Monthly Archives: June 2018

Meet Nuzo Onoh – the Queen of African Horror

 Nuzo Onoh is a British writer of African-Igbo heritage. Popularly known as “The Queen Nuzo 3of African Horror,” Nuzo was born in Enugu, in the Eastern part of Nigeria (formerly, The Republic of Biafra). She experienced the Nigerian-Biafran war as a child refugee, an experience that has influenced some of her works. She first came to England as a teenager and attended The Mount School, York, (a Quaker boarding school) and St Andrew’s Tutorial College, Cambridge, from where she obtained her A-levels. She holds a Law Degree and a Masters Degree in Writing, both from The University of Warwick, Warwickshire.

Nuzo has been championing the alternative horror genre, African Horror, and has featured on multiple media platforms both online and offline, promoting this unique horror genre. She is included in the reference book, 80 Black Women in Horror and her writing has also featured in multiple anthologies. She has written several blogs for Female First Magazine and has also given talks at several events about African Horror, including the prestigious Warwick University Law Society.

A keen musician, Nuzo plays both the piano and guitar and enjoys writing songs when not haunting church graveyards and the beautiful Coventry War Memorial Park. Her book, The Reluctant Dead (2014), introduced modern African Horror into the mainstream Horror genre. Her other books include Unhallowed Graves (2015) The Sleepless (2016) and Dead Corpse (2017). Nuzo has two daughters and a cat, Tinkerbell, and lives in Coventry

What is the title of your most recent book? Dead Corpse (published 31st October 2017). Dead Corpse is an occultic story of supernatural possession and vengeance. It follows the lives9781909484870_cov2.indd of three generations of medicine-women. Ọwa is a diminutive, albino woman, who suffers years of abuse and ostracism from her community because of the pale colour of her skin. She comes from a long line of medicine-women, high priestesses to the earth deity, Aná. Her mother is the late Xikora of the Leloole curse, a powerful medicine-woman whose name, even in death, still strikes awe and terror in the twelve villages and beyond.

Ọwa lacks the ruthlessness of her late mother, Xikora, and is treated with contempt by the villagers, who confuse her gentle nature for weakness. Until the day her only daughter, Aku, is kidnapped and murdered for ritual purposes by “The Fat Man”, a corrupt politician protected by the village chieftain, the police and the witch doctor. Ọwa turns to the Earth Goddess for justice. Suddenly, an entire village awakens to the deadly fury of a powerful medicine-woman, as the dreaded Xikora returns to wreak her special brand of justice on the people responsible for her grand-daughter’s death.

Based on the true plight of African Albinos, Dead Corpse is a ghost story of betrayal, vengeance and redemption.

What are the most challenging aspects of being a writer? And the most rewarding? I think any writer’s greatest challenge is to keep writing despite everything – sickness, divorce, loss, depression, bankruptcy or whatever else that life throws at one. Ours is a solitary work that requires the strongest of discipline to keep plodding on regardless. In my case, the most rewarding part of writing is when I finally type “The End” after completing a book, in spite of my personal challenges. Nothing tastes better than that celebratory glass of wine.

What does it feel like to be a pioneer writer of African horror? How did you get Nuzo 2started?  When I started writing African Horror, there was nothing like my work in mainstream horror. We had some South African horror writers who didn’t necessarily write African Horror or classify their work as such. As mine was an unknown work, I realised it was vital to create a brand before thinking of approaching publishers or agents. So, I set up a publishing company and started publishing my books. I also started promoting the genre with aggressive media publicity campaigns, using various professional book publicists at significant personal expense to get the word out. Thankfully, now, all that work has paid off and I find myself referred to by numerous reviewers as “The Queen of African Horror.” Better still, there are now a few writers who use the term, African Horror, to classify their work. I am proud to be the first African Horror writer to feature on Starburst Magazine, the world’s longest-running magazine of cult entertainment, as well as the first African Horror writer to feature as a guest speaker at the upcoming Birmingham Horror Con in October 2018. My works have also featured in numerous horror anthologies and podcasts and I’m in the process of pitching to traditional publishers, now that I’ve successfully built the brand.

And can you tell us a bit about your publishing company? My publishing company is Canaan-Star Publishing. It’s a paid self-publishing company of Print-on-Demand (PoD) paperbacks/ebooks. We undertake every aspect of the publishing process from personalised book-cover design using licensed images, to formatting, ISBN assignment, worldwide distribution and registration with the British Library. We don’t offer unpaid editing work and expect manuscripts to be publish-ready. We offer authors two separate book-covers to choose from and the entire process from the signing of the contract to their books getting published is approximately 6 weeks. I started out initially publishing my own books but have since branched out to publishing writers from all over the world, including authors who were previously traditionally published but trying the self-published process.

Please Visit www.canaan-star.co.uk for more information.

What is your top tip for an aspiring writer? Always repeat the mantra: “It’s only a matter of time.” If you have a story to tell, tell it, regardless of who likes it or hates it. Your characters want their stories told, that’s why they came to you as their mouth-piece. Don’t let them down because you’re upset nobody’s buying your book or believing in you. Persevere, believe and trust that one day, the world will wake up to your words. It takes a split second for your destiny to change. Don’t sabotage your success by giving up too soon. It’s only a matter of time.

What are you working on at the moment? I’ve just completed my next book, A Dance for the Dead, a 92,000-word novel of betrayals and ghostly vengeance. I am now polishing it off with a professional coach with a view to getting it traditionally published. I’m also writing some short stories to pitch to various online publications.

What do you like to read? Anything that grabs my attention, which isn’t always horror works, although I have a partiality for Japanese ghost stories and writers (Yoko Ogawa, Murakami, Koji Suzuki, Otsuichi, Ishiguru etc). That said, my all-time fav books are Gates of Fire by Steven  Pressfield and The Godfather by Mario Puzo.

Where can readers find you?

Website: www.nuzoonoh.co.uk

Twitter: @nuzoonoh

Goodreads: goodreadscomNuzo_Onoh

 

 

 

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Words we owe to Africa.

Next week I am excited to have the ‘Queen of African Horror’ on my blog, talking about her work. As a tiny warm-up act I’m doing an African themed blog today. First, here’s a small selection of words in English that we all know, but don’t necessarily realise have an African origin.

Africa_map_sunset_motif

  • Banana
  • Banjo
  • Chimpanzee
  • Impala
  • Jumbo
  • Macaque
  • Okapi
  • Safari
  • Zebra
  • Zombie

 

 

And here are a few African proverbs that I think might include a lesson for the aspiring writer of any genre or nationality.

Wisdom: The fool speaks, the wise man listens. (And takes notes – could come in useful for a piece of dialogue one day)

Learning: You learn how to cut down trees by cutting them down. (Good writing comes from practice, practice, practice…)

Unity and Community: If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. (Join a writers’ group to help you achieve your goals)

Friendship: Show me your friend, and I will show you your character. (Good tip re developing the synergy between characters in your story)

Money and Wealth: Do not let what you cannot do, tear from your hands what you can. (OK so maybe you aren’t going to write a best seller straight away. But that’s no excuse for not writing anything)

Love and marriage: Love has to be shown by deeds and words (Remember – show not tell, at least most of the time).

Patience: To run is not necessarily to arrive. (No point writing 5,000 words a day, if they are rubbish and not publishable)

Food: Words are sweet, but they never take the place of food. (Very few authors can live on what they earn from their writing …)

Good words are food (… but it is very satisfying to try!)

That’s it for today. I hope you will be brave enough to join me next Thursday (28th) for a journey into African horror.

My Links: Amazon author pages:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00RVO1BHO

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00RVO1BHO

 

 

 

Meet author Pamela Q. Fernandes

Pamela 1Pamela Q. Fernandes is an author, doctor, and medical writer. She writes romance, speculative fiction, and Christian nonfiction. She is also the host of The Christian Circle Podcast. You can find out more about her at her website: https://www.pamelaqfernandes.com or reach her on Twitter @PamelaQFerns. She is currently giving away 10 free ecopies of her book on Facebook.

 What is the title of your latest book, and what is it about? THE MILANESE STARS is a romantic heist. It’s about the robbery of a set of pink diamonds also called the Milanese Stars. On the two sides of this romance are Vita, a barista, and Samuel, an insurance fraud investigator.

 What are the most challenging aspects of being a writer? And the most rewarding? Finishing the story is challenging for me. I have so many ideas and so many things that I want to write. Making the time to write it all is hard. I’m a physician and a medical writer too, so managing the time to get it done is tough.

Reader’s feedback is a big reward. I use books to escape and if somehow I’ve provided that for others, it makes it worth it. There’s nothing better than seeing how much people enjoyed reading your work.

 How did you get started on a heist idea? I remember reading about the Museum Heist at The Hague. The thieves pulled off a heist worth 12 million and their plan was flawless. So much so the security cameras and armed guards saw nothing.  It got me started on the idea of a heist, and then the story of pink diamonds emerged. Since I write romance I thought, why not marry the two?

And can you tell us a bit about your publishing process? In January 2017, I sent my manuscript toPamela 2 Touchpoint Press. They got back to me a month later with feedback from their reading team. They liked the story but there were problems with the book which they were kind enough to detail. I was asked to revise and resubmit.

By May 2017, I’d done the best I could with my manuscript and sent it back. A month later it was accepted and we went through multiple rounds of edits by September 2017. Almost nine months later, once everything was in place, I had a publication date for June 25th  2018. Yay!

What is your top tip for an aspiring writer? My top tip would be to submit a lot. You won’t know what’s wrong with your work until you let people see it. I didn’t start getting published until I started collecting rejection slips. I submitted short stories to anthologies, magazines, websites, small presses and indie houses. They have all given me tons of feedback.

When Touchpoint press first saw THE MILANESE STARS, they suggested changes. There were detailed suggestions on what was not working re the flow, the action, and the characters. I wouldn’t have known what was wrong with the story until I submitted. I’d submitted to several publishers, one of them wanted it as is, without royalties, and I had to turn them down. I believed in the story and knew it would find a home then. So submit your work. You’re going to hurt over every critique but trust me, its worth it.

What are you working on at the moment? I am currently editing my women’s fiction, Painting Kuwait Violet with Solstice Publishing. My first edit has come back from my editor in a sea of red and I’m slowly working my way through it. I’m also writing another romance and I have five more pages to hit the end. The last fifty pages are always the hardest. I’m not kidding, I am literally dragging myself across the finish line on this one.

 What do you like to read? I’m quite a voracious reader. I will read everything I can get my hands on. I did the Goodreads challenge last year and read 175 books. My target was 60. I like reading romance, self-help, science fiction, and mysteries. I’m currently reading Fingerprints by the Gods by Graham Hancock. It’s about how sophisticated civilizations existed before 4000 BC and how they’d mapped the universe, the earth and synodical revolutions of Venus. It’s fascinating.

Tempted to find out more about Pamela’s new book? Here’s her synopsis of THE MILANESE STARS:

The heist of the decade and yet, no one would have guessed… it was her. 

The Milanese stars are missing from the famous Buccatino boutique. When American insurance investigator, Samuel Keane is called in to liaise with the polizia, he finds the whole heist odd. Not only are the Milanese stars, a set of five pink diamonds, not listed in the inventory of stolen items, worse, none of the surrounding owners or passersby witnessed a thing. 

Samuel is anxious to solve the case and partners with local café owner, Vita, who has a very good vantage point to watch Buccatino. Vita herself has quite the interest in Samuel. He’s a decent man, not to mention delicious, and he’s smart. But the last thing she wants is to be caught. After all, Vita has planned the heist for years. Five to be exact. The only thing she didn’t plan is falling in love with the young American. 

As Samuel digs further into the history of the stars, he discovers Vita’s friends and her physically challenged sister are all connected to them. He learns of Vita’s past and the loneliness she’s resigned herself to in an effort to protect herself from loss. Samuel also learns Don Giovanni, proprietor of Buccatino, is no ordinary man. He’s a local Mafioso and will stop at nothing till he gets the stars. 

The more Samuel investigates the more dangers he and Vita face. Can he solve the case and what will happen with Vita? What will he do when he learns the heist of the decade isn’t about stealing pink diamonds… it’s about settling the score

Pamela 3

 

To get the book on Amazon, go to: https://amzn.to/2wQkULy

 

 

Dangling Participles.

I don’t want to get too personal, but how do you feel about your dangling participles? Do you reel back in horror at the sight of them? Feel there’s a time and place for them if used wisely? Or wonder what on earth I am talking about?

If you are in the last group, a dangling participle occurs when a clause in a sentence relates not to the noun or pronoun that follows it, but to one in a previous clause. As in:

‘Mary thought Mr Brown was a misogynist and she vowed she would never work for him; then again, being a woman, he probably wouldn’t employ her anyway.’

Sometimes a dangling participle will cause confusion, but few readers of the above sentence would assume that Mr Brown is female. Being a woman obviously refers to Mary.

Many style guides disapprove of the use of dangling participles. John Humphreys, in Lost for Words calls their use a ‘hanging offence’ (pun, presumably, intended) because they are ugly and can mislead the reader.

Hamllet ghostBut who could improve on Shakespeare’s phrasing when the ghost in Hamlet tells his son that:

“Tis given out that, sleeping in my orchard, a serpent stung me”?

No words are wasted, and everybody knows it is Hamlet senior who was sleeping in the orchard, not the serpent.

Dangling participles are not necessarily good or bad. The only test for their use is that, when the reader comes to the end of the sentence, is the meaning clear? On the evidence above, I would say that Shakespeare definitely passes.

Links to my Amazon author pages:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00RVO1BHO

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00RVO1BHO

 

 

Am I Bad Enough to be Good?

I didn’t know until recently that some publishing houses that are inserting ‘morality clauses’ into their contracts, a phenomenon that has apparently been growing since the rise of the #MeToo movement. Publishers, it seems, are worried that if a writer is found to have behaved badly, it will affect not just sales of their own books, but the whole publishing house.

Nicola Solomon, of the Society of Authors, is worried. She cites one publisher warning an author against any acts that indicate ‘moral turpitude.’ That is, they must avoid upsetting the accepted standards and feelings of the community through their life-style, or they won’t get a contract.  This despite the desire to shock the reader into re-appraising agreed norms (think Updike, Kerouac, Winterson) being, says Ms Solomon, the reason why some authors put pen to paper, and why many readers buy their books, in the first place. (And aren’t we all told to write about what we know?)

There are plenty of writers and poets, generally regarded as good – not to say great – who have been the staple of school and university reading lists because they have the ability to combine writing compelling original prose or poetry with original thinking. But how many of these would pass the ‘moral turpitude’ test if it had been applied when they were looking for a publisher? Here are just a few who might fail:

Virginia+Woolf

Bust of Virginia Woolf

Charles Dickens – cruelly cheated on his wife (as did VS Naipaul on his – many, many times)

Patricia Highsmith – anti-Semite.

Virginia Woolf – anti-Semite (which included most of her husband’s family) and snob.

Philip Roth – sexist

Philip Larkin – racist and alcoholic

Samuel Taylor Coleridge – drug addict.

Lord Byron – where do you start?

George Eliot – defied the accepted norms of her time by living openly with a man she was not married to.

Even writers for children have not been immune to the conflict between writing engaging books that children love, whilst being really quite unpleasant in person roald 1and to their families.

Roald Dahl – a sexually promiscuous misogynist, racist, bullying liar, (and that’s just his wife’s opinion).

Enid Blyton who was so busy writing her children’s stories she had no time for, or understanding of, her own children’s needs.

What all these ‘bad’ writers have in common is the ability to touch the lives and minds of readers, and to encourage them to read more. How much, in these more sensitive times, should a reader be deterred by knowledge of a writer’s questionable behaviour off the page? We will never know if publishers get in first with a rejection letter. What will we lose if we can only read works by those who are pure in thought and deed? A lot, thinks Nicola Salmon.

And me? Would my sales improve if I was a better person? Or am I not bad enough to be good?

You can check this out by going to my Amazon author page where you can often download one or more stories or anthologies for free.

solstice logo (1)

Planning a launch.

When my writers’ group put together an anthology recently we planned a launch for the beginning of March. We:

  • Ordered extra copies
  • Booked a table in a local bookshop (who put the date in their Facebook calendar)
  • Talked about it on our own blogs, Facebook Twitter etc.
  • Mentioned it (more than once) to friends
  • Organised a press release
  • Had a slot on local radio
  • Put the date in our own diaries to make sure we turned up to do our stint on the sales.

What could possibly go wrong?

Well, the weather could! On the Friday it snowed. And snowed …

By Saturday morning roads were impassable so the bookshop owner couldn’t get in to open his shop, and most of us couldn’t get there anyway for the same reason. All that could be done was to ask the radio to mention the event was cancelled.

At the next meeting, we decided to hold another launch at the end of May. After all we still had the stock of books, and boxes of sweets, we had ordered for the original date. We dutifully put the date in our personal diaries. Job done.

Except it wasn’t of course – we didn’t double check it was in the bookshop diary until the last minute (it wasn’t, but as the date was free we could still go ahead, minus their advance publicity). No one thought to notify the local press and radio, and I wasn’t the only one who didn’t do any promotion via Twitter, blog and Facebook.

As a result we spent a pleasant hour chatting to each other, eating all the promotional chocolates, and selling one anthology to a friend of mine who’d wandered in for a slice of the truly delicious home-made cake sold at the bookshop, and felt sorry for us.

Maybe we wouldn’t have sold out if the event had gone ahead in March as planned and promoted. But we’ve learnt a few things about the consequences of not doing the preparation properly from our May effort.

anthcov2However, better late than never. If you’re tempted to buy a copy of this gently humorous anthology, Stories to Make You Smile, here is my link. It is an enjoyable read, ideal for lazy summer days on the garden lounger – and I’m not just saying that because mine is the first story you come to.

myBook.to/StoriesSmile

http://amzn.eu/5i4b5mh

 

 

PS: If you have any good ideas for making a launch go with a bang (and some good sales), please share.