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Jozi Gold > Week 3

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message 1: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (lisadannatt) | 1038 comments Mod
Chapter 23-35

message 2: by Leanne (new)

Leanne Hunt (leannehunt) We are into the third week of the discussion and I am embarrassed to say I missed the opportunity to get things going! Too busy reading another great South African release, but more about that on a different forum. This week's discussion centres around the coming together of all the characters in the novel in an impromptu showdown, at which Jeannie comes face to face with Craig's lover and Walter has to make sure Francis's side of the story gets heard. How does the acceleration of the action affect you as the reader?

message 3: by John (new)

John Mountford (KillMandela) | 735 comments The action missed third and fourth gears and went straight into overdrive! Again, I would have preferred some build-up.
Leanne, was there a particular reason for your writing an intro and a climax together, without a middle to properly introduce them to each other?
I also noticed that the story takes place four months before the World Cup. Why did you choose a World Cup theme as a backdrop to the story and not set it during the footballing action?
These are queries, not criticisms.
I realise now what an important role Francis plays in this whole saga. She is the one that facilitates the climax, not Craig or Jeannie. Most unexpected.
The co-incidences are unpredictable, and the mix of characters unique. It all feels like a true story, adapted for fiction?

message 4: by John (new)

John Mountford (KillMandela) | 735 comments Vicki wrote: "John wrote: "The action missed third and fourth gears and went straight into overdrive! Again, I would have preferred some build-up.
Leanne, was there a particular reason for your writing an intro..."

Sounds like material for your next book, V. How about Ariel invites Jeannie to join her on a trip to the Big Apple - to celebrate Jeannie's new-found freedom. Show her the ropes?

message 5: by John (new)

John Mountford (KillMandela) | 735 comments Vicki wrote: "Vicki wrote: "John wrote: "The action missed third and fourth gears and went straight into overdrive! Again, I would have preferred some build-up.
Leanne, was there a particular reason for your wr..."

True. Learning how to disguise it is the trick!

message 6: by John (new)

John Mountford (KillMandela) | 735 comments I take your point, Vicki.
However the first rule of fiction is not to write autobiographically. It clouds our objectivity as a writer. If we are to write about our own experiences, we should place them in an entirely different story with characters that are well removed from the originals. That way we communicate our own truth, but not our own story. Rather write an autobiography if you want to tell your own story to the world. My opinion.

message 7: by Leanne (new)

Leanne Hunt (leannehunt) John wrote: "The action missed third and fourth gears and went straight into overdrive! Again, I would have preferred some build-up.
Leanne, was there a particular reason for your writing an intro and a climax..."

John, your observations are very valid and should have been noted by the person to whom I sent the manuscript for editorial review. Then again, I may not have followed the advice. At the time of writing, I didn't have a plan to publish and was simply creating the story against the backdrop of real-time news and events. This explains why the story concluded before the actual kick-off, although I must confess, it was never the football so much as the impact on the city that interested me!

message 8: by Leanne (new)

Leanne Hunt (leannehunt) Vicki wrote: "Vicki wrote: "John wrote: "I take your point, Vicki.
However the first rule of fiction is not to write autobiographically. It clouds our objectivity as a writer. If we are to write about our own e..."

Vicki, thank you for your ardent engagement on the subject of fiction and truth. I am fascinated to read that both you and John suspect that this is a true story disguised as fiction. Besides the fact that the community resembles the community in which I live in a general sense — careers, clothes, relationship concerns, etcetera — there are no similarities between the story and real life events. As I said before, I created the characters with specific temperaments and allowed them to respond to the circumstances that arose in their own ways — keeping in mind that individuals sometimes react according to unconscious patterns rather than according to their conscious choices.
As for fiction not being autobiographical, I agree that there are no rules. For some writers, telling their own story in a fictional setting is cathartic because it helps them process deep and complex feelings. Other writers — me included — distill the essence of struggle and blend it with a set of completely original elements. In the latter case, the writer is slightly further away from the story, which enables him or her to introduce thematic emphases and work with symbols. There is also much more scope for creativity if a writer is able to invent stories at will.
If the story of Jozi Gold reads like a true story, it is probably because the structure of the novel moves in a spiral, where each of the main characters has a chance to make a move that advances the central conflict and the whole web tightens as a result. This is how the world works, as I see it. Although we are accustomed to thinking of ourselves as the heroes and heroines of our own lives, we are inevitably pushed and pulled by those around us — and so drama occurs!

message 9: by John (new)

John Mountford (KillMandela) | 735 comments Nice response, Leanne.
You've certainly displayed great imagination in creating a cast of characters and a story that are entirely fictional, yet so true to life. I look forward to your next work.
I, too, prefer to keep my fiction at arms length. The first two novels I worked on were autobiographical, and I dumped them when I realised I was writing for myself, and not for my reader. Too self-indulgent. Creating original characters, and placing them in original story lines and plots, is, for me, the magic of writing fiction. Imaginary people and situations become real.

message 10: by John (new)

John Mountford (KillMandela) | 735 comments Well said, Vicki - an appropriate last word on the subject.

Now, back to Jozi Gold:

1) I like the way you introduce Jeannie, and the reader, to her wild side as she chases after Craig. A deft bit of writing.
2) Why did you have Valery take Billy with? I can see no reason...or will it become apparent in the final week?
3) Craig takes the word 'scumbag' to new heights in trying to slip his hands under Valery's blouse in the midst of all the drama...and with Jeannie present!
4) I did gain some insight, however, into why Craig prefers Valery to his wife: Jeannie speaks to him as if he she were his mother, and he her naughty child:
"Craig. Come back here this instant!"

message 11: by Leanne (new)

Leanne Hunt (leannehunt) Craig has a one-track mind where Valerie is concerned, hence her power over him. A woman's power over a man is something that I was examining closely at the time of writing, and I suppose Jeannie, Karen and Angelica all embody different expressions of this. Vicki, you will probably understand this theme better than John! John, I am by no means a feminist author, but in my world, women's empowerment is a very real issue and something which I believe matters a lot to female readers.
Billy's role in the story has to do with revealing the side of Valerie's personality that is not understood or appreciated by Craig. In a sense, he is the catalyst for her personal growth, just as Karen is the catalyst for jeannie's personal growth. I also enjoyed having a child in the cast of characters because I could have fun with childish fantasy and alternative perspectives on sordid situations. Vicki, this is where I indulge myself — literally packaging part of my emotional need in a character who can enact it fully and unashamedly in the context of the story.
Just going back to the topic of why we write, I am curious to know from both of you: How far are you willing to go with self-publishing? I cannot justify my fiction writing by calling it self-employment because the expense far outweighs the return. Also, the time I put into writing, editing and proofreading could be far more productively spent bringing in an income. Am I right in thinking that both of you have stuck to the e-book format to keep costs down? How have your sales been, and do you expect them to improve over time? Jozi Gold has sold very few e-books, which is why I eventually went the route of publishing in paperback with porcupine Press and distributing to bookstores in SA.

message 12: by John (last edited Aug 17, 2014 07:54AM) (new)

John Mountford (KillMandela) | 735 comments Leanne,
By "e-book format" I assume you mean self-publishing?

I believe that a writer must decide at the outset whether they are writing for a living or writing for self-fulfilment. If for a living, they should approach it like any business enterprise, from the type (sale-ability) of product they produce to the methods of marketing.

I am not writing for a living, which frees me to write what I like, rather than what I know will sell (genre fiction). However that does not mean that I do not intend to make money from my books. Once I have completed my trilogy I will market it as a package, and put all the effort and business know-how I have into doing so then. I shall then go the traditional publishing route; in the meantime, I shall dabble in self-publishing for the experience.

I have sold just under 150 copies of Kill Mandela, e-book and print since December 2013. Not many, but what is more valuable are the thirty reviews I have, and the feedback I have received from various forums, especially Goodreads.

My attitude is that I am still in the process of product development in my writing business; as such marketing and sales are not my priority. Fortunately I am able to finance this stage of my business without having to worry about a return.

What is your primary intention in writing, Leanne? I am happy to exchange some straight talking with you if you like.

message 13: by Leanne (new)

Leanne Hunt (leannehunt) It's really interesting to hear your thoughts on why you write. My own reasons have changed a lot over the years, but when I was writing Jozi Gold, I was really filling time. I suppose it started out as an exercise in self-development, one in a string of novels that I had produced since 2005, but when the opportunity arose to publish through CreateSpace, I began to think of it more as a project in personal growth. I had to set up social media platforms, explore the realm of markets and saleability, and prepare myself to answer questions about what the book meant and why it was important to me as a writer.
I can say that the process of publishing Jozi Gold, first in print-on-demand, then in Kindle format, then in paperback for the SA market, really stretched me as a business person. I was terrified of calling myself a writer when I started, but this year have given several presentations to audiences, including one on radio, and have really enjoyed it. Right now, my attitude is that writing and publishing my novel was a great experience, but perhaps not one which I will repeat. My newfound confidence has taken me into new areas of interest and, frankly, I feel I can achieve more connecting with people in business than pouring my heart into a work of fiction.

message 14: by John (new)

John Mountford (KillMandela) | 735 comments The final showdown at Valery's is surreal, but it does present the opportunity for some real fireworks! It's a pity Paul and Angelica leave so early. I look forward to the final week's reading where we get to see how the main characters in this soapie finally deal with each other's deceptions, weaknesses and ignorance, all under the expert guidance of a psychiatrist and a psychologist.

message 15: by Leanne (new)

Leanne Hunt (leannehunt) Yes, John, the showdown was fun to write, too. Don't worry about Paul and Angelica — they have their own issues to deal with! As for the expert guidance of the psychiatrist and psychologist, let us remember that even the most educated professionals are flawed at some level. This book is about being human when life puts on the pressure.
Vicki, thank you for the vote of confidence. I considered publishing what I had written before, but it's not material I feel particularly proud of. My own journey has meant I've expanded my horizons, so that the "narrow" subject matter of the earlier books feels naive and a bit pernickety. Maybe I will write something else in a year or two — or three or four! Right now, aside from giving talks to promote Jozi Gold, I am just enjoying getting out, going to seminars, learning new things and travelling.
Incidentally, John, your sales are about equivalent to mine. Personally, I find it disheartening but then I don't have a trilogy to plan for. I think Kill Mandela was an excellent novel, full of interesting background detail, and I feel sure that your plan to market all three together when the time comes will pay off.

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