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Ntebogeng Mahlare Archer

πŸ˜ƒ Finally, A Newsletter And Debut Novel Sneek Peek πŸ˜ƒ

Published about 2 months agoΒ β€’Β 4 min read

Author Newsletter, Issue #1 β€’ March 2024

Maropeng: In the Ruins

CHIRP, CHIRP, CHIRP!

The relentless crickets pierced the now-still night, their rhythmic call summoning her back from the place where darkness had stolen her mind.

CHIRP, CHIRP, CHIRP!

She blinked, awakened, confused, and felt the clamminess of the warm air against her skin, mingled with sweat and filth collected from the floor of the dilapidated house. Now aware of the encompassing darkness, she tightened her grip on her legs, drawing them closer to her chest, heart thumping, remembering where she was: Maropeng, the place of ruins, the villagers called it.

Seeking refuge, she pressed herself further into the corner, but the wall was steadfast, much like the remains of the house that surrounded her.

If you’d like to find out more, keep reading πŸ™‚β€¦.

Ke a leboga

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Let me start with a big THANK YOU for subscribing to my newsletter!

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On rare occasions, I fall into the bottomless pit of overthinking things, and this newsletterβ€”which was meant to be monthlyβ€”was one such occasion πŸ˜ƒ. Nonetheless, I'm simply happy I get to send it before the end of the first quarter of 2024. And what better way to celebrate my 41st birthday than by ticking something off the never-ending' to-do list'?

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Your support means a great deal to me, and I sincerely appreciate you joining me on this journey. I hope we can stay connected through this newsletter as I pursue my goal of becoming a published author. Expect to receive quarterly newsletters while I get my feet under me.

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You may have noticed a sprinkling of non-English words throughout the newsletter. If you haven't already reached for Google Translate, allow me to assist you πŸ˜ƒ.

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"Dumela, o kae?" means "Hello, how are you?" and "Ke a leboga" means "thank you."

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Sepedi is my native language, and it's the language my characters speak before I translate their words onto the page in English. However, some expressions are best conveyed in their original language and saying "hello" simply won't do justice to the people of Dithabeng village, where the novel is set πŸ˜ƒ.

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Behind the Scenes

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I recently finished the fourth draft of my novel and sent it to a literary agent. Yay!

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Literary agents are gatekeepers of the traditional publishing industry (think Penguin Random House, MacMillan, etc.). Without them, access to publishing houses would be nearly impossible. Apart from connecting authors to publishers, they also advocate for writers and negotiate deals.

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Unfortunately, I've discovered that writing the novel and going through the many rounds of editing (including trimming my first draft from 240,000 to 120,000 words) is the easy part. And I admit that I've thoroughly enjoyed this part, though there were moments when I had to take in gulps of breath at the enormity of the work involved in publishing a book.

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Of the many difficult parts of publishing through the traditional route is soliciting literary agents to pick your book amidst the hundreds of book proposals they receive. I almost get a headache thinking about the obsessive advice I've seen around the internet about structuring a query letter so yours stands out, etc.

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In the case of the literary agent who queried my book, I was fortunate to come across another author who linked me up with their agent, so that I skipped the 'query letter' phase.

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As I've mentioned to anyone who's ever asked me how I came to write a book, the truth is that I never set out to write a book, and definitely not a fictional novel. I was so terrified of the idea that it took many months of wrestling and my husband's encouragement before I surrendered to the process. Looking back, embarking on this writing journey has been a profound learning process I would gladly go through all over again.

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As I've sat for months writing this novel, receiving feedback from my writing club (who you'll hear about before Maropeng: In the Ruins is published - yes, that's the title of the book πŸ™‚) and other readers, I've discovered more about myself as a writer. I now firmly believe in the importance of sharing this story.

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As much as I'd like to be traditionally published because of the resources of being backed by an established publishing house, I'm so grateful we live in an era where self-publishing is a viable alternative and retains certain advantages over being published by traditional publishers.

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I'm giving myself until June this year to see how the traditional route unfolds. If things don't progress on the traditional publishing side, I'm already taking steps towards self-publishing, and I'll share more about that process in future newsletters!

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As a special thank you for subscribing, I'm sharing the prologue to my debut novel, Maropeng: In the Ruins, with you! Please email me at community@ntebogeng.com, and I will send it to you.

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I would love to hear your feedback once you get a chance to read this small snippet.


Spotlight Corner

Growing up in the village of Phokwane, in Limpopo Province in South Africa, with only magazines to read if one was so lucky, and later being exposed to primarily Western literature, it's incredibly satisfying to see diverse stories being told, especially those from Africa.

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My current pick is Behold the Dreamer by Imbolo Mbue.

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The novel follows the Jongas, a Cameroonian immigrant family living in New York City, navigating life during the 2008 financial crisis. The telling seamlessly blends the Jonga's rich Cameroonian culture with their experiences in their new home as their lives intertwine with those of the Edwards, a wealthy white family when Jende is offered a job to chauffeur Clark, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers.

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Like many migrant families, the Jongas face the challenges of adapting to an unfamiliar land while clinging to dreams that, at times, feel perilously close to slipping from their grasp. The question hanging over the book is: how much suffering will one endure to hold onto dreams for a better future? And does the 'backward' African village left behind hold nothing against the shiny American dream? I highly recommend it!

Until next time,

Ntebogeng.

I'm one of the most non-participatory people when it comes to social media, but in the spirit of spreading the word, I'll be rearing my head on Instagram and Facebook from time to time πŸ˜ƒ.

If you know anyone who would like to join the newsletter, please send them to my website to subscribe. Ke a leboga!

ntebogeng.com​

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Ntebogeng Mahlare Archer

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