It has been a while since my last writing. With so much that has happened the last year, I never really felt to say something specific. As if words failed me. Or maybe it was just how the Lord has worked with me. But it doesn’t matter.
What does matter is that we do as God leads us. On this road of recovery/returning, I am more aware of what I do, and how I do it.
Those who know my path till today know how much of a financial struggle it is to survive. There are days I wondered if I am listening correctly. There are days I don’t stay connected with God as much as I should. There are even days that I miss reading or listening to the Word of God.
Ever since the lockdown has begun in 2020, I knew that many things have changed. Looking for work has ground to a stop, but God has supplied in my needs even then. Small favors of grace, actually.
When the government announced the special grant for unemployed people, I submitted my forms as well. When that R300 dropped into my account, it was like manna, sweet as honey. International writers would request a review and pay me for a blog post and so with every payment, when added with the R300 gave me enough of an income, and faithfully I tithe where God directed.
There was no money for luxuries, but when I needed some petrol or cleaning products for that month, money would be there; either by an unexpected book sale or gift from someone close to me. I have learned to appreciate the small things. It is amazing how much we actually need to survive.
This is not something new to me. Before my return to God, I struggled to earn anything. It was a constant headache and I just never had enough, no matter how hard I worked. With everything I have tried, it never was enough. I was ridiculed, mistreated, in despair, and lost. Even when I started with life coaching, it did not bring in the money I needed.
When I gave the reins back to God, I had to learn again how to trust Him, and small breakthroughs sifted through. Once the special grant was lifted, God provided another way. This time I received a weekly payment for work that I normally do for free. Ten weeks of a steady income really helped me to complete another book and publish it. It gave me enough to breathe easily and instill hope that I will make it. With that, the Lord provided an additional income just to make a life that much easier.
The feeling of elevation when I paid my proofreader or my father is something that only a person in my shoes will understand. It just lifts your spirit. You feel accomplished and good.
Once the ten-week project finished, I prayed again. Worried how I will pay rent or put petrol in the car or pay the few debit orders. And I must admit my faith faltered for a few days. I could not sleep, struggled to concentrate, and just went through the normal day-to-day things, all to still my mind.
During the ten-week work, a person contacted me on LinkedIn about publishing my books on their website. I get these types of emails and requests frequently so did not think about it too much at the time. After I completed the project, I looked at the message again. Investigated the links they have shared and made sure all looks legit. I wrote an email to the person and two days later a reply came back. This time I was really nervous—again, once bitten by a scammer, you are on an edge.
The next email from them offered me work as a ghost-writer, as well. I signed a ten-month contract with them. The timing could not have been better. This month, I received my first paycheck. The last time I have seen that kind of money in my bank account was in 2009 as a full-time employee.
All because I listened and obeyed the promptings God has given me. To say I am grateful is an understatement. I am jubilant.
I am thankful to God for teaching me how to survive with the bare minimum. Everything I have, and where I come from, is only because He is a truth-maker. When I put my hand in his in 2016, God had to remove a lot of the rubbish accumulated over time. Lies and fears of too many broken dreams. He had to build my confidence, renewed my faith, and I had to learn to trust Him.
Through it all, he remained faithful. Like a father who waits for his son to return, God stayed with me even when I pushed Him away. Where my journey will go, I do not know, but in God I know I have a future. Where he leads, I will follow.
Trusting Him came at a price, but it is a price worth paying because He has my back.
As a youngster, I discovered books on the shelves of family members’ homes and became engrossed in the plotlines, the tension and the characters. Later at the school and municipal library that I devoured with keen interest. I was absolutely lost within the pages and could not get to the library fast enough after school.
The very first book that left a lasting memory was about Hiroshima, I was hooked into history for life. Then I discovered Konsalik, a German author, whose translated books lined the library shelves. It was then that I knew I wanted to be an author as well. There were South African authors that too play its part in my life and Ena Murray inspired my very first book, A Pirate’s Wife. I explored the world through its many pages, discovering exciting ideas and beautiful places within these stories.
Reading fueled the desire to accomplish more, to reach for the unthinkable and dare. That is the same characteristics I portray in all the characters of my books. They must think creatively, be free to explore, overcome their fears and take the leap of faith/love. We all need love and romance in our lives, correct.
Books are the backbone of our society. Through the ink, we leave footprints behind: a legacy for those with the same tenacity to dream and learn. It empowers us to get out of our comfort zone and be the person we are meant to be.
Since 2010, I have authored several books (15) and self-published six books of the fifteen which are available in Kindle and paperback. I also teamed up with co-authors and released three books. A fourth release, a daily devotional for believers will be released in this year.
My newest release was on 31 March 2021. Love at War is a Christian military romance that touches big issues: women and child abuse, abuse in military camps, the question about abortion, divorce, abduction, forgiveness, letting go of the things that hold us back and much more. It is packed with adventure, action, turmoil, faith, Christian values and questions, with a great character cast. There is no fluff in this book so do not be fooled by the romance part.
Books from the author
A Pirate’s Wife. Do not judge a book by its cover.
# What is/are the real-life story(ies) behind your book(s)?
Each book has a story. Most of the lessons I tell is from my own experiences, those of friends and family in a fictional setting. Our emotional and spiritual growth is peppered with many questions because of hardships we encounter. Usually it comes from choices we have to make when we face a problem, either by our own creation or what others did to us. Through all these decisions lies a fine line of making the right choice. Sometimes we make the wrong choices which can have a backlash or work out.
I don’t write fluffy things but touch real issues that deals with these lessons.
Blood Mines for instances originated after an uncle and aunt lost their farm because of acid mine water in their region. I wrote the story in the future genre where this environmental problem has grave consequences on the entire county. It is my way to highlight the seriousness of this problem South Africa is facing.
Bella’s Choice touches the alternative lifestyle many follows. We read about menage and BDSM but in real life it leaves devastation and heartache. Anabella has to get past this lifestyle and make her own path. She faces a hard time as her parents; her protectors do the unthinkable. This book comes from a time I had to face certain things in my now failed marriage. The havoc it caused in my own life is a story for another book or two.
Love at War developed over ten years. Ten years of grueling pain I had to face and overcome in my own life. Sonia Main is the character that underwent a lot of changes in her life in a brief span of time. During this alterations she was forced to make choices that would brand her as an outcast. Though it is an easy read the subject I touch is difficult. It has many pages that takes you from South Africa to war torn South Sudan, heated Iraq, picturesque Malta, and a free America in a heartbeat.
Curt McGee is the second main character that is challenged with his own decisions. Because he is a high-ranking military man a greater obedience is expected.
I wrote the two Afrikaans books, GedagteKringe and Juweel van die Oosgrens with my fellow South African reader in mind. Through GedagteKringe I wanted to reach out to Afrikaners and wrote short stories, articles and motivational pieces I have posted to my Afrikaans blog over several years.
Juweel van die Oosgrens is a historical roman that plays out during a very hard time and I wanted to bring the romance back into this harshness my people experienced.
# What inspires/inspired your creativity?
The lessons I have learned, my experiences and the people I meet inspires my creativity. I am not a big talker and tell my side of the story to make myself heard through the words I leave in print. This is my way to connect with what I want to say through the many characters I create.
Not only do I fancy the writing but what attract me most about self-publishing is that I learn all the other sides about books. Like designing a book cover, writing blog posts, printing, layouts etc to connect with readers worldwide. It has broaden my view about life and the difficulties we face as I search for solutions. It keeps me on my toes and I enjoy the journey immensely.
I also love to impart this knowledge to others so I am always busy reading and studying to better my skill.
# How do you deal with creative block?
I don’t really have time to have a creative block. Because I am so busy it gives me time to get more creative. In my dealings with people I have a never ending source of topics to write about. When I act as judge during competitions it adds to the ever growing well of knowledge.
# What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?
In my experience there are two big mistakes you have to avoid.
Unqualified proof readers and trusting the wrong people for advice is a big no-no. This gave me endless nightmares in the past, and I have become very picky who I trust.
This is the reason I am always reading and learning. If I don’t know, I learn.
You need a qualified proof reader for every book. This is not a step you can miss. Never!
Rather wait or save more money to afford a person before you trust the first person who says he/she can do it. Ask around, make enquiries. Do not throw your money around. Gather enough information before you act.
# Do you have tips on choosing titles and covers?
To me book titles comes in two ways. As I write the story, the name will just ‘pop’ up like with Bella’s Choice. Other times I really have to play with words. GedagteKringe means all my thoughts in a nutshell, basically. All the stories are from my life, stories I have written during competitions, motivational pieces I have written for the blog and articles about certain topics. The name brings it all in and emphasizes this thought process.
Ask yourself what the story is about and what genre it is. this will guide you to the name like with Blood Mines and Love at War. I asked several people about it before I made the last choice.
In the beginning I left the book covers for others. I didn’t have the knowledge or the tools to create it and had to buy them. I even won a book cover through a competition I entered a while back. You really get outstanding talent out there.
The last two book covers designed with the help of Canva. I struggled with the initial concepts, but once I got that the rest was easy.
# How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?
In the beginning, it devastated me. I did not understand what a book needed. I did not know about beta readers and proof readers. Had no grasp of grammar and sentence construction. It was a wake up call when I received my first review. I almost stopped completely.
It was then that I realised I cannot rely on family to help me. I needed professionals. I tread water for a long time, and money was an issue, so I really had to dig deep and wait. It paid off at the end and I can proudly say I truly understand all aspects of books. It was a rough learning curve and I am far from an expert, but I can call myself an author with confidence.
# How has your creation process improved over time?
Once I could afford writing classes, I began with creative writing courses. I wrote for competitions where people would guide me to better the story. I read books–lots of books in different genres to understand the different point of views. I studied at every turn and became better with each writing piece. This is the reason I call myself a multi-genre author because of everything I do. I am not afraid to write in a new genre. From fictional to non-fictional, I have learned to put my thoughts on paper with ease.
# What were the best, worst and most surprising things you encountered during the entire process of completing your book(s)?
I never thought that books would be so fulfilling. It gives me the freedom to grow as an author and person and I can apply my learning in each book I write. My characters become my mouthpiece, and I feel accomplished with every book that is published.
The worst part is marketing and the technical side of it all. Sometimes I simply do not know how to move forward in this area and become tired when I do not get the results I want. With each book I really have to force myself to advertise. It does not come easy. Luckily Amazon and Facebook makes it easier with marketing and I get the hang of it each time.
When I began my website I really had an enormous struggle ahead of me. I had no one to go to for help. I did not understand about short codes, plugins and all the others things that makes a stand out website. I made a few mistakes and ended up taking a Word press course to understand it all. But there are still times I wish I can afford to pay someone to take it to the next level. It is a never ending learning curve for sure.
# Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two and how?
A little of both: it is about personal satisfaction and serving the reader. It is important to have a balance. This is the reason I am always learning. The life coaching course I took last year gave me a better understanding of life choices, thought process and the impact it has. This gives me a clear understanding of every character’s thinking.
My personal growth in my Christianity gives me also some food for thought and I like to portray that in the stories.
# What role do emotions play in creativity?
Emotions sets us apart from any other living thing on earth. Whether or not you are a good person our emotions governs us. It controls our decisions and reason for doing things. These reasons can be wrong for the one and right for the other. Our different viewpoints make us unique and it is the reason our creativity grows. Once we understand this it is easier to navigate in life.
# Do you have any creativity tricks?
Not sure I fully understand this question but for me learning is the best way to tap into my creativity. This and my connection with God. Ever since I made the commitment, I found a new depth in my writing. I write with greater ease and my thoughts are clear and to the point.
# What are your plans for future books?
I have already written five books in a series and must begin with the proof reading part. It is a series that has its origins with my son that left South Africa to find a better future in America. When I began the first book I never thought it would escalate to a series but the book had so many stories to tell that it ended up in five books.
On the side I am also busy with short stories, about 15k words each. These are stories that flow from Love at War. There are so many characters that left a lasting expression on me I want to tell their stories as well.
In between I do translations, freelancing and ghostwriting to pay for my daily expenses.
# Tell us some quirky facts about yourself
My connection with God is important.
I have three grown-up children and two grandsons.
I am in a relationship.
I love coffee.
I read – a lot. I read any genre, especially thrillers and historical.
I like to travel–especially the off-the-beaten-track routes. I also like to explore the many mountain passes in our country. You see landscapes and meet people true to the land which inspires me tremendously.
The purpose of the architect is to produce a design that has considered the weight, the pressure, the strength, the environment, and other usage factors that would lead to a successful structure. If you plan it right with a pencil, you can build it right with steel. Pencils are easier to correct than welding!
T. D. Jakes
I was reading TD Jakes book Soar and really like the way he has defined a business plan. He calls it a Flight plan – fitting for the subject of the book and one I can recommend.
Even as artists, we have to think of the practicality of our craft. It is not all design, write and craft. It involves planning at a certain stage. This will help to clear the clutter and give you a good footing to stand on. Confidence is in knowing what to do, what plans to make, questions to ask, etc.
Let me know if you find it helpful.
What questions to ask in a business plan?
What are you selling?
What problem are you solving?
What’s your mission and motivation?
What makes your business unique?
What’s your destination?
What will success look like for your business?
Who needs what you want to offer?
Who’s your ideal customer?
Who else could use your product or service?
Who will be on your support team?
Who are the other professionals you need to consult or hire for their expertise? Lawyers? Accountants? Consultants? Others?
Who might want to invest in your business?
Why do people need your product or service?
Why should they buy it from you instead of from one of your competitors?
Why will they return to your business and refer others to you?
Why will you succeed where other, similar businesses have failed?
How will you operate?
How will you handle production, distribution, delivery, etc.?
How much money do you need to get started?
How will you raise this capital?
How will you market and promote your business?
How will you manage cash flow?
Many businesses have seasonal cycles, times that are more profitable, and times when operating and production costs are higher or lower. Identifying these cycles ahead of time will save you countless headaches, not to mention all kinds of sleepless nights! And perhaps more importantly, how will your business be able to compete in this market and who are the major players you’re up against? Who’s the Goliath you’re up against? What are the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors? Why is your business going to compete with these opponents? While it’s tempting to think your product, service, or business is the first of its kind, most for-profit entities have some competition—if not from a similar product or service, then from something or someone pulling potential customers’ attention and assets away from you.
Where is your airspace, the ideal atmosphere where your business will succeed?
Where will your business be located physically?
Where will potential customers learn about what you’re offering?
Where do you want your business to be three years from now?
When will you start your business?
What specific season and date make sense?
When will you know your venture is a success?
When you serve a certain number of customers? Make a certain percentage margin of profit? Reach sales of a certain number or range?
When will you need to rescale your business? Hire more employees? Move to a larger location?
When will you consider selling your business?
If you choose one of these more creative expressions for your business plan, here are the major categories you should address:
an overview of your mission (often called an executive summary);
a description of atmospheric conditions in the airspace where you hope to fly, the state of business currently in your chosen sector; market analysis and competitive strategies;
and your destination, the way you will know you’ve met certain goals or metrics.
Jakes, T. D. Soar! Build Your Vision from the Ground Up
This is an article that was written at the end of 2016. I just went through a painful time, just realized that depth of deception lost my work after some disagreement with the employer, and scammed by a heartless person who serves a three-year sentence at the moment. It was a time of learning and getting some backbone and ate the humility apple.
The good that came from that was that my path crossed with God, the Father again and received the healing I desperately needed. This is quite fitting with where I am.
Be true to yourself.
The last couple of months were the most exciting but also hurtful time I had in a long time, silent in my writing, my life had undergone a few twists and turns; each opportunity a learning curve where I discovered so much of myself.
As a woman, walking this path alone, I realized my vulnerability and how people would use me, sometimes even with my permission. For a long time, I lived in a very safe cocoon, allowing others to think for me. Ever since I made the bold step to stand on my own, taking responsibility for myself, I understood that circumstances, and the people or culture I lived in shaped my life. In short, I wasn’t street smart, and I had to learn how to fit in or be devoured.
My point of view.
In this haven, I perceived people in black and white with little or no grace towards them. Now those unyielding glasses had fallen away and my awareness of life is more colourful; making room not only for my own mistakes but those I’ve met. Life isn’t rigid or set-in-stone, but a kaleidoscope of laughter and passion, where I discover new opportunities at every corner—venturing out in the unknown to find incredible prospects and beautiful things along the way. I’m amazed at my boldness walking into places I would not have dreamed to do previously and in the process made friends: my pioneer spirit basking in the new person emerging from the cocoon.
In my vulnerability I learned to trust my gut; I made mistakes when I disobeyed that little voice, who diligently watched over me. While doing this, I learned to have fun laughing more than I did in a long time. I learned that it’s okay to mess up—no longer do I chastise myself in doing so—and ate some humble pie, but it taught me valuable skills that served me in my daily life and work environment. I work with people every day and I experience the good, the bad and the ugly all in one week.
As human beings, we have different perceptions but when finely tuned in—trying—the ugly turns out beautiful, the bad good and the good sometimes bad. Life is a fine balance between them all.
Love life’s challenges.
My love life has its own challenges. When two people meet, two worlds have to come together effortlessly (in my mind in any case). To adjust myself and find meaning and what I really want from life, incorporating another human being into it without forgetting who I am, is a mission. For now, being part of someone’s life has taken a back seat.
In a second chance relationship, more work goes into it, but it took a broken relationship to understand the full extent of it. When we met, I thought this is it, the man I will spend my old age with and I prepared myself to fit in his life but after a while, I realized it would take time, effort and if both parties don’t work at it every attempt would be fruitless. When it ended, it left me purposeless and empty, and I knew I would obliterate myself from the love scene completely. I feel the emptiness settling in me wondering if I would ever allow myself to love again. Although saddened, I realize that I need this time to get to terms with it all and discover my purpose.
My passionate side.
I never appreciated my passionate side, hiding it from everyone including myself, but on this new journey, I got to discern the intensity which I feel with and know not everyone would appreciate it. Although I embrace my passionate side, it makes me vulnerable to life and relationships creating its own challenges and I’ve learned more about myself letting go of old or even wrong thought patterns finding the balance during this and adapt in a way so I won’t get lost again.
Another learning curve.
With all this said, I simply want to leave you with the thought: Don’t be afraid to live, to dream, to love and yes, even to make mistakes.
To be true to ourselves takes determination and courage and lonely moments, unsure about the choices or even the next step but looking at the bigger picture we learn to know our own strengths discovering a world that would accept us for who we are.
A prosperous 2021 to every creative person. May your dreams come true in this year.
To Follow your bliss means to live your passion.
Asking the correct questions will help you find your feet.
Creativity is not only a child’s favourite playtime, but it can be yours as well. If you love to arrange flowers, or decorate a cake, or write journals. Maybe you are drawing sketches with the hope to be discovered.
But if you do not find nor make the time to explore your creativity will wait and you will become frustrated. That is no way to live.
As we know, not all dreams happen automatically. You need a goal and a purpose to move forward. Here are some questions to help you on your quest and goal for this year.
If you have questions afterwards or require a life coach, contact me. Visit the resource page for more resources.
Ask clarifying questions
1. When am I at my best/worst as a parent/employer/employee/spouse/artist, etc.? 2. Where do my natural talents lie? 3. What’s important to me in my work/home life? 4. What energies me, and what makes me feel apathetic? 5. What is my passion? 6. Who inspires me in my work, relationships, etc.? 7. Which role models can I emulate? 8. What values guide my work/my studies/my relationships? 9. Are there core values or principles I am not prepared to violate (these can include charters that you join)? 10. How do these values relate to my day-to-day life? 11. What mistakes have I made in my life so far, and how I can avoid repeating them?
Thousands of years ago, the art and science of making an impact were carried on the back of Story. It was the method of broadcasting breakthroughs for the generations to come. It was an instrument and an illustration that could be shared with all of humanity. Story changed things. Story started things.
But then it happened…
Something terrible happened to our most influential tool. I cannot pinpoint where or when, but somewhere in the moments of history in between then and now, there was an influence that came on the scene that caused us to believe that our Story didn’t matter anymore. We began to believe that only some have the right, or the privilege, or the authority to share. What’s even more detrimental is that we believed that no one would listen even if we tried.
This infiltrating influence came like an epidemic, creeping in quietly and now rules as it wishes. It steals, it kills, and it destroys. What is this worldwide epidemic?
It is known as Story Suicide.
Sometime after Story Suicide came on the scene, there was a man who found himself in a winepress, a place he had run to hide in a time of great personal and national crisis.
He was threshing wheat in a winepress. Did you know that to effectively thresh wheat you need a cross-breeze? But there was no breeze to be found in the hole where he was hiding on that day. At the moment, he did not care about effectiveness, because he was so riddled by his fear that he could not see where he was (in the winepress) was not where he was meant to be.
In Judges chapter 6, we find a man named Gideon. His Story is well known today, but on, that day, all he wanted was to live to see tomorrow. He could not and would not consider himself a worthy subject of any story told. So God sent Himself in the form of an angel to interrupt. Even more so, God called out something that Gideon couldn’t see.
God called out VALUE.
If you’re like me, you can call to mind situations and circumstances that may have happened yesterday or years ago when you found yourself hiding in your own functional ‘winepress’.
For me, it was my walk-in closet. A place where I went to escape looking for solace and peace, but all I found was stress, struggles, and a near-suicidal experience.
It could be that all you need on this day is an opportunity to release your story. That’s what I needed, and when I released my story, I found freedom.
Release the story.
So right now, I want to invite you to look up from your ‘winepress’ and release your Story. I promise freedom is on the other side; it is still a process, but freedom is found for those who share their Story, and your Story will bring freedom to others.
Taken YouVersion: Story Suicide Part 1: Tell your story, let’s make it matter by Andrew Martin.