Just keep reading

Just keep reading

“Readers are not sheep, and not every pen tempts them.” ― Vladimir Nabokov

Instagram changed my reading world. For a few years I barely read, bored with the romance I had been addicted to my high school years and somewhat removed from what was available out there (again I am going to say that the why is for another day). When I opened my Instagram account I didn’t really know what it was all about. And then I discovered the bookstagram world. I have now read more in one year than in a few past years combined.

As an aspiring writer, one of the writing tips, I have seen repeated by all, is to read, read and then read some more. And it is true, reading has changed my writing, improving it and left me inspired and motivated.

I have discovered three authors, who I had not previously read, who have influenced my writing the most over the last year. Firstly, Sally Andrew – she is a local South African author whose writing I fell in love with. Besides for her humour and distinctive writing style, her writing made me realise how much I love the local flavour that is so unique to us and how I not only want to, but need to, incorporate it into my own writing. Secondly, there is Jackson Pierce – she has awakened my love for fairy tale retellings. I love seeing the old stories we know and love in a modern setting. And lastly, Magnus Flyte – his… ummm their books have inspired me with their novels with a YA feel but for adults. Definitely a genre of writing that I see my work falling into.

As part of my moving forward, I have also decided to start writing book reviews. I never thought about it before, the importance of book reviews to writers, and then I found myself in a new habit of seeing interesting books on Instagram and then going and checking the reviews on Goodreads. I was astonished to realise that even bad reviews promote an author’s work. Reading and writing go hand in hand. Without readers there would be no writers.

“I can’t write without a reader. It’s precisely like a kiss—you can’t do it alone.” ― John Cheever

Mystery Blogger Award

Mystery Blogger Award

Dawningmoon has nominated my blog for the Mystery Blogger Award! Thank you for your support and the nomination. What a lovely surprise it was. And a big thumbs up to the creator of this award, Okotoenigma .

Award Rules:

-Put the award logo on your blog

-List the rules

-Thank whoever nominated you and link to their blog

-Mention the creator of the award and link it to their blog

-Tell your readers 3 things about yourself

-Nominating between ten and twenty bloggers

-Notify your nominees by commenting on their blogs

-Ask your nominees five questions

-Share a link to your best/favourite post that you have written

3 things about myself:

  • I am a great believer in love but feel that way too many people restrict themselves by having too strong an idea of who the perfect person for them is, from looks to personality and even location. With billions of people in the world why assume the perfect person for you lives in a certain radius from you. A person should fall in love with their eyes closed, fall in love with a person’s soul not how they look in yoga pants.
  • I love to travel and have an extensive travel bucket list but at the same time I love to be able to stay home and be left alone to do my own thing, no visitors or distractions. I put this down to my ambivert personality 😉
  • My nickname (at work) is Jillizana – an “Africanised” version of my name.

Questions from the lovely Dawningmoon:

  • Which is a character that you wish to know the most? I would have to say the intensely intellectual Sherlock Holmes.
  • What do you think is the most powerful superpower in the world? In my part of the world politics unfortunately holds all the power. If we are talking the Marvel or DC world… I would have to go with Dr Strange’s mental powers.
  • Which do you prefer: your book or series getting a movie adaptation or a TV adaption? For my current WIP it would have to be a movie adaptation. I would love to see it brought to life on the big screen and can even picture the actors and actresses who would fit the different characters perfectly.
  • How do you visualise your book? From the original concept to its current, it has grown and changed on many levels. It has evolved from a flirty romance to something much deeper and darker with a lot more depth.
  • What inspires you the most? People inspire me. Their individuality and quirks. All the little things that makes a person who they are.

Here are my five questions:

  • Which book has influenced you most in life and why?
  • If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
  • If you could time travel, where/when would you go?
  • Who is your favourite character, book, movie or tv?
  • Which is the one word in your vocabulary that you use excessively?

Here are my ten nominees:






the spinningpen






My Favourite post so far:

Novelist vs Tinkerer

And just because I love a good quote:

“Fun is one of the most important – and underrated – ingredients in any successful venture. If you’re not having fun, then it’s probably time to call it quits and try something else.” –  Richard Branson

Progress is progress

Progress is progress

“There are many ways of going forward, but only one way of standing still.” ― Franklin D. Roosevelt

Wow. It has been a while since I last posted. The last six weeks have been hectic on so many levels. Once again my writing has fallen to one side, only temporarily at least. Well, the actual physical process of sitting down and putting story to paper.

Yesterday I read a blog post by James Boyle (@alifewellwritten) who quoted “Writing is not typing. Writing is thinking, researching, contemplating, outlining, maybe with some typing, then revisions, deletions, additions, and setting the project aside and returning afresh; typing is just a minor transaction in between two vast thought processes.” reminding me that even though the word count of my work in progress has not increased, I have put in a lot of other work on the story itself.

During this “writing break” I spent a lot of time contemplating the direction the story is taking and am now very excited about a newly conceived plot twist which will take my story to a whole other level. I have done some outlining and lots of research. Does it sound like I am making excuses for not putting words on paper to you?

That is what I was starting to think as well, that I am just making excuses for not actually writing. But then the gentle reminder that writing is a process. Last night I went through all my notes and research and was left feeling motivated and inspired.

All I will say is keep writing, whether you are sitting at a keyboard tapping away or scribbling notes or scouring the net for information, progress is progress.

“Progress means getting nearer to the place you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man.” – C.S. Lewis

The book lover’s dilemma

The book lover’s dilemma

“Read, read, read. Read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it.” – William Faulkner

I cannot think of a time that I have ever not finished a book which I have started, always pushing through to the end…until recently that is. My first read for 2017 made me seriously think about the reasons behind finishing a book which provides no enjoyment at all. As I painfully pushed through to the last page, feeling an actual physical sense of relief once the last page was read, I questioned my sanity. This author is one of my favourites and I have read many of his books but this particular one? It was torture to read.

Many of the authors we look up to emphasise the importance of reading as part of our growth as writers. Raised by a family of book lovers my love of reading is natural, possibly even genetic. Even if I did not have a passion for writing I would remain a bibliophile. In my younger years I stuck to favourite authors and genres but as the years have passed and I have matured I like to try out different genres and authors, especially books which are recommended by fellow bookworms.

This weekend I picked a book from my tbr pile, got comfortable and started reading. By the end of the first chapter I was irritated and shaking my head. I looked at the pile of books on the counter with longing, wishing I had chosen something else. I put the book down, staring at it, questioning myself as to why I feel like I have to finish it. So I closed it. Put it to the bottom of the tbr pile and chose something else. No regrets.

My inner writer contemplated what it was about the book that I did not enjoy. The characters? The storyline? The actual style and quality of the writing? I am very open minded as everyone enjoys different things. If we were all the same the world would be a very boring place. Even if we stick to our favourite genres and authors there is still the possibility of disappointment, and possibly worse, we could miss out on something different and amazing. So a question – As a writer do you mainly read the same genre as you write or are you open in your choices?

The book lover’s dilemma… have you ever stuck with a book that wasn’t doing it for you? Do you always finish the books you start, or are you able to just let go, shut the book and put it out of your mind? Let’s confess in the comments!

“I don’t care if a reader hates one of my stories, just as long as he finishes the book.” – —Roald Dahl

Shared Post : “Actively Pursuing Your Muse: How to Work and Live Like a Writer Instead of Aspiring to Be One” — Novelty Revisions

I have not posted anything in too long so I decided to cheat a little and share this blog post by Novelty Revisions. It is great! An inspiring read for us all.

Want to be a writer? Move beyond dreaming.

via Actively Pursuing Your Muse: How to Work and Live Like a Writer Instead of Aspiring to Be One — Novelty Revisions

Returning to myself

Returning to myself

“If you feel lost, disappointed, hesitant, or weak, return to yourself, to who you are, here and now and when you get there, you will discover yourself, like a lotus flower in full bloom, even in a muddy pond, beautiful and strong.” – Masaru Emoto

The past few weeks I have found myself mentally exhausted by the time I get home, my mind muddied by the stresses of my day job. Not writing as I should has left me feeling frustrated and quite sorry for myself.

This weekend I made a conscious decision to put an end to my wallowing and got stuck into my writing. Not only with my current work in progress but brainstorming onto paper the numerous story ideas floating around in my head. This morning I awoke feeling recharged, inspiration flowing through my veins and feeding my soul.

Realisation: Writing is life. It is what keeps me sane. It keeps me happy. And it keeps me going. Note to self: Never stop writing!

“To give your positive or negative attention to something is a way of giving energy. The most damaging form of behaviour is withholding your attention.”Masaru Emoto

*2017 : The year of Jill getting her groove back*

*2017 : The year of Jill getting her groove back*

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something. So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life. Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it. Make your mistakes, next year and forever.” ― Neil Gaiman

2016 will be remembered as the year I started writing again. It has been a learning experience, taking my writing to another level. I ended the year with a sense of accomplishment – a good portion of the first draft of my current WIP composed and I have completed my degree!

A new year is always started with resolutions, but this year I decided to focus on setting goals and devising a plan on how to get there. Seeing how well a comprehensive layout has improved my writing, I am hoping that my carefully crafted homemade monthly planner can do the same for me personally. It covers all aspects of my life and the goals for each: family and friends, love life, self-love, health, fun and adventure, legacy, career, reading and then of course, writing.

My reading goals are pretty basic – read 52 books this year in conjunction with completing the following book challenge:

  • A debut novel
  • A novel published between 1900 – 1950
  • A book you’ve read before
  • A fantasy novel
  • A book which has been banned
  • A book with one of the four seasons in the title
  • A book with a cat on the cover
  • A Bestseller from a genre not usually read
  • A book involving travel
  • A book involving a mythical creature
  • A bestseller from 2016
  • A book published in 2017
  • A book of more than 800 pages
  • A book purchased on a trip
  • A book loved in your youth
  • A steampunk novel
  • A young adult novel
  • A book chosen purely based on its cover
  • A book translated from another language
  • A book adapted into a movie

As for my writing goals, when first composing the list I felt way too ambitious but luckily I quickly came to my senses remembering that the first step is to set attainable goals.

So my writing goals for 2017 are:

Finish the first draft of my WIP – all the way through.

Do the full layout for the next project

Learn to write like a professional

Develop solid writing habits

Build my brand as a writer

Focus on building the writing career of my dreams

Oh… and NaNoWriMo

So far 2017 has been off to a slow start, recovering from the festive season, getting settled back in at work and the kids at school and finding a new routine that works for us but I remain positive as each little bit of progress will add up to bigger results.

*Wishing all my fellow bloggers and followers a happy and prosperous new year.*

“The only way that we can live is if we grow. The only way that we can grow is if we change. The only way that we can change is if we learn. The only way we can learn is if we are exposed. And the only way that we can become exposed is if we throw ourselves out into the open. Do it. Throw yourself.” – ― C. JoyBell C.