Looking for a publisher


I finished my PhD novel The Buried Chameleon. The title relates to a practice among the indigenous Khoi tribes. During drought they buried a chameleon to bring rain.

A short synopsis

Amberike from Abyssinia, 10 years old, arrives at the Cape of Good Hope with her older sister, Gilda (12). They are housed in the slave lodge. They are separated and Amberike does not see her sister again. While adjusting to life at the lodge Amberike meets the Cook, Klaas, Arrie and Maria who becomes her substitute mother. The Cook, a writer from Indonesia falls in love with Amberike. Her body maturing is noticed by the men at the lodge and Klaas and Arrie take a special interest.

Amberike attends the lodge school where she catches the roving eye of Egbert, the teacher. He wants her to learn manners and asks Meine’s wife, Anke, to take Amberike under her wing. Anke admires Egbert and agrees. Egbert and Anke have an affair. When it is found out Meine sends Anke away and sells Egbert’s slaves, ruining his future plans.

The Cook has the compulsion to run away from his enslavement. Although Amberike develops a crush on him she has to compete with his desire for freedom. She contracts smallpox, aborts as a result of it, and when she recovers she uses her acquired immunity to help the Cook assist the Khoi, for whom the epidemic has devastating consequences.

I self-published my collection Eye of a Needle: And other Stories but do not really want to go that route with this novel, although my stories did well, with the Department of Education buying it for school libraries. However, the sales on Amazon never took off. At most I sold about 20 copies.

I was so busy completing the novel and writing my reflective essay that I never got around to looking for an agent and/or publisher.

Manifestations and Memory: A Look At Trauma, Hauntings, and “Rememory”

I was searching for “rememory” one of the processes in my new novel and came across this article. Slave memory in South has largely been repressed and forgotten. Excavating such a history has been a real challenge.

BSU Digital Literature Review

Written By Elizabeth Palmer

Sigmund Freud writes that the uncanny is a distinct “class of…frightening which leads back to what is known of old and long familiar.” He goes on to rhetorically ask how it is “possible…[for] the familiar [to] become uncanny and frightening.” What frightens us most are the things which we can almost recognize. Sometimes, that almost recognizable thing is memory. In Toni Morrison’s Beloved, the word “rememory” is used when the main character, Sethe, recalls moments that have been forgotten. She is faced with these uncanny re-memories—moments that are not quite familiar because they have been tucked away for so long—and at their sudden manifestation, becomes haunted by their existence.

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How to Get a Fellowship: Tips to Write a Kickass Proposal

The Productive PhD Ninja Blog

Writing fellowship/grant proposals and putting together applications for these can be both time-consuming and emotionally taxing. It’s a long process, success rates for the competitive ones are anywhere between 5-7%, and you have to make time for it during what would already be a busy semester or quarter. And there’s a good chance that you will not get it. I know… I have been there… a LOT.

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I am a proponent of perseverance. 🙂 So it won’t come as a surprise to you that I have written more fellowship proposals in the last four years than anyone else in my PhD program. Even though I have not won most of the fellowships I have applied for, I still have the highest number of fellowships anyone has received in my cohort. So the first advice I have for you is to keep…

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A new poem I’m working on


A dominant partner will


to regain lost control

like an alpha god will

fight to the end

the will to win so


The law becomes an


The will becomes … law.

A steamroller will


to rebuild a lost path

in the jungle of

She and He

no matter the configuration.

A rabid peer will

like a stag butt horns

like a rooster peck

coxcomb erect.

The Book Deal: Territorial Rights

Ask the Agent

The Book Deal: Territorial Rights

Most people think of book deals as just that: a author gets paid by a publisher to publish his/her book. But it is a little more complicated than that. The book deal is a  negotiation that includes, not just how much the author will get paid, but  also what “subsidiary rights” will be granted to the publisher for exploitation. There are numerous revenue generating opportunities when you write a book. They include: right to license in the English Language in the UK and other English speaking countries, translation rights, audio rights, e-book rights, sale of abridgements, magazine excerpts,  movie/tv/performance rights, merchandise spin-off rights, and many more. All book deals include negotiations of  which of these sub-rights are being granted to the publisher and what will be the revenue split between publisher and author.

Today we will talk about territory rights. These are important deal points…

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Slave novel done

At last I’ve completed my novel. After working on it for four years I was very relieved to send the final draft to my supervisor recently. I’d been writing on it through Covid and many personal challenges.

The first draft of my reflective essay received good feedback and I have sent in an Intention to Submit. My examiners are waiting (two international examiners and one local one) and now I’m freaking out, feeling all short of breath and scared. I’ve been working hard towards this goal so why the fear? Maybe fear of failure? Anyway I’m here now and have to push through.

I also have to find a publisher for my novel. I think it’s a good novel but I’m sure all writers think that 🙂

Turning Wheels (1937) by Stuart Cloete

A book I recommend.

Reading 1900-1950

Book Review by Sylvia D. Between 1835 and the early 1840s some twelve to fourteen thousand Boers (Dutch/Afrikaans for “farmers”) who were descended from settlers who had come from western Europe (mainly from the Netherlands and north-west Germany and Huguenots from France) to settle in Cape Colony, migrated eastward and north-eastward – the Great Trek. It was this mass movement of settlers that eventually saw the establishment of the Transvaal and the Orange Free State. The voortrekkers, as they were known, were seeking to escape British control and were in search of new land. The family of Stuart Cloete (1897-1976 and pronounced “Clooty”) had settled in the Cape in 1652 and he was able to draw on the writings of his great-grandfather to write a novel about the Great Trek entitled Turning Wheels.

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Middle passage

While researching my current work in progress, a historical novel about slavery at the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, I came upon this poem published in 1945 in Phylon, a magazine dedicated to race and culture.

My novel is almost ready now (fourth draft) and I was looking for epigraphs to put at the beginning of each chapter.

Rock art of the Khoisan, indigenous people settlers met at the Cape

Middle Passage

by Robert Hayden

It was long, long after the burnished riding of those conquering kings,
the poems, the sacred images of bronze,
the jewel-dark wisdom of that fabulous queen.
It was long, long after that they came with guns, disease,
in ships with death for figurehead,
stained sails and Christ spreadeagled in the cordage. Long, long after…
And we had forgotten our sires’ plumed and charioted splendor,
our past an ivory image buried under jungle leaves,
and our god false to us, our kings betraying us.

Jesus, Estrella, Esperanza, Mercy:
Sails flashing to the wind like weapons,
sharks following the moans, the fever and the dying;
horror the corposant and compass-rose.

Voyage through death
to life upon these shores.
“Tenth April Eighteen Hundred:
Blacks rebellious. Crew uneasy. Our linguist says
their staunchless moaning is a prayer for death,
ours and their own. Some try to starve themselves.
Lost three this morning leaped with crazy laughter
to the waiting sharks; sang as they went under.”
Desire, Adventure, Tartar, Ann:
Standing to America, bringing home
black gold, black ivory, black seed.
Deep in the festering hold thy father lies,
of his bones New England pews are made;
those are altar lights that were his eyes.
Jesus Saviour Pilot Me
Over Life’s Tempestuous Sea
We pray that thou wilt grant, O Lord,
safe passage to our vessels bringing
heathen souls unto thy comforting.
Jesus Saviour
“Midnight: I cannot sleep, for I am sick with fear, but
writing eases fear a little, since still my eyes can see these
words take shape upon the page; and so I write, as one
would turn to exorcism. Four days scudding, but now the
sea is calm again. Ill luck follows in our wake like sharks
(our grinning tutelary gods). Which one of us has killed an
albatross? A plague among our blacks-ophthalmia: blind-
ness-and we have jettisoned the blind to no avail. It spreads
(Christ, help us), spreads. Its claws have scratched sight
from the Captain’s eyes, and there is blindness in the
fo’c’sle; and we must sail three weeks before we come to
port. What port awaits us, Davy Jones’ or home? I’ve heard
of slavers drifting and drifting-stricken wanderers, play-
things of wind and storm, their crews gone blind,
savage jungle hatred crawling up on deck . . .”
Thou Who Walked On Galilee
We bring from hideous Africa
the black race, demon-souled, to thee, to thee.
Jesus Saviour Pilot Me
“Deponent further sayeth that said brig
the Bella J. sailed from the Guinea coast
with cargo of five hundred blacks and odd
for the barracoons of Florida:
“That there was scarcely room ‘tween-decks for half
the sweltering cattle stowed spoon-fashion there;
that some went made of thirst and tore their flesh
and sucked the spurting blood:
“That crew and Captain lusted with the comliest of
the heathen girls kept naked in the cabins;
that there was one they called the Guinea Rose,
and they cast lots and fought to lie with her:
“That when the Bo’s’n piped all hands, the flames,
spreading from starboard, already were beyond control,
the negroes screaming in the hold, their chains
entangled with the flames:
“That said black men could not be reached;
that the crew abandoned ship, leaving
the shrieking negresses behind:
“That two hundred thousand dollars in
prime slaves were lost;
that six white men did perish drunken with the wenches.
“Further Deponent sayeth not….”
Pilot Oh Pilot Me
Voyage through death
to life upon these shores.

Borne from that land-
O Ancient mother made the whore of greed,
of death the glittering concubine;
O fiery kingdoms dazzling-dark with sun,
thy smouldering riches cursing and consuming thee-
Our gods false to us, our kings betraying us
for rum and mirrors, muskets and a dream of power.
Rio Pongo Gambia Whydah Calabar,
Gold Coast and Ivory Coast:
wound-vivid points upon the map of man’s cruelty to man.
“Aye, lad, and I have seen those factories,
have seen the mongos skilled at setting traps
of war wherein the feuding blacks, victor and vanquished,
were caught as prizes for our barracoons.
“Fieldhands for Georgia gentlemen,
footmen for the senor.
black girls to please a gentleman
and comb his lady’s hair.
Now who will buy, now who will buy? Come buy, 0.
“Have seen the nigger kings whose greed and vanity
turned the wild black hides to gold for us.
And there was one-King Anthracite we called him-
fetish face beneath French parasols
“Of brass and orange velvet; impudent mouth
whose cups were carved from human skulls:
would honor us with drum and feast and conjo
and palm-oil-glistening wenches skilled in love.
“And for tin crowns that shone with paste,
red calico and German-silver trinkets,
would have the drums talk war and send
his spearmen on the sleeping villages.
“And they would burn the papery villages
and kill the sick and old and lead the young
in coffles to our factories …
“Twenty years in that trade, twenty years;
and it was like the song says, lad:
“Oh, I’d ninety bars of gold, as I sailed
and riches manifold as I sailed, as I sailed,
and wealth beyond control, as I sailed.
“For there was gold a-plenty to be harvested
from nigger-flesh, and I’d be trading still
but for the fever melting down my bones.”
Our gods false to us, our kings betraying us,
scattering us like seeds
to flower stubbornly in alien ground.

Shuttles in the rocking loom of history,
the dark ships move, the dark ships move,
their bright ironical names
like kindness on a murderer’s mouth;
plough through thrashing glister toward
fata morgana’s lucent, melting shore,
weave toward New World littorals that are
mirage and myth and actual shore.
Voyage through death,
voyage whose chartings are unlove.
A charnel stench, effluvium of living death
spreads outward from the hold,
where the living and the dead, the horribly dying,
lie interlocked, lie foul with blood and excrement
and stink like animals.
Deep in the festering hold thy father lies;
the corpse of mercy rots with him;
rats eat love’s rotting gelid eyes.
But, oh, the living look at you
with human eyes whose suffering accuses you,
whose hatred reaches through the swill of dark
to strike you like a leper’s claw.
You cannot stare that hatred down,
nor chain the fear that stalks the watches
and breathes on you its fetid scorching breath;
cannot kill the deep immortal human wish,
the timeless will.
“But for the storm that threw up barriers
of wind and wave, senores, the Amistad
would have reached the port of Principe
in two, three days at most; but for the storm
we should have been prepared for what befell.
Swift as the tiger’s leap it was, verdad.
There was that interval of moonless calm
filled only with the water’s and the rigging’s
sound-then suddenly a low and savage
snarl-it was no human sound, verdad-
and they had leapt upon us with machete
and marlinspike. It was as though the air
itself were striking us. We were no match
for them. Our crew, exhausted by the struggle
with the storm, went down before the blacks.
Selestino our mulatto cook,
ran from below with gun and lantern,
and I saw, before the cane knife’s blinding
shock of pain, Cinquez, this surly black
who calls himself a prince, foremost in
the ghastly work and shouting orders to
the others in his barbaric tongue. I saw
him back the poor cook down, and then he turned
on me. The decks were slippery
when daylight came. It sickens me to think
of it. The savages threw overboard
the butchered bodies of our men
like so much jetsam-bodies of Christian men
despatched unshriven by the heathen slaves.
Basta. The rest is quickly told,’ senores:
How Cinquez spared Don Jose and me
to steer the Amistad to Africa,
and how we voyaged east by day and west
by night, deceiving them, hoping for rescue,
prisoners on our own vessel that,
like a phantom schooner doomed to portless seas,
wandered the Atlantic till at length
we drifted to the shores of this your land,
America, where we were freed from our
unspeakable misery.
Now we demand,
senores, the extradition of Cinquez
and his accomplices to La Havana.
And it distresses us to know there are
so many here inclined to justify
and praise the mutiny of these treacherous blacks.
We find it strange and paradoxical
that you whose wealth, whose very liberty
are rooted in the labor of your slaves-
and justly so-should suffer the senor
John Quincy Adams to speak so passionately
of the right of slaves to kill their masters,
and with his lavish rhetoric weave
a hero’s garland for Cinquez.
Jus suum is the view of the viejo;
it is not ours, and we are determined
to return to Cuba with our slaves
and there see justice done. Cinquez
will die, senores, be assured he will .. .”
The deep immortal human wish,
the timeless will:
Cinquez its superb Homeric image,
life that transfigures many lives,
life that defines our history upon these shores.
Borne from that land-
our gods false to us, our kings betraying us-
like seeds the storm winds carry
to flower stubbornly upon these shores.

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