Writers Write Reviewers Choose Their Top Books of 2015

We asked our regular book reviewers to send us their top five reads of 2015. The books do not have to have been published in 2015, although most of them were. 

It's also interesting to look back and see what their choices were from 2014, 2013  and 2012. As always, the selections are as eclectic as the business of publishing. 

There were favourites. Some books were mentioned by more than one of our reviewers. They are: The Miniaturist (3), We Never Asked For Wings (2), Pretty Girls (2), Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda (2), Things A Little Bird Told Me (3), Vanishing Girls (2), Me Before You (2), and The Accident Season (2).

We hope you find some ideas for holiday reads from these 16 reviewers' choices. Please tell us which book was your favourite in the comment section below.

Amanda Patterson

  1. We Never Asked for Wings by Vanessa Diffenbaugh (Mantle). Letty, a 33-year-old mother, who has never had to act like a parent, is terrified because her own mother has left her alone with her two children. She has to find a way to make a life for herself and her little little family. This beautifully written story is filled with unforgettable characters, magical feathers and beautiful words. 
  2. Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver (Hodder & Stoughton). Oliver's brilliant plotting turns a family tragedy into a nail-biting thriller. Teenagers, Dara and Nick used to be inseparable, but a devastating accident causes an icy rift between the two sisters. Read the book to find out how they find their way back. 
  3. Time and Time Again by Ben Elton (Bantam Press). It is 2024. Hugh Stanton, ex-army survivalist, is given the opportunity to go back in time to 1914 and change the course of history. But what happens when you change the past? I loved the moral dilemmas and the believable characters. The plot twists are completely unexpected. I could not put the book down. 
  4. The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton (Picador) Nella Oortman, a young country girl, is married off to a rich merchant trader, Johannes Brandt. The story, set in Amsterdam in 1686 over a period of four months, had so much pace and tension that I felt as if I had lived through a lifetime by the end of a book.
  5. Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter (Century) Three beautiful sisters' lives are destroyed when one of them goes missing. The two that remain watch their loving parents’ marriage disintegrate, their mother stricken with grief, their father taking his life, their family ripped apart. 20 years later, we find out the truth about the missing girl. Don’t read this book if you’re scared of the dark.

Mia Botha

  1. We Never Asked For Wings by Vanessa Diffenbaugh (Mantle). The wait was worth it. I didn’t think she’d be able to do it again, just because Language of Flowers was so awesome, but wow. She did it.
  2. There Is A Robot In My Garden by Deborah Install (Doubleday) A refreshing book, that charmed me. I want a Tang.
  3. The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton (Picador) Alluring, intoxicating and all consuming, and it is set in my favourite city.
  4. Mrs Hemingway by Naomi Wood (Picador) Learn from her. It’s like a "How to skip the back story guide”. Her characters are distinct and their voices unique and it’s a bloody good read. 
  5. Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes (Umuzi). When I grow up I am going to write a book like this. I hope.

Anthony Ehlers

  1. The Santangelos by Jackie Collins (Simon & Schuster) Jackie may have left us for the big Hollywood sign in the sky — but she left us a rich trashy literary heritage of sex, drugs, and move-making. The Santangelos is a great swan song from a superstar author.
  2. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jessie Andrews (Allen & Unwin) Teenage angst has never been funnier or more poignant — here’s a book that will make you laugh, cry, and remember all those awkward high school moments. 
  3. Our Story by Reg and Ron Kray with Fred Dinenage (Pan). I’d been fascinated by the dangerous gangster twins since I saw the 1990 biopic The Krays starring the pop star twins, the Kemp brothers. This books offers a fascinating glimpse into their life of violence, power, and glamour in the 60s.
  4. Murder D.C. by Neely Tucker (Century). The investigative reporter, Sully Carter, is a quiet but welcome new voice in the world of crime fiction. I liked how Tucker took his time to build the suspense and the characters.
  5. The Eye of the Wolf by Daniel Pennac (Walker Books). This slim little novel, aimed at middle grade readers, tells of an orphan wolf and his unlikely friendship with a young boy who has his own history of loss.  A beautifully written children’s book that isn’t afraid to tackle sadness.  

Pauline Vijveberg

  1. A Year of Marvellous Ways by Sarah Winman (Tinder Press) is my favourite book of the year. Marvellous Ways, has been waiting for something, but she isn’t sure for what. She will know when she sees it. Is it the young soldier who washes up in her creek? This enchanting book about loss, grief, healing and love stayed with me for a long time. 
  2. My Grandmother sends her Regards & Apologies by Frederik Backman (Sceptre). This is another feel-good book by the Swedish blogger. It’s about an adventurous grandmother who teaches her granddaughter Elsa a secret language and sends her on a treasure hunt. The intentions of the grandmother will gradually make sense. I loved this book. It’s funny and sad. 
  3. The Utopia Experiment by Dylan Evans (Picador). Thought-provoking and riveting. This book is about the author’s experiment to discover what happens in a fictional scenario of total disaster. How will people survive and cope? Poignant, philosophical and readable.   
  4. The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin (Mantle). Do children sometimes have memories of past lives? This book is about a mother who works with a psychiatrist to see how she can help her troubled unhappy four-year-old, who says he wants to go home even though he is at home. A fascinating and skilfully crafted novel. Interesting. Worth reading. 
  5. The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton (Picador). This book is set in Amsterdam in the seventeenth  century. Young Nella Oortman receives a dollhouse as a wedding gift from her wealthy merchant husband, but marriage does not bring Nella what she expected. The characters come to life and their actions are reflected in the doll’s house. Secrets unfold. History told in an animated way. Highly recommended.

Amanda Blankfield-Koseff

  1. The Seed Thief by Jacquie L'Ange (Umuzi). This was my favourite book of 2015 by far. Maddy Bellani is a botanist in Cape Town, but she was born in Brazil. She is sent back to Brazil to find and bring back a rare plant seed that may cure cancer. Will she manage to navigate the pharmaceutical companies also in search of the seed? A really interesting and well-written novel.
  2. Lucia's Web by Sue Searles (Clean Reads).  Alison is a young woman living on her own who needs two housemates to assist with the rent. She gets one amazing tenant, Sam, who becomes her best friend, and another really weird gothic chick Lucia who freaks her out so much that she thinks she is a stalker. But everything is not as it seems. A story that starts out going in one direction and then has a twist that throws it in another really interesting direction. Great read.
  3. The Same Sky by Amanda Eyre Ward (Blackfriars). Two women. Two vastly different childhoods. Yet destiny has plans for them to achieve their wildest dreams...together...A story of survival and triumph. Really worthwhile.
  4. What If by Rebecca Donovan (Penguin). Cal Logan was upset that his two female childhood friends stopped speaking to him when he went to college. Then one of the girls reappears on his college campus but has a different name and does not know who he is... I was apprehensive about this book at first as it came across like a typical college novel. However, the plot changed into something deeper and more intense in each chapter. It was a gripping read. 
  5. The Woman Who Stole My Life by Marian Keyes (Michael Joseph). Stella Sweeney is a middle-aged divorcee with two children. She then gets a rare disease that leaves her temporarily paralysed. When she recovers her life changes in ways she could never predict. I was so excited to read another Marian Keyes novel, and although this one is not on my top three list of her books, it is really good too. A different topic altogether but a good read.

Amy Bouwer

  1. The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle (Corgi Childrens). The accident season arrives at the same time each year, breaking bones, ripping skin, and tearing Cara’s already fraying family apart. But this time, the accident season holds promises even more deadly than before, because Cara is beginning to ask questions, and won’t give in until the shadows of the past are brought into the light. Hauntingly beautiful with ethereal yet powerful characters, this novel was definitely my favourite read of the year. 
  2. Church of Marvels by Leslie Parry (Ecco). Reading Leslie Parry’s debut novel was like looking through a kaleidoscope at turn-of-the-century New York City - vivid, breathtaking and utterly enchanting. With exquisite plotting and luminous prose, Parry leads her readers through the whirlwind lives of three strangers whose stories become increasingly intertwined as more of their secrets are revealed. 
  3. Uprooted by Naomi Novik (Macmillan). Reminiscent of Grimm’s fairy tales, Uprooted weaves a bold new world out of old legends and folk tales. I loved Novik’s unlikely heroine, Agnieszka, and her struggle to come to terms with her own greatness.
  4. Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver (HarperCollins). Sisters Dara and Nick face estrangement and frightening revelations after a terrible accident. Oliver’s writing was thrilling and addictive, resulting in an edgy novel that left me reeling.
  5. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (Penguin). I couldn’t help but fall in love with this candid, witty and heart-warming novel about love and sexual identity. Simon Spier prefers to keep all his issues and identity crises in the proverbial closet and save his drama for the school musical, until his biggest secret is discovered by the wrong person and he finds himself being blackmailed into playing wingman for the class clown.

Bev Bouwer

  1. The Shut Eye by Belinda Bauer (Bantam Press) is a tense, gripping thriller. A missing child, a psychic, a detective and distraught parents, you may forget to breathe while you read this. 
  2. The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle (Corgi Childrens Paperback) is whimsical, vivid and completely enthralling. October is the month when danger lurks for young Cara, her sister Alice, Sam and Bea, and this is a magical tale, beautifully told.
  3. The Lake House by Kate Morton (MacMillan) is an afternoon in an English country garden. The story of a Detective Constable who messes up, and then finds herself embroiled in a historical unsolved mystery. A beautiful story of family, love and loss – this was completely absorbing and an indulgent read.
  4. Big Little Lies by Sharon Bolton  (Bantam Press)  is about a child who goes missing in the eerie atmosphere of the Falkland Islands, and is told from three different points of view. The plot had twists and turns and surprises around every corner, and was a high on emotion and drama.
  5. Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter (Century) confronts the grim topic of the abduction of young girls. The characters are larger than life, the action is intense, and I was racing through this, and not wanting it to stop at the same time.

Deborah Minors

  1. Villa America by Liza Klaussmann (Picador): A meticulously researched historical novel based on real people who inspired F. Scott Gerald’s Tender is the Night. It immersed me in the zeitgeist of the 1920s/30s. It masterfully combined history and fiction into beautiful, persuasive story-telling. 
  2. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes (Penguin): This book is a masterpiece because I cared so much about Lou Clark and Will Traynor. I so wanted them to make the right decision. Heart-breaking and beautifully written. Lou and Will stayed with me for weeks afterwards. 
  3. Rebound by Aga Lesiewicz (Macmillan): The plot is ingenious and the writing pacey. Anna is a strong character grappling with the miracle and murk that 21st century dating presents for many 30-something single women. I could relate. The unfortunate incidence of murder amidst her illicit racy trysts made this a page-turner. 
  4. The Sense of An Elephant by Marco Missiroli (Picador).  I loved this little book. It is a testament to fatherhood and piety in extraordinary circumstances. It is beautifully written and there are lines that, even translated, warrant re-reading.
  5. What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures by Malcolm Gladwell (Penguin): This collection of articles from The New Yorker demonstrates Gladwell’s prowess as a narrative journalist able to distil complex research and interviews on topics as diverse as dog-training, psychology, and recruitment, into accessible, fascinating journalism.

Dawn Blankfield

  1. Disclaimer by Renee Knight. (Transworld) When truth is withheld it opens a path to manipulation and destruction. Found  the concept intriguing
  2. The Defence by Steve Cavanagh (Orion) This was a chess game on steroids! Could not put it down. 
  3. You Are Dead by Peter James (Macmillan). This engaging story has a rather creepy beginning. It then grips you throughout the investigation. 
  4. Alibaba's World by Porter Erisman (Macmillan) This is the story about the birth of the Chinese company Alibaba. It is told in a heart-warming and inspiring way. 
  5. Bully Proof by Gail Core (Struik Lifestyle) She gives insightful, practical advice on how to manage bullying in school. Useful for parents, teachers and children.

Merissa Himraj

  1. The Truth and Other Lies by Sascha Arango (Simon and Schuster Ltd) – This book with its dark humour, offers a very different view on the life of a very bad man.  Once you meet Henry Hayden, you won’t soon forget him.  This book draws you in until your own lines of good and bad, right and wrong begin to blur. Truly powerful
  2. Icarus by Deon Meyer (Hodder & Stoughton General Division) - This was my first Deon Meyer book, and all I can say is that this was magnificent. A murder, an enigmatic victim, a long forgotten deception, this story has it all.  With memorable characters like Captain Benny Griessel and Vaughn Cupido, this was nail bitingly good.
  3. Why Not Me by Mindy Kaling (Ebury Publishing) – This is a very honest witty view of the modern day celebrity.  Told with Mindy’s sharp observations, it lays bare all the ridiculousness and demands behind the glamourous lives we see.  I loved it.
  4. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee (Cornerstone) -This was not an easy read for me as Scout was a beloved character, and having to see her all grown up was difficult, as  were some of the character motivations.  However, Ms. Lee's writing has a truly remarkable way of getting under your skin. So put preconceived ideas aside and read this book.
  5. The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra by Vaseem Khan (Hodder & Stoughton General Division) - This is a refreshing escapist crime caper.  Set within a bustling Mumbai, it’s filled with characters you can't help but fall in love and a crime story that is incredibly tangible and very relevant in today’s world. Well worth the read.

Donna Radley

  1. World Gone By by Dennis Lehane (Little, Brown) Dennis Lehane is so good, it's unsettling. Joe Coughlin, the goose that lays the golden egg for the Mafia, learns that someone in the Family has taken out a contract on his life. Will he escape, or will his son be made an orphan? The plot is masterful, the characters credible, and the loss the reader feels achingly real. 
  2. Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum (Mantle) This literary novel is an awful kind of brilliant. The story of Anna, a foreigner in Switzerland, is structured like a labyrinthian spiral that allows one to both witness the devolution of Anna's life, and learn progressively how she got there. Despite the pace being slow, the suspense was palpable and Essbaum kept me guessing until the last line.
  3. Middle School: My Brother Is a Big, Fat Liar by James Patterson and Lisa Papademetriou (Young Arrow) I just loved how entertaining and creative this book was. The underdog-wins-the-day storyline is exactly what would appeal to young readers, and it felt like Patterson and Papademetriou hit the sweet spot with each plot beat. 
  4. Time of Death: by Mark Billingham (Little, Brown) This is the thirteenth book in Billingham's DI Tome Thorne series, and it doesn't disappoint. The realistic interaction between characters, well-crafted red herrings, and Thorne's interesting character make for an enjoyable read. 
  5. Before the Fire by Sarah Butler (Picador) This is a coming of age tale gone wrong and details how the characters grapple with the aftermath of loss. What makes this story interesting is that it is Butler's 'narrativisation' of the Manchester riots of 2011, which makes her characters clever personifications in her exploration of people's relationship to place. 

Veerle Vijverberg

  1. The Duff by Kody Keplinger (Hodder Children’s Books). This hilarious story involves everything going through a teenage girl’s mind; especially the common concept of feeling like a Designated Ugly Fat Friend.
  2. Girl Online by Zoe Sugg (Penguin) This is an exciting tale about a young blogger’s crazy adventures in New York. It is in my top 5 as it is relatable and it involves any girl’s biggest dreams coming true at the same time.
  3. Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (Penguin) is a nail-biting story from the perspective of a teenage boy struggling to come out in his judgemental community. This is so diverse and witty that it absolutely needed a space in my top 5.
  4. Writing in the Sand by Helen Brandon (Usborne Publishing) is a breath-takingly mysterious story about an unexplained abandoned baby and the confusing life that his mother now has.
  5. The Apple Tart of Hope by Sarah Moore Fitzgerald (Orion Children’s Books) involves the story of Oscar Dunleavy, who is missing, presumed dead. His best friend, Meg, will stop at nothing to find him.

Tammany Barton

  1. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes This book still haunts me. Lingering thoughts of Lou and Will Traynor’s unconventional love story leaves me breathless. Beautifully written and capturing the honest pain of the heart.
  2. On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft by Stephen King. After a lifetime of imagining the life of one of the most prolific writers, he offers us a window to his soul. His peculiar charm and honesty on every page reveals his hidden monsters. Most fascinating book of 2015
  3. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. This is a book of gentle tips and honest conversation about unleashing the magic in your life. Brilliant for all ages to play with the concept of unlocking fear. Her question “Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?  Your answers will astound you.
  4. The Day The Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt. Magical and entertaining even for an oldie like me. What a fun and energetic book. Clever and easy to read for all young readers. 
  5. Byleveld: Dossier Of A Serial Sleuth by Hanlie Retief.  Wow! Set in South Africa, it definitely hit home hard with our most famous detective, Piet Byleveld. Intensely written and hard to close. The horrific stories and murders are written with absolute truth and genius, never once insulting the reader.  Read it, I dare you!

Justine Cullinan

  1. Black Brain, White Brain-Is intelligence skin deep? by Gavin Evans (Jonathan Ball). A compelling argument backed by a plethora of fascinating scientific and social research.  This is a book that should have been written years ago, should be prescribed in every school and should be canonised as a must-read so that people can finally understand where racism stems from.
  2. Dust by Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor (Granta). For its rich and descriptive use of the English language and for the author's ability to bear her soul.
  3. The Angel and the Cad: Love, Loss and Scandal in Regency England by Geraldine Roberts (Macmillan) I admire the research that was done to uncover the story of Catherine Tylney Long and the author's careful polishing of the characters to make them shine as a story together.

Ulrike Hill

  1. Day Four by Sarah Lotz (Hodder & Stoughton) A cruise ship veers off course and the events will have you guessing what will happen next. The storyline is so tightly wound that I found myself unable to put this book down.
  2. How South Africa Works by Jeffrey Herbst & Greg Mills (Macmillan). The authors make claims about the lack of economic progress in South Africa, backed by data that at times make the future seem like a looming apocalypse.
  3. Things a Little Bird Told Me: Creative Secrets from the Co-Founder of Twitter by Biz Stone (Macmillan). Biz Stone writes a fascinating account about how he ended up as one of the founders of a multi-billion dollar business. The key message: creativity is important. An inspirational book for start-ups.

Judy Ward

  1. Find me by Laura van den Berg (Del Rey). This is a debut novel with so much power in the writing. The New York Times called it "pleasingly strange” which describes it perfectly. It’s weirdly unsettling, a little bizarre and achingly sad. It’s a coming-of-age journey in a dystopian futuristic setting with exquisite writing, dark humour and hope. It’s a book that stays with you long after you turn the final page.
  2. Things a little bird told me – secrets of success from the co-founder of twitter by Biz Stone (Pan Macmillan). He is one of TIME magazines “most influential people in the world” - but he didn’t start out that way. Biz Stone tells his story with a charming honesty and sense of humour. I loved the behind the scenes history of the birth of twitter, but more than that the way his creative idealism changed his approach to business. Great fun to read and so full of inspiration.
  3. All the Light we cannot see by Anthony Doerr (Fourth Estate). The lives of a blind French girl and an orphaned German boy are connected by the quirks of fate and circumstance at the end of WW2 in this moving and beautifully told tale of things hidden and revealed. I was transported by the atmosphere and all the characters. Storytelling at its best.
If you want to follow our reviews, please 'like' our book review page on Facebook, The Bluestocking Review. Please share your favourite five books in the comments section below.


    Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate

    December Writing Prompts

    I hope you enjoyed your October and November prompts. December is almost here and we're looking forward to some time off, which is good news because more time means more time to write. Or procrastinate. 

    Even if you take a break from your novel, try to spend 10 minutes a day on a prompt. It's good for the soul and great for writing practice.

    Happy writing. 

    Remember that you can send an email to news@writerswrite.co.za with the words DAILY PROMPT in the subject line. We will add you to the mailing list and you will receive a daily prompt.   

    If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg. Please email news@writerswrite.co.za for more details.

     by Mia Botha

    If you enjoyed this post, you will love:

    1. The Pros And Cons Of Writing In Second Person
    2. The Pros And Cons Of Writing In First Person
    3. A View To A Skill


      Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate

      An Unforgettable Way To Surprise Someone 
Who Loves To Write

      Are you looking for a unique, personal and possibly life-changing gift for a relative, friend, or work colleague who wants to write? 

      Sometimes that person needs a chance to follow their dreams. They may want to see if writing is a viable career choice, or they may be looking for a fun, creative hobby to pursue. 

      If you think they want to explore the world of writing, why not buy one of our writing courses as a gift?

      You can choose from our creative writing courses, social media and blogging courses, as well as our business courses. A full list of courses is available here. We do have dates for the various courses throughout the year.

      Want to know more?
      1. Please send an email to news@writerswrite.co.za with the name of the course you are interested in and we will send you a detailed outline. Please look through this and see if it is what you are looking for.
      2. If you choose to purchase a voucher, please send us the name of the course as well as the details of the person receiving the voucher.
      3. We will send you an invoice with payment details. Once we receive proof of payment, we will issue an attractive, official Writers Write gift voucher, which you will receive via email. 
      4. You can print this voucher and give it to them or simply email it to the recipient. They will then contact us to book their course on a date that suits them.
      5. The vouchers are valid for one year from the date of issue. 

      If you need to know anything else, please send an email to news@writerswrite.co.za.

      Our online courses will be available early in 2016 and vouchers will also be available for this option.


        Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate

        The Pros And Cons Of Writing In Second Person – It’s Not Me. It’s You.

        A week ago I discussed writing in first person. As I said, the rules are there to be manipulated and this week I’d like to discuss second person. There is a trend towards using second person in parts of a story, but only you will know if that works for your story.  

        It is not for the faint of heart, the sissies, the doubters, the haters. It is there for those who don’t ask questions, who don’t doubt, who are either literary geniuses or blissfully ignorant. If you get it right, it is beautiful. If you get it wrong: hugs all round. 

        This is not easy and I am hesitant to include examples, but here we go:
        Example One
        You want this. You want him. You lean closer. His breath is warm on the back of your neck. You shiver as he trails small kisses down your shoulder. His hands are warm as they span your waist. You close your eyes. You turn around and press closer as you wrap your arms around his neck and pull his head down to yours. You don’t open your eyes. This is too perfect. You could never have imagined, ok, you did imagine. Plenty of times, but this is just amazing.  His lips are soft. He devours you. You’ve wanted this for so long. He pulls back, tapering off with small kisses. His hand loose on your hips. You smile and slowly open your eyes. 
        He frowns and takes his hands away. “Who did you think it was?”
        Example Two
        You wait, you slow your breathing and time the beats. The little red spike bounces across the screen in a perfect pattern. Each beep confirming the presence of life. You flex your fingers, mimicking the rhythm of the heart as you inhale and plunge your hand into the gaping hole. Your fingers slip around the pulsing muscle and nestle in the soft tissue below. You pull. The heart detaches and pulses a last time and shudders as the severed arteries empty themselves into nothingness. 
        “Nurse, the jar please.” You look closer. “This is a fine specimen.” 
        The heart plops into the jar with a gentle bounce. You turn to your patient and cover him with the blue sheet. Wiping your elbow on his chest to catch a mischievous drop of blood.
        Can you see what second person does?
        1. It creates an intrusive intimacy, a closeness with your reader that is, well, shudder-inducing. It reels you in and then it climbs inside. Some say first person is the closest you get. But, for me, second person takes it a step further or should that be closer? I can distance myself from first person; that ME isn’t me. But, when the YOU is used, it is almost too close. 
        2. This has a vice-versa effect. It is also easier to distance yourself. Weird, right? You won’t feel connected to what is happening because you might not be able to relate to the scenario. Remember what I said about literary genius?
        3. You also run the risk of confusing your reader and it can become exhausting and feel relentless. Many people simply don’t like it. I enjoy it. I like getting freaked out, but only for a little while. 
        If you want to experiment, try a prompt in a viewpoint you aren’t comfortable with. Write the same scene in first, second, and third person. It’s amazing how the focus changes with each viewpoint.

        If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg. Please email news@writerswrite.co.za for more details.

         by Mia Botha

        If you enjoyed this post, you will love:

        1. The Pros And Cons Of Writing In First Person
        2. A View To A Skill
        3. November Writing Prompts


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          Please Nominate Writers Write

          Do you think Writers Write should be nominated for Writer's Digest 101 Best Websites for 2016?

          If you do, we've made it easy for you. We've created a sample email for you to send to Writer's Digest to nominate us.If you want to add anything to what we've written, please do so.

          Email example:

          Subject: 101 Websites

          Dear Writer's Digest

          I want to nominate Writers Write (www.writerswrite.co.za) for Writer's Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers 2016. I believe they should be on the list. They deserve it. Thank you so much for considering my choice.

          Kind regards
          Your name

          Please send your emails through to Writer's Digest. We love what we do, and we hope you enjoy our posts. We will be grateful for every nomination you send.

          Happy Writing!


          Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate

          All You Need To Know About Reflexive Pronouns

          Nouns are words that name a person, an object, or an idea. Pronouns are substitutes for nouns to avoid repetition in a sentence. We have four types of pronouns:

          1. Personal pronouns indicate a person or group. Examples: he, she, they
          2. Possessive pronouns indicate ownership. Examples: his, hers, theirs
          3. Relative pronouns introduces dependent clauses in sentences. Examples: who, whoever, that, which, when, where, whose
          4. Reflexive pronouns refer back to the subject of the sentence. Examples: himself, herself, myself

          This infographic shows us how to use reflexive pronouns in detail.

          Source for Poster: Grammar.Net

          If you want to learn how to write for business, join us for  The Plain Language Programme.

           by Amanda Patterson. Follow her on Pinterest,  Facebook,  Google+,  Tumblr  and  Twitter.  

          If you enjoyed this post, read:

          1. The Passive Voice Explained
          2. Three Nagging Grammar Questions Answered
          3. 30 Examples To Help You Master Concord

          Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate

          5 Things Authors On Facebook Should Know

          15 or 20 years ago, if you wanted to tell your favourite author how much you loved their last book, you had to write a letter or send an email. I remember writing to some of my favourite romance authors. I was always so excited to get a reply.

          Social media has forever changed the way authors and fans connect, engage and interact. Social is what the word implies: a fun community of friends or like-minded people. That’s why Facebook is a like an online coffee shop where writers can simply ‘hang out’ with their readers — it’s immediate, personal, interactive

          Here are five things fans either Like or Ignore on your author page:
          1. Ghost writer?
          Like: Fans like it when the author takes time to talk them. It validates their investment in you and brings them closer to your brand. Truth is they don’t buy your books — they’re buy into you as an author.
          Unfollow: Fans will unfollow the ‘ghost’ author who doesn’t update their page regularly. Yes, as an author, social can be a time suck — so decide if you want to do it twice daily or even weekly. Set a diary for your posts. Think of it as a date with friends and keep the appointment.
          2. Who are you?
          Like: Fans like it when you share your journey as a writer — the joys, the frustrations … the silly moments even. They want to feel engaged. So ask them their opinions. ‘My heroine just had the worst date in history — what was your most awkward moment on a date?’ Re-post or comment to as many as you can.
          Unfollow: Fans will stop following you if all you’re doing is selling or pushing your product in their faces. Avoid the ‘Buy my book for 99c on Amazon today’ approach. Similarly, avoid telling fans how brilliant you are or re-posting good book reviews. One is enough.
          3. Is anybody out there?
          Like: Fans feel comfortable with you as an online persona when your posts are consistent. If you’re a thriller writer, they love hearing your thoughts on crime: your blogs on serial killers or women in the police force. If you’re writing chick lit, they like your links to articles on dating or your fashion boards on Pinterest.
          Unfollow: Fans will unfollow you if your page is ‘schizophrenic’. If you’re a romance writer, they’ll feel confused if you suddenly start posting about the political strife in the Middle East. If you post your political or religious views, they may even be offended by your viewpoint and unfollow you. Permanently.
          4. Here we are now. Entertain us.
          Like: Fans like it when you give them content — when you entertain, inspire, or intrigue them. They especially like pictures — so share the cover mock-up of your new book, share the embarrassing dress or hairstyle of your high-school dance in a Throwback Thursday post.
          Unfollow: Fans will unfollow you if you don’t give them a glimpse into your personal life or your writing days — nobody likes a standoffish friend or mystery figure. You community will grow in line with the content you give them. Who doesn’t want more fans?
          5. No Facebook page is an island.
          Like: Fans like it when they have somewhere to go after engaging with you on Facebook — so give them your Twitter handle, or link to other social media sites you’re active on. They like to visit your blogs or your webpage.  Make sure you have ‘buy links’ to your books. Or let them know when you’re appearing at a bookshop as part of your author tour.
          Unfollow: Fans will become frustrated if all you have a ‘shop front’ with nothing behind it. Of course, not every Like translates into a sale — but most people want somewhere where they can have a browse and decide if they want to buy or not.
          If you get it right, an author or fan page on social media can build a great platform for your brand as a writer. If you don’t, well, then all you’re left with is a stale, bitter cappuccino in that social coffee shop.

          If you want to learn how to blog and write for social media, please email news@writerswrite.co.za for more information.

           by Anthony Ehlers

          If you enjoyed this post, read:


          Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate

          23 Wonderful Quotes About Children for Universal Children's Day

          The United Nations marks Universal Children’s Day on 20 November each year. It is a special event to honour and protect children around the world. 

          20 November marks the day on which the Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, in 1959, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, in 1989. The day was declared to protect children from long working hours and dangerous situations in the workplace, as well as to give every child the right to an education. 

          Every country allocates a day that suits it to mark the occasion. In South Africa, Children’s Day is observed on the first Saturday in November.

          23 Wonderful Quotes About Children

          1. Children must be taught how to think, not what to think. ~Margaret Mead
          2. Children begin by loving their parents; as they grow older they judge them; sometimes they forgive them. ~Oscar Wilde
          3. In this modern world where activity is stressed almost to the point of mania, quietness as a childhood need is too often overlooked. Yet a child's need for quietness is the same today as it has always been--it may even be greater--for quietness is an essential part of all awareness. In quiet times and sleepy times a child can dwell in thoughts of his own, and in songs and stories of his own. ~Margaret Wise Brown
          4. I think when you become a parent you go from being a star in the movie of your own life to the supporting player in the movie of someone else's. ~Craig Ferguson
          5. Children aren't colouring books. You don't get to fill them with your favourite colours. ~Khaled Hosseini
          6. Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy. ~Robert A. Heinlein
          7. Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book. ~Marcus Tullius Cicero
          8. Children are made readers on the laps of their parents. ~Emilie Buchwald
          9. It's a funny thing about mothers and fathers. Even when their own child is the most disgusting little blister you could ever imagine, they still think that he or she is wonderful. ~Roald Dahl,
          10. You'll love your children far more than you ever loved your parents, and -- in the recognition that your own children cannot fathom the depth of your love -- you come to understand the tragic, unrequited love of your own parents. ~Ursula Hegi
          11. My best advice to anyone who wants to raise a happy, mentally healthy child is: Keep him or her as far away from a church as you can. ~Frank Zappa
          12. A person's a person, no matter how small. ~Dr Seuss
          13. There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children. ~Nelson Mandela
          14. All children mythologise their birth. It is a universal trait. You want to know someone? Heart, mind and soul? Ask him to tell you about when he was born. What you get won’t be the truth: it will be a story. And nothing is more telling than a story.  ~Diane Setterfield
          15. A child is a curly, dimpled lunatic. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
          16. When you want to teach children to think, you begin by treating them seriously when they are little, giving them responsibilities, talking to them candidly, providing privacy and solitude for them, and making them readers and thinkers of significant thoughts from the beginning. That’s if you want to teach them to think. ~Bertrand Russell
          17. Children are knives, my mother once said. They don’t mean to, but they cut. And yet we cling to them, don’t we, we clasp them until the blood flows. ~Joanne Harris
          18. When mom and dad went to war the only prisoners they took were the children. ~Pat Conroy
          19. In the United States today, there is a pervasive tendency to treat children as adults, and adults as children. The options of children are thus steadily expanded, while those of adults are progressively constricted. The result is unruly children and childish adults.  ~Thomas Stephen Szasz
          20. If you want to see what children can do, you must stop giving them things. ~Norman Douglas
          21. Don't worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you. ~Robert Fulghum
          22. The value of marriage is not that adults produce children, but that children produce adults. ~Peter De Vries
          23. Two worst things as can happen to a child is never to have his own way - or always to have it. ~Frances Hodgson Burnett

          If you enjoyed this, read Six Ways To Find The Children's Story Only You Can Tell and Writing Children's Books - A Cheat Sheet. If you want to learn how to write for children, join us for Kids Etc,

           chosen by Amanda Patterson. Follow her on Pinterest,  Facebook,  Google+,  Tumblr  and  Twitter.  


          Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate

          Don’t Follow the Crowd – 3 Ways To Build Your Own Genre

          A few weeks ago, a friend who is a social media editor, posted on Facebook that vampire stories are no longer popular — ghost stories are the new vogue. Great, you think. I’ll write a ghost story that’ll sell a million copies. By the time your ghost story hits the shelves, the fad will have exhausted itself and you’ll have missed the boat.

          Today’s fiction market is crowded and competitive. To stand out, you need to have a fresh, bold, or radical voice — and that doesn’t come from following the crowd. It comes from being a pioneer and being willing to risk failure.

          So how can you look at genre through a new lens?
          1. Dust off your reading history. List all the genres you loved in the past. Did you love family sagas? Or college romance novels? Maybe sci-fi? Why did you stop reading them? How can you make them relevant for today’s reader? Perhaps those college romances could deal with sex more honestly or radically. Maybe that family saga can be told from a teenager’s viewpoint as a Young Adult novel.
          2. Look behind the headlines. Topical news stories can give you great ideas for genre. What's going on in the world around you? What would a spy novel look like today — would it be less James Bond and more Julian Assange? Could a fantasy classic like Lord of the Rings be about a group of characters trapped inside a dangerous virtual reality game?
          3. Draw ‘em from a hat. Why not set yourself a challenge? Write the names of the last 12 novels you've read on slips of paper and drop them in a hat or box. Draw three at random and write a short 50-word synopsis for a novel that combines all three. Then draw three more … So maybe you'll end up with Raymond Chandler’s PI Marlowe taking on the role of Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby with Daisy as the murder victim — only she’s the blond teenage boy in Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice and oh, just for fun, set the book in Berlin during WW2. Would that reinvent the lurid PI novel with a strong literary thread? Who knows? You won’t know until you try.
          The other route

          There’s a saying: If you can’t be first, be better. I guess that’s another way of looking at it. Let’s go back to that ghost story. Say you decide to write it and make it better than any of the other titles out there — well, a good story will always get you a readership. Cream, as another well-worn saying goes, always rises to the top.

          If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg. 

           by Anthony Ehlers

          If you enjoyed this post, read:


          Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate

          The Pros And Cons Of Writing In First Person

          Last week I wrote about some of the different viewpoints, this week I want to discuss first person in more detail. 

          The more I study viewpoint the more apparent it becomes that there is no right or wrong. But there are pros and cons and whether or not they are pros or cons depends on you, the writer. I know, right? Can't somebody just give me a solid rule that will solve all my issues? 

          Here is an example of first person:
          She walked like beauty in the night, but in the harsh light of day, she was a bitch. She also happened to be my wife. You’d think I’d have figured this out before committing to a lifetime of misery, but she was a clever one. So subtle. So sly.

          Looking back, I don’t know how I missed the signs. The well-meaning advice. The misunderstandings. The way she whittled away at my friends. Alienated my family, one honest comment at a time. It was the little things. The things you wouldn’t notice until it was too late. But, I am saving myself. Just in time.
          Here are the pros and cons of using it:
          1. It allows you to dive into a character’s mind. It gives you unlimited access to their thoughts and feelings. Good, yes? But it can also become all-consuming and exhausting. 
          2. It limits your access to other characters’ thoughts and feelings. You can write in multiple first persons, but you have to make sure that the characters don’t sound the same. I’d love to hear what his wife has to say… You can’t rely only on using the character’s name as the heading of the chapter to do it for you. I don’t even read that and then I have to page back to figure out who is talking. 
          3. Your character can’t be everywhere and he can’t hear everything. Multiple viewpoints will also help you here, but with a bit of a brainstorm you can think of other ways to show the story without having to resort to that. Eavesdropping on conversations can help him or her learn secrets. Snooping is great. Use cell phones and computers for your character to find out about things when he or she hasn't been present. 
          4. Your character shouldn’t be alone for too long. I’d say this for all viewpoints, but especially for first person. You’ll lapse into pages of interior monologue, angst, and explanations that can…yawn…put your reader to sleep. It makes you tell. Show me, please. 
          5. Always with the 'I'!  Besides making your character sound like an egotistical maniac, your sentence structure can become repetitive. Be careful of starting every sentence with I. Use fragments, play with your word order. Be creative. 
          6. Your story is told through one person’s perspective. This can limit your story, because your character might not have the vocabulary or skill set or experience to tell the story. Think of children, people with learning difficulties or very naïve people. All of these have been used brilliantly, so I go back to the introduction. You can do anything, as long as you do it well. 
          7. Are you able to distance yourself from your character? Does it sound like you when you write? I am not talking about your style. I am talking about author intrusion. No preaching please. Or should you be reading the memoir posts? 
          I love first person. It is also the viewpoint most people write in when I put them on the spot. (I am evil like that, but it tells me so much about their writing.) 

          Always make sure you know whose story it is you want to tell and work from there. Happy writing. 

          If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg. Please email news@writerswrite.co.za for more details.

           by Mia Botha

          If you enjoyed this post, you will love:

          1. A View To A Skill
          2. November Writing Prompts
          3. Don’t Get Stuck! Use Our NaNoWriMo Brainstormer Worksheet Instead


            Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate