I two hours to go 58.8 miles made us late for pre-reading dinner at Little Sister that anti-fusion restaurant across the street from {pages} Holy Moly was that the best ever I’m going back shitty traffic and all and I will sit there and eat everything on the menu SWP in LA Meanwhile it’s the first day of summer and you know what that means in Laguna Beach; cars creeping up the canyon past my house while I sit here all smug, well, a little panicky, so much to do, along with cooking up a very bold plan for publicizing my book. )Getting great reviews.)


The pic’s  from {pages} I’m the shrimp in the middle in case you didn’t know

Moving Forward

As I move forward with getting my memoir, Loveyoubye out into the world–my book launch at Laguna Beach Books over a month ago, and the reading in Santa Barbara last week–I’m realizing just how powerful going through with the publication of Loveyoubye has been.  I’ve crested a steep hill and found the view expansive, welcoming, the light a little brighter. I’m discovering a whole other side of myself. Writing my memoir was cathartic and healing. To paraphrase Linda Meyers, “I drew upon layers of my consciousness and discovered more of my true nature, my essential self, and became transformed by the process.” But it’s in publication that I claimed my story and set it free.

This Saturday, May 17th, the next step in my journey awaits. I’ll be at The Avid Reader in Davis with fellow She Writes Press authors, Judith Newton, (Tasting Home, a memoir), and Jessica Levine (The Geometry of Love, a novel), to talk about the diversity and power of the She Writes list, and to reflect on the reality that more women are writing for public consumption than ever before.

In addition to reading selections from our books, we’ll discuss the ways in which women’s lives and stories are as central to history and culture as those of men. I’m going to focus on today’s memoir as the modern version of traditional storytelling, especially women’s memoirs, the good ones, the ones that enrich us in some way, beyond the events of the story. I think of this as duende, which actually means having soul, artistically speaking,  a heightened state of emotion, expression and authenticity, the spirit of evocation.  Bella Mahaya Carter said it best: “The more you look inward, and the more you share what you see and know, the greater the gift.”


“Breathe,” my friend says. Good advice for me these days as I prepare for the launch of my memoir, Loveyoubye. It’s taking place in just three days at Laguna Beach Books. Check my website or the Event Listing in Patch.com for details, and join me.

Judging by responses to the invitation from people who know me, the celebration promises to be a blast. For those curious about the book, check the online article from an interview I did with Randy Kraft of the Laguna Beach Indy.

Writing a book is work, but talking about the result is some (kind of scary) fun! If you know me, you know I love eclectic music, and (tomorrow) Tuesday April 8, at 8:15am, I’ll be on Laguna Beach’s own radio show KX.93.5 talking to host, Tyler Russell.

Hope you can check out some of these previews, and join me for wine and appetizers and book talk this Thursday at Laguna Beach Books!


Speaking My Truth

I do my best thinking hiking up and down the hills of Laguna Beach, my adopted city. This afternoon, I’m heading up that one hill that parallels Laguna Canyon Road near my home with my Staffies, Fergie and Jake. Got a lot on my mind. The hill is steep with fabulous views of Catalina and sunsets. It was up one of the higher hills I figured out the meaning of life. Okay, maybe not the entire meaning of life, but certainly some key elements, along with insights regarding my marriage and plot points for my two African-based novels,

The hill is steep with fabulous views of Catalina and sunsets. It was up one of the higher hills I figured out the meaning of life. Okay, maybe not the entire meaning of life, but certainly some key elements, along with insights regarding my marriage and plot points for my two African-based novels, Monkey’s Wedding and Mine Dances. Today, the publication of my memoir, Loveyoubye, Holding Fast, Letting Go, and Then There’s the Dog, is on my mind. It’s coming out April 8, 2014 from She Writes Press and I’m freaking out. Me in the public eye, giving readings. In front of people.

I stop on this one flat area with the remains of a house, and watch the dogs chase a rabbit. It was my Jazzercise buddy’s comment the day before that I could be on Oprah that set me off. Totally unlikely of course, but it sent me running to my dark place, the one where I’ve already spent some time anguishing over the actuality of putting my life out there. I got over it, well, more or less, when I sent the manuscript for Loveyoubye to the publisher. But now the real deal of going public is looming.

It’s Sister Damian Marie’s fault. She’s the one who gave me this phobia about being in front of a group, adding to my good South African children-seen-and-not heard issue. That time she sentenced me to an entire week of standing in front of her class at St. John’s Convent School in Nkana, Zambia. There I was on display below the banner she had strung above the blackboard–“To Thine Own Self Be True”–all because of that excuse letter I wrote for myself. I can still feel my smirking classmates’ eyes bore into me.

“I guess I never got over it,” I tell the dogs, and we continue up the hill. Of course, if it weren’t for the American Sisters of Saint John the Bapist nuns who came to Nkana to school us heathens, I wouldn’t be here in Laguna Beach. Them with their rich slangy accents, their inviting American scenes plastered all over our bulletin boards, their art projects, and their sometimes unconventional ways. That’s what had inspired me. Despite whacking us over the knuckles with rulers, their rigid religious beliefs and disdain for us, they fed my curious nature. At twenty-three, I left Africa and years later I made it to Laguna Beach, capital of the unconventional. This is where I finally became an artist and a writer.

This is where I wrote my memoir, a process that took me back to Africa and reconciliation with my African self, bringing me full circle. I glance around still able to marvel that I’m here where I want to be. Sister Damian Marie pops into my mind and I grin. Her with that damn banner strung above the blackboard, her always pointing at it like it had to mean something to us. Hell, all we wanted to do was survive her class. Now it has meaning for me. In the coming months I’ll think of Sister Damian Marie’s banner and I will survive being in front of the class again, but this time understanding what it means to be true to myself. I will complete the journey I began when I started my memoir. Reading out loud, speaking my truth, I’ll take one more step to the authentic self I aspire to be.

Latest News on Monkey’s Wedding

About a week ago I posted the first chapter of my Young Adult novel, Monkey’s Wedding on Jukepopserials. It’s a site where you, the reader, can read for free books, stories and serials, every genre possible. For authors, it’s where they can upload their chapters and ask readers to vote on them, with a cash prize going to the most popular works in fiction and nonfiction categories.

The reason I’m doing this is to test the waters, see what kind of response I get. No matter what though, I will get this bloody book published before I die. I already announced I was going to self-publish not too long ago. But then the events that prompted my memoir, Loveyoubye, interfered and I shelved the idea. I’ve had some heart-breaking near misses with getting Monkey’s Wedding published by a traditional publisher, agent and all; you can read about my travails here. I also want to get the sequel, Mine Dances out into the world, a coming-of-age for the sixteen-year-old white protagonist (there’s also a black protagonist).

These two books were my first tribute to Africa and the African boys and men who worked for us. So. Here I am trotting it out for your perusal. Whatever the reaction, I shall be publishing both books within the next year. Hopefully, my memoir, Loveyoubye, will give both books a leg-up in getting a little bit of notice.


My memoir, Loveyoubye, is due to be released by She Writes Press on April 8, 2014!

loveyoubye_Cover 19Sept2013.inddNot a good rendition of the cover, it really doesn’t do it justice.

Sweets in bed

And here’s Sweetpea, the dog in the story, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, love of my life and a major player.


Loveyoubye describes the beginning of the end of my twenty-five-year marriage and my healing journey home to South Africa to help my younger brother who has special needs. It is a story of life transitions, parallels, and journeys. It is also a love story for my dog Sweetpea, and reveals the unbreakable bond between humans and their pets, along with the grief of losing them. It is a story of revelations; Sweetpea was a vital emotional link in my dysfunctional marriage. With her letting go, I was able to as well.

Getting Closer to Publication

It’s Celebrate The Small Things Day. Something I’ve achieved each week, no matter how small. If you’re interested in doing the same thing sign up here at Vicki’s blog. But before I launch into my celebratin’ I want to thank Vicki for having created a way for me to keep a hand in blogging while I sort through what is turning out to be a crazy-making journey to getting my memoir Loveyoubye published.

What I want to celebrate today is getting to the end of the second round of proofs. It was grueling, because I really want it to be mistake-free. Sure, the manuscript has been proofed by a professional, but hey, everyone makes mistakes. And now this second round is up to me (a friend helped). So there I was scouring every page for misplaced commas, correctly hyphenated words (“black-and-white eight by ten”–is that right?), missed corrections, spacing between words.

This time the photos had been inserted. Very weird actually seeing parts of your life on the page. Maybe that’s what made me come undone (again) at the thought that in just six months, me and mine are going to be . . . <gulp> Out There.

Okay, let’s get back to celebrating. That friend I mentioned above who helped me proof Loveyoubye . . . She loved it! The first pair of eyes other than my reader, my editor and SWP to read my story. Whoo-ya!

Lots To Celebrate

It’s Celebrate The Small Things Day. Something I’ve achieved each week, no matter how small. If you’re interested in doing the same thing sign up here at Vicki’s blog. The idea is to post the blog on a Friday, but I’m doing it today, Thursday, because I’m taking off for the weekend.

What I’m celebrating is completing yet another couple of steps in getting my memoir, Loveyoubye, ready for its March 2014 publication. All of a sudden there were deadlines. I had proofs to finish, photos to copy and convert, and I also had to indicate where I wanted them in the manuscript. Then I had to come up with “comps”–books/authors that are similar to mine in some way–for booksellers to figure out what shelf it would go on.  I truly didn’t have a clue. So, I threw it out to my publicist (Gawd, that sounds hot, doesn’t it? Yes, I hired a publicist, one of the best decisions I’ve made) and bless her brilliant little heart, she came up with some doozies, in like half a day. Check ’em out:

  1. Follow My Lead: What Training My Dogs Taught Me About  Life, Love, and Happiness–Carol Quinn (July 2011)
  2. The Wrong Dog Dream: A True Romance–Jan Vandenburgh  (April 13)
  3. When A Crocodile Eats The Sun: A Memoir of  Africa–Peter Godwin (April 08)
  4. Falling: The Story of A Marriage–Alexandra Fuller  (March 12)

Next step was to send letters to famous authors asking them to please blurb my book, you know,  Loveyoubye is brilliant, honest, painful, funny and real, that type of thing, which will go on the back cover. It’s a long shot. That took coming up with tweaking the synopsis of Loveyoubye, a different angle. Those summaries are killer.

Oh. And then there’s the cover. I just got the final version back. Drum roll, please . . . I LOVE IT! Be prepared, it’s kinda wild.