If you could pack up and leave on vacation today, where would you be off to?
Considering we are in the depths of a freezing winter here in Alberta, anywhere would appeal to it’s inhabitants, that is warmer than -24!
However, it is no secret I have a favorite place, besides ‘home’ – England, that I would happily live. That place is Rome. It is an enthralling mixture of ancient and modern. Daily life is relaxed, the food and wine delicious and that golden Italian light is magical. The countryside with its winding roads, so like England and the iconic trees, vineyards and terracotta roofed buildings draw me to them. My screen saver at work is a view across the Tuscan countryside. Maybe, I was Italian in a past life and that is the reason I have an affinity with Italy.
I traveled to Florence, Rome and Venice many moons ago and Rome resonated within my soul so deeply I have always been pining to go back. I will go back someday, it is on my bucket list.
I will also be escaping to the mountains for three days with my dear friend, Linda – to write, explore and enjoy the wilderness and to meet up with the coordinator of the Jasper Community Habitat for the Arts. This facility will officially open in July, it is a wonderful center.
Other events on the list are two concerts – one at Spark Gallery with Sarah Smith and the other a classical concert with the Wye String Ensemble.
So all in all a wonderful week of arts, culture and writing – perfect if I don’t say so myself.
We all feel the thrill and anticipation for upcoming vacations, special occasions and seasonal festivals. During the months and weeks prior, we build them up into something fantastic. Our increased expectation impairs our day-to-day activities. We have a ‘countdown’ to the event or day, creating an ever intensifying yearning for our days to pass quickly. It is, of course, human nature to look forward to a special occurrence – it is hard not to.
However, in doing so, we risk not enjoying the everyday events that might also be special. Our anticipation can cloud our minds to everything else. I admit I have a countdown to a longed-for vacation but I realized my folly this past weekend. I became so focused on a future date; I was blurring some important dates that occurred prior to ‘the’ date.
A special friend got married on Saturday and although the heat was unbearable for many the garden ceremony was wonderful, as the guests saw the happy couple become man & wife. Shade was sort by some guest under tall hedges; there were containers of ice with water bottles in them and tiny bottles of bubble liquid to blow into the still air. The reception was held in a small community hall and everyone suffered the heat to rejoice the marriage. This was a celebration of two incredibly well suited people and I was honoured to share their day.
On Sunday, I visited a friend who has spent many months researching my family tree. The information gathered is fascinating and thrilling. We go back to 1628 in England, where records stop for the most part. I now have a binder full of my ancestors for my father and mother’s family tree. It will be part of an extraordinary keepsake book, I am compiling for my siblings and for their descendants to pass down.
So my weekend held incredible memories and my ‘countdown’ was forgotten for a while. I was fully present and will reflect on these events favorably for many a year. Every day is precious we need to relish them fully.
In writing, we also create anticipation for our readers, propelling them forward in the narrative to the conclusion. We plan the climax of our novels but anticipation is an important part of keeping your readers interest. If we develop a story arc that will have our readers asking questions about what could happen next, we are succeeding in our creation.
How do you form anticipation in your novels?
Share your tips, excerpts you are proud of or examples you found thrilling.
Thank you Dear Mandy, for having me as a guest blogger, it’s always an honour!
I’d like to introduce you and your readers to my fourth novel, a very new release, titled The Witchdoctor’s Bones.
I generally like to set fiction in the current day but in the case of The Withdoctor’s Bones, I drew upon African folklore, myths, legends and superstitions. I also integrated historical facts, with research unearthing the link between the origins of Nazi evil and the plight of the Bushmen. Modern-day Africa cannot escape her ancient traditions, which were integrated into the book.
The Witchdoctor’s Bones was such a big book that we had to cut some copy, and I’d like to share one such passage, of which I was particularly fond – it deals with Swahili horoscopes and I hope you will enjoy!
“In Africa,” Jono explained, “many tribes developed a zodiac of their own, based on the classical Latin ones. In Swahili, for example, Aries is Hamali which means Ram, Taurus is Tauri, which means Bull, Gemini is Jauza, which means twins, Cancer is Saratini, which means Lobster or Crab, Leo is Asadi, which means Lion, Virgo is Sumbula, which means Ear of Corn, Libra is Mizani, which means Pair of Scales, Sagittarius is Kausi, which means Bow, Capricorn is Jadi, which means Buck, Aquarius is Dalu, which Pail and Pisces is Hutu, which means Fish.”
“You forgot Scorpio,” Helen said. She ran her strong, blunt fingers through her hair and put it back up in a ponytail.
“Oh, I apologise, Scorpio is Akarabu, meaning Scorpion.”
“They all sounds so melodic,” Sofie sighed. “I like being a Hutu.”
“Pisces is considered to be a very favourable and beneficent sign,” Jono said.
The group had moved into the shade of the tree. Gisela laid head on her bare arms on the cool rough concrete of the picnic table and enjoyed the unhurried breeze that swept across her shoulders and through her hair.
She closed her eyes and listened to the cries and calls of an unfamiliar land; bicycle bells, people chatting in African languages, animals, birds and clanging noises to which she could she could marry no source. She sat up and rubbed her eyes.
“I am an Ear of Corn,” she said to Jono, “is that a favourable sign too?”
Jono smiled at her. “If you are Swahili, then it is the best of all the signs, they say those born under it will be rich, having large and healthy families, and you will enjoy good health all of your life.”
“And Aquarius?” Eva and Enrique both spoke at the same time and Enrique blushed.
“Ah, Aquarius, I am sorry my friends but you are predestined for tears and sorrow. But I will tell you though, your fate is not quite as bad as Sagittarius which means you were born in a time of adversity. Children born under the sign of Sagittarius can cause disaster to their elders as well as to themselves. In fact, in the olden days, these children were executed in a custom called ritual infanticide. Later only the right ring finger was cut off and at least you were allowed to live.”
“Thanks for that,” Rydell stuttered. “But I don’t believe in that rubbish anyway.”
“What about Leo?” Richard asked, “but listen old chap, don’t tell me if it’s dodgy. I only want good news yeah?”
“Leo is favourable for making important decisions in life, and that is all I know,” Jono said.
Richard frowned. “Now I’m not sure I believe you. Are you leaving out bad things? I was only joking, I’d rather know the whole caboodle.”
Jono laughed. “No my friend, that is all I know.”
“And Yowza?” Marika asked. “I like being a Yowza.”
“That would be Jauza,” Jono corrected her pronunciation. “Yours is a good sign under which to take a journey or voyage, to start a business or residence.
“And Capricorn?” Jasmine enquired. She straddled the concrete bench, her pale green cat eyes unblinking and enormous.
“They are cautious, proud and satisfied with themselves and they may expect to attain power in society.”
Jasmine smiled. “Yes, I am satisfied with myself.” She adjusted her bandanna. “And I’m gonna rule the world.”
“You’ve left out Cancer, Libra and Scorpio,” Helen pointed out.
“Libra,” Jono said, “highlights meditation and circumspection. Cancer is auspicious for the performance of religious rituals. Scorpio is the season of abundance ensuring a fortune of good crops and if you are a woman, then you will have no problem falling pregnant.”
“Falling pregnant?” Sofie enquired. “What a funny way to put it. Like you fall down, and oops, you’re pregnant.”
“Uh, excuse me Jono, but you also forgot Aries.” Lena spoke up quietly.
“My apologies. Well my dear, you have the most auspicious of all the signs with the highest blessing.”
Lena smoothed her shorts, her expression happy.
“And Taurus?” asked Stepfan, “what about us little bulls?”
The small crowd laughed.
“What’s so funny?” Stepfan demanded.
“Nothing, nothing,” Jono said, thinking, as the others had, that the sign was a perfect match to the man.
“I am sorry my friend but your fortune is not as good as your wife’s. It is believed that persons born under this sign are proud and unsympathetic.”
“What rubbish.” Stepfan declared. “I am a very sympathetic person. I listen to people’s stupid problems all the time.”
“Ah yes, I can see you would be very kindly,” Sofie said and she and the others laughed.
“Harrison,” Charisse piped up in an to effort to turn the focus away from red-faced, blustery Stepfan, “why aren’t you taking notes? I would have thought you’d be writing this down.”
“Bah.” Harrison’s blue eyes were bright. “Stuff and nonsense I tell you. I am a man who makes my own fortune. I am in charge of my own destiny.”
“But what sign are you anyway?” Charisse asked.
“I am not going to say. I will not partake in these foolish flights of fancy.”
“Now where’s the fun in that?” Charisse said slowly and she smiled.
It may have been the way she uttered the word fun, but the men in the group leaned towards her, just a little.
“Time to get on the bus again.” Even Jono sounded slightly distracted. “We have taken more time than we should have but an interesting discussion yes?”
“Right you are there.” Richard made a dash for the bus.
“I am a Sumbula,” Sofie told Kate as they climbed up. “What are you?”
“I am a good-fortuned Hutu.” Kate replied. “Jono is good with his information.”
* books can be ordered (or pre-ordered) at Amazon.ca or from inanna.ca and can also be found in select bookstores. If you have any trouble ordering a book, please contact the author, Lisa de Nikolits, at email@example.com
Bibliography for The Witchdoctor’s Bones – the information contained in the above passge comes from one of these books but I can’t recall which one…
“Albino Blacks Sought by African Witchdoctors for Ritual Murder
‘Medicine.’” The New Observer 30 May 2013. Web.
Berglund, Axel-Ivar. Zulu Thought: Patterns and Symbolism. Bloomington:
Indiana University Press, 1989.
Braid, Mary. “Africa: Witchcraft returns to haunt new South Africa.”
The Independent 21 January 1998. Web.
Chapman, Michael and Tony Voss. Accents: An Anthology of Poetry
from the English-speaking World. Cape Town: Paper Books, 1986.
Clark, Michael. The Saga of the Sani Pass and Mokhotlong. Himeville:
Corbin, George A. Native Arts of North America, Africa and the
South Pacific: An Introduction. Boulder, co: Westview Press, 1988.
de Waal, Mandy. “Witch-hunts: The darkness that won’t go away.”
Daily Maverick 30 May 2012. Web.
Early Man: Time Life Books. New York: Time-Life Books Inc., 1979.
Finck, Henry T. Primitive Love and Love Stories. New York: Charles
Scribner’s Sons, 1899.
Gordon, Robert J. and Stuart Sholto Douglas. The Bushman Myth:
The Making of a Namibian Underclass. Boulder, co: Westview
Heale, Jay and Dianne Stewart, eds. African Myths and Legends.
Capetown, sa: Struik Publishers, 1995.
Illustrated Guide to Southern Africa: Second Edition. Cape Town: The
Reader’s Digest Association of South Africa (Pty.) Limited, 1980.
Knappert, Jan. An Encyclopedia of Myth and Legend: African Mythology.
London: Diamond Books Inc., 1990.
“My Lioness.” South African Love Poems. Web.
Off The Beaten Track. Cape Town: AA The Motorist Publications
(Pty) Ltd., 1987.
Olivier, Willie and Sandra Olivier. Namibia: Travel Guide. Chatswood,
Australia: New Holland Publishers, 2006.
Pelton, Robert Young. The World’s Most Dangerous Places. New
York: Harper Collins, 2003.
Phythian, B. A., ed. Considering Poetry. London, uk: Hodder &
Poland, Marguerite, ed. The Mantis and the Moon: Stories for the
Children of Africa. Johannesburg: Ravan Press (Pty.) Ltd., 1979.
Roberts, Jani Farrell. “Modern Witches: Saudia Arabia and Africa.”
Excerpt. Seven Days: Tales of Magic, Sex and Gender. 2000. Web.
Salopek, Paul. “Children in Angola tortured as witches.” The Chicago
Tribune 28 March 2004. Web.
Shaw, Serena. Pucketty Farm. Durban: Author, 1999.
Thepa, Madala. “The devil in our midst.” Sunday World 25 March
Thank you Lisa for sharing your new novel with us today. It is always a pleasure to help a fellow author, especially when they are such a dleight as you!