Grab your advance reader copy now!

Spirit of the Shell Man, the sequel to Song of the Sea Goddess will be released next month. Set in the same fictional town, located somewhere on the beautiful west coast of South Africa, our favourite characters return in a new adventure – Albertina and the Aunties, the Professor and little Toti, Abdu and Jannie are all back, ready to face whatever new challenges await them.

It is with the greatest pleasure that I offer you a free Advance Reader Copy from Booksprout: simply click here to download your copy and start reading.

Here’s the blurb:

“A series of strange events accompany the delivery of an unusual wooden box to the bookish Professor who lives on the hill, while down by the sleepy harbour a dusty convoy of huge earth-moving machines roll into town. Soon afterwards, an expensive-looking yacht arrives, skippered by an enigmatic sea captain, accompanied by her weird and troublesome little crew who cause chaos in Albertina’s chicken-run and wreak havoc in the posh new hair salon.

The mysterious mute captain, her nose permanently buried in an old notebook, is clearly seeking something. Meanwhile the Professor’s interest is piqued by an unusually attentive congregation of praying mantises in his back yard. Then, as construction work begins on the unspoiled hillside beyond the town’s looming headland, the disturbance of long-buried bones unleashes a grim and ghostly presence from the ancient past with the potential to destroy the tranquil little town.

Join the cast of colourful characters from Song of the Sea Goddess, as they embark on a new adventure where legend and reality intertwine, and once again they must join forces to combat a deadly threat to their otherwise peaceful lives.”

The ebook and paperback will be available to purchase on Amazon, Kobo and Google Books in March, and the recording of the audiobook is underway. I’m really excited to share my new novel with you!

Spirit of the Shell Man in paperback and on multiple reading devices

P.S. thanks so much to Paula Light of Light Motifs for her lovely review of Song of the Sea Goddess. It really made my day when I saw it this morning. Do pop over and take a look around Paula’s site!

Beta reads and re-writes

the images shows a sharpened pencil on the pages of a notebook
Jan Kahánek on Unsplash

I am indebted to my beta readers for their careful consideration of my work. Our discussions come in many forms. This was part of a whatsapp conversation between me and my loyal and gifted friend, Laurette as she burned the midnight oil reading the draft MS of Spirit of the Shell Man, the sequel to Song of the Sea Goddess, a few weeks ago.


Laurette: I just wanted to mention that it is unsafe to feed a dog grapes or raisins. I know that Toti is a monkey and wouldn’t know that.😔

Me: Oh, I didn’t know that either. I don’t want to poison the dog or lead anyone else to. I’ll have to think of something else.

a little later

Me: Are bananas okay for dogs? (asking for a monkey friend) 🐒🍌

Laurette: Bananas are safe for dogs to eat in small amounts and could help with gastrointestinal issues. However, too much banana can lead your dog to having an upset stomach and diarrhea due to the amount of extra fiber and sugar.

Me: So Toti sharing a couple of slices is fine then. Great!

Laurette: 👍

Re-write time!


Andreas serves up the two breakfasts and puts a dish containing a small bunch of grapes by the stool where Toti’s sitting. She gives him a long blink then grabs the grapes from the dish. A moment later she drops to the floor and scurries out of the back door, the bunch held delicately between her teeth. The Professor spins in his seat, the fork speared with a piece of sausage half way to his mouth. ‘Where are you going, Toti?’ he calls anxiously after her.

Andreas, who can see through the open door from where he’s standing, is quick to reassure him. ‘Don’t worry, Professor, she’s sharing her breakfast with my little skeelo friend. The Professor cranes around the edge of the counter to see Toti plucking a grape from the bunch and offering it to the scruffy little dog that Andreas has been feeding each morning for a year or more. Grinning, the Professor raises his eyebrows and returns to his breakfast.


Andreas serves up the two breakfasts and places a banana on the counter. ‘Shall I peel and slice it for you?’ he says, grinning down at Toti. She gives him a long blink then carefully picks up the banana. A moment later she drops to the floor and scurries out of the back door with it. The Professor spins on his seat, the piece of sausage speared on his fork half way to his mouth. ‘Where are you going, Toti?’ he calls anxiously after her.

Andreas, who can see through the open door from where he’s standing, is quick to reassure him. ‘Don’t worry, Professor, she’s sharing her breakfast with my little skeelo friend. The Professor cranes around the edge of the counter to see Toti breaking a piece from the now-peeled banana and offering it to the scruffy little dog that Andreas has been feeding each morning for a year or more. Grinning, the Professor raises his eyebrows and returns to his breakfast.

Phew! no animals injured.

Me and COVID plus Imagining a New Place by novelist Chris Hall

First of all, let me reassure you, I have not got the virus!

A little while ago, I was delighted to be invited to write a guest blog by writer, blogger and podcaster, da-AL. Then, just as she was preparing to publish my piece her husband came down with Covid! Thankfully he’s on the mend, and so is she, having also fallen sick subsequently.

Talking of masks, as she does, you can see one of mine on my desk in the photo of Luna, next to my ‘Pride and Prejudice’ mug. Looking at that messy desk, I could write a whole post about that. But I didn’t.

Instead, here it is, my guest post, in which I explain how my new novel came to be…

Today’s the day!

What’s in the box?

Hot off the UPS delivery truck all the way from the USA via Dubai to Johannesburg to Cape Town to me! At last, the author copies of my new novel have arrived. They seems to have been on a little book tour of their own since I ordered them from Amazon on 6th December.

But never mind. They’re here now and I’m very pleased with the look and feel of them. And the smell. Don’t you just love that when you open a brand new book?

I gave you a little opening excerpt from the book to whet your appetite last week, but today I have something special to tempt you with. It’s the recipe for Auntie Rose’s vegetable curry, which she uses to fill her famous rotis. I took a tiny peek over her shoulder when she was last making them.

Auntie Rose is always cooking up a storm. Maybe she’ll bring out her own recipe book some day!

e-book and
now available:
Rest of the World

If you’re in South Africa and would like a signed paperback sent to you, I have a few copies for you at a special price of R250,00 including P&P – just drop me a line!

When all else fails…

…visit a bookshop. One with a cat!

Bikini Books is one of my favourite second hand bookstores and fortunately it’s only a short drive from home. An added bonus is that it’s right by the ocean, with a fabulous view all the way across False Bay to Cape Point. The beach was completely empty since it, like almost every beach on our beautiful coastline, is currently closed for Covid.

It’s not the kind of store where you can go looking for a particular book. It’s a bit chaotic.

Francois and Jackie vlogs

You just have to run your eyes over the titles and wait for the books to choose you!

Here’s the book haul. All of them, apart from the art books, cost the equivalent of $3 or less, which is huge bargain, since new books are very expensive here. As always, my taste is eclectic.

I really ought to have read Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie before now: such an important book. There’s a Barbara Kingsolver, Flight Behaviour, with a climate change theme. She’s such a good writer. I’ve read La Lacuna and The Poisonwood Bible in the past and loved them both. Then there are a couple of books set in South Africa, to keep my promise of reading more books by local and Southern Hemisphere authors, Andalus by Jason Webster, who wrote Duende (another past favourite) and a collection of short stories by Sara Paretsky involving her feisty private eye, V.I. Warshawski, one of my favourite fictional characters (apart from my own, of course).

Under ‘normal’ circumstances, we would have been on a little summer break to a beautiful West Coast town on the banks of the Berg River, but the new lockdown last week scuppered that plan. Never mind. That’s what photos and imaginations are for… and, of course, books.

I’ll be taking you with me to that very town at the end of this week, when we visit the location where I wrote the first words to my new novel, Song of the Sea Goddess – available on pre-order now.

USA ~ UK ~ IND ~ AUS ~ CAN ~ ESP ~ South Africa and the Rest of the World

NaNo update #3

Week 3 came to an end all too quickly but I’m still almost on track to achieve my personal target for this ‘dedicated’ writing month. I’ve dropped a chapter behind, but it’s not a train smash. The story is shaping up nicely and a few unexpected elements have emerged. I love these kind of surprises!

Meanwhile this week, I launched the ARC for Song of the Sea Goddess – do help yourself to a copy, there are still some left. Since it’s the sequel to Sea Goddess that I’m writing now, I’ve been truly immersed in my imaginary world on the west coast. It’s an exciting place to be.

Eight more writing days left to the end of NaNoWriMo2020. I wonder what further surprises lie ahead? Apart from a planned interruption to the electricity supply for the whole of Tuesday, which is really not going to help. Ah well, this is Africa!

Have a wonderful rest of the weekend – whatever you’re up to!

ARC Invitation

This is the novel I started to write during NaNoWriMo last year. I’d already discovered a few of the key characters early on that year in a handful of short stories I wrote, set in a fictional town located somewhere on the beautiful west coast of South Africa.

Some of you might remember Albertina, Auntie Rose and Auntie Grace, Jannie, Sam and the Professor from those stories; some of you also know that my characters have a habit of plucking at my sleeve, reminding me that they more of their stories need to be told.

And so now, it is with the greatest pleasure that I can tell you that Song of the Sea Goddess is ready to share with you via the ARC: simply click here to download your copy and get started.

Here’s the blurb:

Sam thinks his problems are over when finds his fishing bucket filled with gold coins. There’s a problem though. The gold burns the fingers of anyone who touches it. His unlikely find coincides with the appearance of a mythical sea creature on the headland overlooking the town and the resumption of quarrying up in the mountains that is poisoning the streams and contaminating the town’s water supply.

Determined to keep his coins hidden, Sam goes up-river to bury them. There he encounters a beguiling young woman called Shasa, who lives by one of the tainted springs and just happens to have a fish’s tail.

As the blasting continues, the discovery of a series of recently-made drawings in the cave under the headland reveals a terrifying prophesy that will result in the earth spilling apart. Fearing for Shasa’s safety, Sam sets out find her again, only to meet the danger head on, as nature takes its revenge for the damage being wrought by humankind.

Will Sam and Shasa survive?

Set in a fictional location on the West Coast of South Africa, this moving story blends the charm of small town life with the threat of ecological disaster at the hands of a powerful force beyond human understanding.

Come the New Year the ebook and paperback will be available to buy on Amazon and I’m already excited!

Now I must get back to writing the so far untitled sequel… be right with you, Albertina!

Nano update #1

The first week is over – already! All is going well (so far). Words are flowing, characters are cooperating, and lo, I’ve even done a little bit of ‘panster planning’.

I’m embarking on the sequel to my soon-to-be-released novel and it’s certainly easier working with a core cast of fully-formed characters. New ones too, are appearing from the wings and it’s exciting getting to know them.

Here’s the mind map I’ve been scribbling, which is supplementing the jottings of my developing thoughts in a notebook. Don’t try to read my terrible handwriting. I blame it on years of note taking.

So, in summary, how am I doing?
Five chapters (almost) completed
7169 words written (all of them good ones)

Verdict: Just a handful of words shy of my target. I’m happy with that!

To NaNo or not to NaNo?

Shall I? Shan’t I? This is what I’ve been asking myself over the past few weeks. I think I vowed not to do this again at the end of last November. I’d made hard work of it, although I didn’t need to; not that I signed up for the ‘real deal’, just a modest target of 30,000 words. However, in the end, I did get half a novel almost completed within the month.

So it was worth it!

That novel is now complete. Song of the Sea Goddess is due for release early next year and, in the meantime, I shall be offering advance reader copies to any of you who’d like to read it and review it. More about this soon.

So, NaNo again?

You bet! But on my own informal personal terms like last year and the year before:

– Target 30,000 words.

– Write at least 5 chapters each week.

– Enjoy it!

That won’t be a whole novel. It will be a good start.


and Sinead and Moonsprite’s saga will continue too!

My Monday warm up with Sadje’s What Do You See will continue




Good luck to all NaNoWriMo participants!
Especially those who have committed to doing it properly.