Tag Archives: Bulawayo

To describe, or not to describe…

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When I wrote Silk Threads, I had no preconceived ideas about the setting, because I mostly wanted to write about a person with Aspergers Syndrome.  Obviously the book had to be set somewhere and since hardly anyone knows where Bulawayo is…

However, that in itself creates a problem. Things that are obvious to me, views I see every day, are not so to a foreigner. Take the blue skies! Most days, here in Bulawayo, we have blue skies. Did I mention that, even once, in any of my books? I know I mentioned the heat in October, because even residents notice that!

Another thing I didn’t consider and now, (reading books about ‘how to write books!’)  I’m told is crucial, is my ‘Target Audience!’ Am I trying to sell Silk Threads worldwide, or to people who come from Southern Africa? (I sure don’t have to tell THEM about the sunny skies.) Several people have mentioned that I avoid descriptions and its true, I’d rather the reader created their own imagery. Who cares what the inside of the Academy of Music looks like?All the reader need know, is that it was private!

Below is a picture taken in the Matopos.

Matopos

Anyone who has lived in Matabeleland has been there. I’m guessing, if they had to wade through me trying to describe the Matopos they would certainly put the book down. But how do I describe to a foreigner what the Matopos is like? How do I describe the massive domes, the balancing rocks and that amazing ‘feel,’ the almost magical atmosphere? But I must, because most foreigners have never even heard of the place. At the same time, I must not lose my local audience too!

A picture saves a thousand words! I wish I could add photographs into my books. I’ve tried to come up with similies to describe Matopos! “Rocks split by a giant cleaver…” “Giant boulders strewn by an angry god…” Whatever the descriptive words, they include giant, huge, boulders…But how giant?Matopos

I’ve left the vehicle and person in this photo because it gives some idea how big (and these are relatively small, as Matopos goes) the boulders are.

This is the same ‘kopjie,’ without the vehicle.

Matopos

I’m guessing people in cities judge sizes by the buildings around them! Take this photograph below:

Matopos

How many fifty story buildings would fit into this one? Could I possibly fit a building into such a rural setting, surely the mental image just doesn’t fit? If I said it’s twenty square miles around would that mean anything? Perhaps I should say, this boulder would fit into the lower part of Manhattan from such and such a street…

Another thing I learned from reading books about how to write books, is this ‘genre’ issue…did you know, a ‘Romance’ has to fit a certain formula! It has to have a ‘happy-ever-after’ ending! I guess in our modern world, it can be about a gay couple….so where does Silk Threads fit? Without an obvious ‘hero’ and the ‘romance’ probably unresolved, where does it fit? I thought it was what I call drama until I discovered that drama refers to plays!  How about Saga? Well its long enough!

This morning I noticed a review of  Silk Threads on Amazon! (It was posted ages ago. Ooops!!!) I don’t visit the site very often since I hardly sell any books there. Strangely, Amazon allowed me to reply to his comment! (Last time I tried, I was refused entry as I didn’t have an account??? Duh – so writing a book and putting it on Amazon doesn’t warrant an account?)
Anyway, this is what he said:

I haven’t finished reading the book. From the portion I’ve read so far I think the author is an excellent writer. I have no problem at all with the sex. I’ve read very good erotic literature that is far more explicit than this. I have a minor problem with the plot premise. It’s about a search for a person that has spanned the globe for many many years and now the search has decided to concentrate on the area from which the person originated. Really? Did I miss something? You’re looking for a person and look everywhere on the planet but ‘home’ and now decide to look there? I don’t get it. Not at all logical to me.

Why can’t I finish the book? For me as a guy, ultimately, the book strikes me as a romance novel and for my own personal tastes I have zero interest in romance novels. That is my preference and not a fault with the author. I tried to read one other ‘new author’s’ book and had the same experience. (Though I didn’t think that other book was well written.) I’m sure some can argue this book is different but the periods of Svengali/Pygmalion transformation seemed too long and slow and didn’t appeal to me.

I encourage the author to keep writing. There is a huge audience for this type of good work IMO. I am just not that audience.

It didn’t occur to me, that a foreigner wouldn’t know, that people who left Zimbabwe, in the 1980’s didn’t return! For me, it was obvious Lisa wasn’t in Zimbabwe. She left in 1988 and why would she return, with the country going downhill fast? Inflation of the currency, corruption at high levels of government, currency controls! With European parents and plenty of money to spend, why would she remain in a dump like Bulawayo? And anyway, if she did, someone would know her, Bulawayo is a small place!

Now, with the immediacy of the internet, I not only get to identify that a United States reader doesn’t know that many whites were unprepared to remain in a post-Independent Zimbabwe, but that all my editing of the first part was still inadequate! (For the male readers!)

Of course, with e-books, I can easily change it! Tweek it with a few well chosen words and re-publish. It will only take a minute or two! I won’t change ‘Jack and Jill’ – I’m terrified of losing the anger I felt when I wrote it – maybe one day Il get round to editing it!

What is great, nowadays, are the discussions you can have with your audience. I love it when someone contacts me and we exchange emails about my characters or my plot! And how nice is this guy who hasn’t even finished the book to write such a nice review… AND give me four stars! Its horrid when you see a two star rating pop up with no reasons why the writer didn’t like it. Was it shallow? Confusing? Boring?

As for his last sentence. I’ve decided that I have to get on with my life – writing is an all-consuming occupation. I get totally involved, to the exclusion of all else, and that isn’t really fair to family and clients! And anyway, I’m going to need all the spare time I have to continue with my studies! I have nearly finished with ‘African Cuckoo,’ its only the editing that is required and then I will pack in my pencil, (maybe just keep my hand in with short stories or funny things that occur to me.)

 

Click here, to download Silk Threads from Amazon

Silk Threads

Click here to download A Pale

A Pale

Please post comments on the books here on my blog, or at Amazon.

You can email me at:

forfrankiekay@gmail.com

I love fan mail and discussing my books via email, so please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Silk Threads is free on Smashwords… please download a copy of Silk Threads  here:

Silk Threads

Reckless Gambol, a Silk Threads vignette can be downloaded here:

RG2.

And a copy of Jack and Jill here

Jack and Jill a short story

Please leave a comment on Smashwords

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Bulawayo…

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…is in Zimbabwe, which is in the middle of Africa!

“Skies” or “City of Kings” are nick names given to our hometown! “Skies,” because of the numbers of clear blue days we get here a year and “City of Kings”….well need I say more!

A sleepy, well planned town, Bulawayo grew slower than it’s colonial planners thought possible. As a consequence, we have not seeped at the edges like many other African cities! We have no shanty towns, our parks and other designated green areas remain intact, our wide streets unclogged with traffic.

Flamboyant trees

 

Centenary Park, BulawayoCentenary Park Centenary Park Centenary park

My book, Silk Threads is based in Bulawayo and Johannesburg, and I wanted to say SO much more about my hometown. I didn’t fit it all in so I’ll have to write many more books!

I maintain a blog: https://frankiekayfotos.wordpress.com  where I post photo’s of Bulawayo and the surrounding areas. Please have a look, the countryside is unique and very beautiful.

Now…to me, and a day in my life here in Bulawayo. I live in Suburbs, in one of the very first houses built in colonial Bulawayo. The streets are laid out in even bocks, lined with Jacaranda trees. Typically built on about an acre, we even have the remnants of stables for horses – now converted to servant’s quarters, or what is locally called a ‘kya.’

This is a pic of the front of our house:

Park Road

 

We live here with several people and lots of animals. The people first: my husband (a geophysicist,) his gang of workers and Pio, who doesn’t work for us, only lives with us. His story is on my writing blog here!

 

This is Brighton, our gardener together with Dusty (his favourite of our dogs!) and the survey team marking the spot for a borehole.

Brighton and DustySurvey gangOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAbove is Fa – our handyman when he isn’t surveying for water.

 

We also have dogs, cats, chickens (occasionally a horse, passing through!)

2014-11-04 Dogs Pk RdI love cats…passed and present!

https://frankiekay.wordpress.com/?s=last+post this is a story about Twinks, our little orphan kitten. https://frankiekay.wordpress.com/2013/11/23/vikki/ is a story written by Vikki.

I have written about Bella, pictured below here:

Bella

 

https://frankiekay.wordpress.com/2013/08/05/rip-scar-2/

and, being Africa, a host of wild life is also to be found in our home: insects, spiders, scorpions, lizards and of course birds. Every morning, I wake to the bird songs and have recently planted a line of peach trees outside our window for the fruit eaters among them.

Birds at Pk Rd

This crested barbet comes to our window and beats his reflection up…I took this pic through the glass!

Crested Barbet

I help children who can’t read, or have trouble with Maths or are Aspergers sufferers. This is the room I use:

Park RoadMakes it all much more homely than a classroom!

Shopping Centres….both ends of town!    The lower pic is an upmarket shopping centre, this one  is a bus terminus where you can buy anything from frozen fish, to maize meal; to axes, old drums and second hand tyres!

Rnkini

Shops

 

There is too much for me to fit into one blog post – please browse around my photoblog – and most importantly, my writing blog!

I wrote Silk Threads to introduce people to Aspergers Syndrome through my character Lisa. I thought a novel would be better than a dry text book.

Click here, to download Silk Threads from Amazon

Silk Threads

Click here to download A Pale

A Pale

Please post comments on the books here on my blog, or at Amazon.

You can email me at:

forfrankiekay@gmail.com

I love fan mail and discussing my books via email, so please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Silk Threads is free on Smashwords… please download a copy of Silk Threads  here:

Silk Threads

Reckless Gambol, a Silk Threads vignette can be downloaded here:

RG2.

And a copy of Jack and Jill here

Jack and Jill a short story

Please leave a comment on Smashwords

 

Free…

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My books are free on Amazon today…

Click here, to download A Silken Thread

A Silken Thread

Click here to download A Pale

A Pale

Please post comments on the books here on my blog, or at Amazon.

You can email me at:

forfrankiekay@gmail.com

I love fan mail and discussing my books via email, so please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Silk Threads is available on Smashwords…if you are into BDSM and more explicit scenes, please download a copy of Silk Threads  here:

Silk Threads

And a copy of Jack and Jill here

Jack and Jill a short story

Please leave a comment on Smashwords

Last Post…

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Last Post…

Content warning: If you do not like cats, or if soppy stories give you shingles – avoid this one…

I sneak through the long grass, tummy to the ground moving slowly, slowly, just like a cat. In the very early morning while its still dark, small mice come out, a few insects hop about avoiding early birds and I stalk them. Practicing being a cat.
I’m startled by a noise, I jump, dash away, a squeal of brakes, a blinding light, a flash of pain. I roll over, run some more. I catch my breath near our gate. I’m a little disorientated. Is this our gate?
I have one thought in my mind: I need to get home. I need to get to mum. And not my cat mum, mind you…no, she died at the end of my first life.
Only one of my eyes had opened when a snake slithered into our little cozy nest. A Mozambican Spitting Cobra mum has since told many people. Mrs Raven, my cat mum stood her ground to protect us and the cobra spat, a long spray of burny poison. I happened to be behind Mrs Raven and I was obviously blinking because I didn’t get any on me. My two brothers didn’t fare as well, I’m afraid. The snake struck at Mrs Raven although she puffed herself up and tried to look twice her size.
The end of my second life was when my mum arrived. I know I have laughed at the silly things she says, but now, catching my breath in the flowerbed outside the gate, I long for that “Oh man…look at this poor little thing…”

Twinks
It had been nearly a week since the snake incident, I couldn’t swallow, I was only dimly aware of my surroundings when mum picked me up. I stank of the fish people had tried to feed me and my head plopped over her hand. She didn’t mess about with unpacking the car, or making coffee (which I later discovered is a prerequisite to our continued existence!) She took a dropper and plopped one exquisite drop of milk into my mouth. I can’t describe the feeling – it was oh…liqueur chocolate over coffee, or a quadruple malt whiskey to the drying out soak, or…perhaps water to a man in the desert.
Anyway, I revived pretty quickly and began to hear some of the “Frankie-isms” I so often laughed at in the future.
“Oh man…” said Frankie. “You pong…” and “Yisslike, this little guy is lucky to be alive…”
Although a cat tongue is nothing like a toothbrush, I got “washed” as often as mum thought I needed it, she taught me to lap by stuffing my nose into the milk bowl. She also taught me other more embarrassing things in the sand box.
And then…she crushed up a cat nibble…called WHISKERS – and to coin mum’s phrase “Oh Man…” Cat heaven. It was the beginning of my addiction. It was the ‘gateway.’ I HAD to have Whiskers and I had to have only the variety that comes in the blue bag. I remember once, not long ago, none of the shops in Bulawayo stocked it – I nearly went out of my tiny mind.
Mum called me Twinkle-toes because of my cute white feet and she had many endearing versions…Tweeknee, Twinks or Twee. Some times Eee. Or Eee-ow even Eee-knee. I’ll leave working them out to you…

Twinks
And everywhere that Frankie went, I was sure to go…the first time I went in the car, I thought life number nine had arrived prematurely. Although I was held in the cupped hands of Frank, it didn’t help. I felt quite queezie.
Like all humans, I developed a fascination with water. And it’s everywhere…we humans drink it…

Twinks

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we bath in it, we watch our fish swim slowly round and round the pond in it and we umm deposit in it and here is the end of life number three…
I jumped onto the loo seat to see if I too could use this instead of the smelly sand, slipped on the smooth plastic and plop…

 

Now…
All mum’s have an instinctive knowledge of where their babies are, and mine was no different. Thud thud thud, she runs into the bathroom…
“Oh man..Twee…you narhna. Come on here, silly billy. Whatshathinkyadoing, man?” On and on she soothed while rubbing me in a towel. She laughed at how much like a drowned rat I looked and then blew a hair dryer at me.
She went off and bought cat-litter crystals. “Now these have deodorant, Eee-ow,” she said. So you won’t mind “going” in them OK? And she was right…but that didn’t stop my fascination with water. I too wanted to bath and I hated the way she wouldn’t let me shower, and I hate her loud laugh when I shake my head from the spots landing on me when she opens the shower door…
I need to give you a little background here – we live in two places. In Bulawayo in a house in Suburbs and although I often go with mum places, I knew how to get back to this house, cos here I have roamed since I could jump out of the bed room window.

Park Road

The other place is a house far, far away over a very bumpy road. In order not to repeat the incident with the snake, I remained inside Frankie’s bedroom. I have no need to be anywhere else – I have food, company, water, bed…loo…

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although when mum is about with her camera, I have been known to venture out…

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It was in town I met with life number five… or was it six?. I was walking along the top of the neighbors wall, and NO I was NOT teasing the dog…how was I to know that some clot had put a drum near the roof. How could I know the dog was a staffie cross baboon? Suddenly I was met with huge snapping white teeth drawn back in a most unattractive manner. Nothing like Nandi and her cute pink tongue and “lickie lickie” as mum says…I knew standing my ground and puffing myself up was not going to work, just as it didn’t work for Mrs Raven. I was forced to jump down an ignominious eight feet leaving the slavering beast, both paws over the wall for Nandi to reprimand. I heard her tell him that he had better watch his step, that his territory didn’t even end on the wall, only half the wall, that if he even thought of jumping down she would make mince meat of him. She went on, worse than Frankie, telling him off. Of course Nandi is old and her teeth only half size (I should know) and he is a very young staffie cross. But he hesitated long enough for me to jump into the bedroom window, find Frank’s head and knead… guaranteed to force him out of bed and give me some Whiskers…

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You know there is nothing better than the life of a human…I have a wonderful bed…so comfy and I’m not often disturbed, and if I am…I can give a hint, just as easily as the next guy…

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Like any modern human, I blog. It began with a simple post by another cat living in the UK. “Silly balinkie…” likes to live in a car park – when Frankie read that one out to me, I laughed. Why did he live in a carpark – its cold and wet. (I’m afraid, I can’t read yet…Ive tried, and I’m sure many of you have seen some of my typing efforts: *+-6///fhfj…) so Frankie writes my posts. And I’m quite famous.

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The end of my next life was boring and although pretty frightening involved the car and me sleeping on the wheel. I’d have been dead meat if it weren’t for Frankie and her incessant talking…she turned on the car, put it into gear, rolled ever so slightly, realised she had forgotten something, jacked up the handbrake…it gave me enough time to “bullet” off that wheel and to the safety of “Burronks” or this guy…who insists I’m a cat even when faced with overwhelming evidence to the contrary…He loves me, cleans my coat and is always going on and on about how I must not go out of the yard…

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Another time, in the car, I went to Frankie’s feet for the cold rush of the air-conditioner down there, and she put her foot on the clutch!!!! It’s attached to a long bar, kinda like a French Guillotine…Eeeuw, I only just got my head out from under that thing in time…
This narrative would not be complete if I didn’t describe, or at least post some pics of another milestone. I got “fixed” at the SPCA and it was terrifying, from start to finish. The smells and the indignity of being locked in a cage are indescribable, but as I wrote on my blog…”It had to be done..” I have no wish to ruin my wonderful figure, pictured below…

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It is our gate. I creep in, slink to the woodpile I use for day time suntanning, curl up trying to ignore the pain. I wait for that “Twee. Where are you Eee… Come on Knee knee”
I can’t move. I put my head down again. I’ll try to move “just now.”
Noises. The world is waking up…mum. Her hand stroking me, picking me up.
“Oh Twee. What is this?” She touches the wound on my side.
“She is not purring, Frank,” says mum. “I’m not happy about this. This is a funny wound on her side…I’m taking her to the vet…”

The car…those horrible antiseptic smells I remember, but mum is here…she is talking to the vet..he tells her he will have a look, that he has it all under control. She faffs about the cage, explains that I don’t like it in the cage with the smells of hospital all around, and dogs barking. He shoo’s her out, slips the needle in….ah, relief…this is better than Whiskers.

The world goes all soft and wavy around the edges…I floated away, far away to cloud number nine…

Frankie – there are a stack of happy animals here with your surname you know – I reconnected with Tara, (who until last week lived on the farm.) Also a horrid, pretentious cat called Scar and a beautiful grey horse. But they all need to get in line, cos I’m still tops…

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I’m glad mum has moved on…

The new dog is Rufus…

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And the kittens are Rianna and Pink…

And mum – tell the world I can no longer be found here…I am at double u double u double u dot gone-to-cat-heaven dot com

 

Please have a look at Frankie’s books. I sat right near her most of the time when she wrote Silk Threads and it’s good…

Click here, to download the Amazon version of Silk Threads

Click here to download A Pale

A Pale

Please post comments on the books here on her blog, or at Amazon.

You can email her at:

forfrankiekay@gmail.com

She gets such a kick out of fan mail you have no idea so please don’t hesitate to contact her.

Silk Threads is available on Smashwords…if you are into BDSM and more explicit scenes, please download a copy of Silk Threads  here:

Silk Threads

And a copy of Jack and Jill here

Jack and Jill a short story

Please leave a comment on Smashwords

Charity…

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Charity…

This, ladies and gents, is a story of human kindness, of romance and tragedy. It’s a story of love in a fictional place somewhere in post independent Zimbabwe. Let’s say it all happened in a village called Providence…a little place, fifty or so kilometers from Bulawayo. Read the rest of this entry

Leopards…

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RABSON Dube worked at the wildlife orphanage. He fed the animals, cleaned the cages and helped out around the place. A simple soul, he liked his job. He drank too much, but he swore this helped with his migraines.

Tall, with rounded, barrel chest and powerful arms, the task of carrying meat to the lions and bags of food to the elephant were easy for him. The smell of rotting meat and dung from the animal cages permeated his being, but Rabson didn’t appear to notice.

At night, in a dark alley, this spectre would be scary. His appearance was alarming, mostly on account of his bright red eyes. Inside, Rabson was a gentle soul with cataracts. Son of a scout and brought up on a private game ranch, he was good with animals, understood them, liked to talk to them. In his workman clothes, old overalls, usually open to the waist at the front, and a cheap pair of plastic gumboots he blended into the background, invisible to most visitors to the orphanage. Read the rest of this entry

Best keep it short…

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Chipangali, founded by Viv Wilson is a wildlife orphanage, just outside Bulawayo. I first saw Mr Wilson on TV when I was about seven or eight. I can remember sitting, open-mouthed watching him picking up snakes, explaining all about them in his squeaky voice.

“Well, Ken,” he would say while holding the slithering serpent in his bare hands, showing its amazing fangs.  “A bite from the Gaboon Viper…”

Until then, what I knew about snakes, was that they bite. All of them. All of them were poisonous and all should die. Immediately. Accompanied by a lot of yelling and screaming “Tshiya! Tshiya!” The lifeless body and squashed head should not be touched. It should be held with a foshola or stick on its way to the fire, cos it could still poison you. Read the rest of this entry