New Beginnings…

It’s almost time to put my first novel, The Ripmender, back online. Well, once I have sorted out the rather scary tax details on Amazon.

I went to the financial lady at work and asked her what my TIN is. “Your what?” is of course what she asked me, because it seems like a strange thing to throw into normal conversation.

I explained that it’s a Tax Identification Number, and that Amazon needs that for me to be able to upload my books. We don’t seem to call it a TIN in South Africa, so after explaining to her exactly what I was looking for, she pointed me in the right direction on my IRP form, which will hopefully solve the scary tax form problem.

Part of the new start to my writing is getting my own domain. I intend to make my blog posts much more interesting than they were while I was studying, and I plan to have a lot more novels on offer as well in the near future.

I would love it if you would join me in my new home at…


And here is my new cover… Looking forward to seeing you on the other side.








How to get back on the horse

For three years, my life has been controlled by assignments, exams and summarising long, complicated textbooks. I burned the midnight oil, taxed my already overtaxed brain, and worried about what i would do if the institution lost my assignment, or gave me someone else’s mark (which has happened to other people)

Finally, I think I’m finished! And finally I can go back to being myself again.

You see, I am a writer, and for those three years, I thought it was honourable to my school, my family and my future that I do as well in my studies as I possibly can. In between being a mother and a girlfriend and having a full time job, there wasn’t much time to write.

I made notes on each book that I was working on, and
managed to write two acover new 8 invertednd a half books in that time. At last, I can give them all my attention.

I love my characters. They’ve been with me through all my woes, and I have seen them through adventures, loss, heartbreak and joy. They have been all over the world, and all over the universe, fighting for the safety of all those on our planet. They are ordinary people who have found themselves in unusual circumstances, where all they could do was hide their heads and give up, or stand up and be counted.

All of us face those challenges in big or small ways. I see my characters grow through the book series, and I have seen myself grow as well, from a scared person starting again in life, to a woman who finally knows what it is like to be truly loved.

I hope you will get to know my characters in the next few months. I’m busy working on my launch plan and my cover, and soon I will set them free to make new friends.

It’s time for me to get back on the horse and start typing…





Designing the perfect book cover

There are hundreds of articles and blogs about this subject. I’ve been told to take it to a graphic designer and have the cover done professionally. But on my budget (of almost nothing) that isn’t an option.

I also had to try think what would match the genre of the story, and that was another problem. It’s not a science fiction novel, but a romance novel with science fiction elements. The customary book covers of this genre don’t fit at all, being usually either of strange aliens, or musclebound men engaged in a breathless and passionate embrace with a woman (human or otherwise) in front of a starry background.

I needed a cover that had the sci-fi element, with a cute but not overly shirtless man to bring some romance to it. And then I had to have a font that said romance but not flowery romance.

One can do hours of research on what font is best suited for what genre, but after spending those hours doing just that, I came to the conclusion that nothing was as effective as seeing what worked with my own eyes.

Cleaning_up_Fourier_screenshot_gimp_1I already have my basic cover, which I edited using Gimp, an open source programme similar to Photoshop.

Download Gimp here

Gimp is very technical, and sometimes it has made me want to scream and give up, or at least look for a stress-relieving bar of chocolate. But most complicated things in Gimp can be solved by Googling the problem. Many people who are a lot cleverer than me have had to solve the same problem.

I found a good website for free fonts and looked at as many of them as I could. Just be careful to read the text document that comes with the fonts. Sometimes they aren’t free for commercial use, even though they are on a site that says they are.8415381240_2df5e13e58Free fonts for commercial use

What I found to be the easiest way to test fonts was to get a Word document of my cover and type the title over it using the “behind text” formatting option for the picture. that way it is easy to highlight the text and move down your list of fonts in Word so you can see what each font looks like without even having to click on it.

Just another idea. Try the fonts all in capitals as well. Sometimes you get interesting results.

Ripmender cover tangerine julianne jasmine.bigger


I went through all the fonts on my computer and thought that this one seemed the best. But I still wasn’t happy. It didn’t have that “oomph” factor that I would expect from a title. It didn’t stand out at all. So I had to go back to the drawing board.



And that’s when I found that Gimp also does logos. I won’t go into the time it took me to be able to do this, or the many cups of cocoa and snacks it took while I figured out how to do it, but eventually I worked out how to make a logo and put it onto my cover.

I will explain how to do that in another post, because it gets a bit involved.

I’m still not happy with the font. I need to experiment further with colours and types of logo and font choice, and assignments are still looming on the horizon. These are the ones I have managed to do in the meantime, just as experiments.



This was the first one that I tried. Better than a normal font, but it still doesn’t stand out very well.




Ripmendercoverfinalglowing hot



This is quite fiery and might work well if I find the right font to go with it. I’ve also since worked out how to make it look less blurry.






I quite like this font, but I’m not sure about the colour and the spacing of the two words.







This is probably my favourite one so far, but it still doesn’t leave me with the feeling that it is the right one.

I did like experimenting with two different fonts for the title. I think it might work well.





Ripmender cover neon archietext brightjulianne


This one is certainly bright. Maybe too bright!  And I’m concerned that the title isn’t that easy to read.


Re-designing The Ripmender Cover

I was very excited to look on my online university website under “Academic progress” and see the words… Final Year Student under my name. I still have to pass three subjects, one of them being Curriculum Designing. This sounded interesting, but is mainly full of the history of curriculum development in the country, and abbreviations like RNCS and IQMS and CAPS. Hopefully by June I will be able to get those stuck in my head.

In the meanwhile, I am putting the finishing touches on The Ripmender, and designing a new cover for it. I think the age group is more college leaver than young adult, and I’ve had some 40 year old men and women enjoying it, so I decided to go with an older age group.

I also think that it fits better in the Romance genre, rather than the Sci-fi genre that it was originally marketed as. There is too much about relationships to keep the hard core sci-fi fan happy, and I know that as a lover of love stories, I would probably never be attracted to something labelled as science fiction.

So I had to make the cover and font more romance orientated, while showing a little of the sci-fi theme. And of course, a romance novel needs a cute guy, especially as Nathan Jake is the hottest young rock star of the century.

And there I hit a snag. Being South African, with an appalling exchange rate, buying anything from overseas is out of reach for most normal people. And the free images of rock stars were very simple and not suitable.

I knew a band member who said I could raid his Facebook albums 285423_10150318660433384_7697141_n
for a photo to use, so I found the best one, and contacted the photographer who said I could put it on the cover. I fiddled around a bit, but realised that he didn’t look anything like Nathan. I could tweak it a bit using GIMP, but I decided to look around a bit more.

I learned that just because a picture is labelled as “free for commercial use”, it doesn’t mean that it actually is. I sifted through hundreds of options, and found what I thought was the perfect one, and then I ran into the snag of the licence not matching the search criteria, or the website it was in.

I tracked the owner of the photo using the handy link called  Tin Eye and asked her if I could use it. Very kindly, she said yes, but that I must send her a copy of the finished product. I hope she likes it, otherwise I’m back to the drawing board, literally.

The background was a lot simpler, thanks to NASA free images. I searched their website thoroughly, and the pictures do seem to be available for commercial use. I apologise if I was mistaken.

I found several that could make good covers…

I wanted something with colour, but also a black background that I could paste the rock star image over.

For the font, I Googled romance covers, and looked through several font sites. I then out a few covers together and asked friends to vote on their favourites.

Hopefully, the finished product will look good and portray the ethos of the story.







Re-launching The Ripmender

So after a hectic year of studying and making a go of a promotion at work, I am at last working on re-launching The Ripmender.

It’s a fun story, and I have enjoyed creating new worlds and unusual characters, and getting into the technical aspect like DNA manipulation and genetically enhanced soldiers.

The book is with Emma,my editor at the moment, and I am busy re-doing the cover and reading everything I can get my hands on about marketing a book.

So watch this space…

I’m back in the world of writing and I’m looking forward to the journey!

The Ripmender is unavailable for the moment

The first Ripmender novel wasn’t selling enough, so the publisher took it off Amazon.

I am in the middle of doing prac teaching and exams for a teaching post graduate course, so when I have time somewhere in November, I will format The Ripmender, give it a new cover and put it on Amazon. I will also put number 2 in the series, with a few more romance novels to follow.

So this is just a pause, not a goodbye.

The Strangest Cake I’ve ever heard of

They call it the “turducken of the pastry world”. A turducken, in case you don’t know is a chicken inside a duck inside a turkey. It’s definitely on my bucket list to cook; I’ll just need a bigger oven.

“Turducken quartered cross-section” by Christopher “Pacula” Corkum – Self-photographed. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

Last Easter weekend, I was house sitting a friend’s house. They had satellite TV and an amazing kitchen, so I spent the entire four days holiday watching cooking shows, and trying to cook up a storm.

My favourite programme was Diners, Drive Ins and Dives because they usually have real food, and not those weird gourmet meals of two green beans and a mushroom.

And that’s where I saw the strangest cake I’ve ever heard of… The Pumpple Cake from the Flying Monkey bakery in Philadelphia.

It’s a pumpkin pie inside a chocolate cake, and on top of that is an apple pie inside a vanilla cake. The two cakes with their pie fillings are iced together with butter cream. A slice is over 1000 calories.


I’ve been trying to find out the story behind the development of the cake, but I can’t  track it down.

This is something I would definitely love to try, but I’m not sure I’d be brave enough to try and bake it myself!