Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Mission Accomplished!

The time has come for me to share with you, dear blogger friends, what I have been doing for the past three months.

Before leaving South Africa, I signed up for an online course in Magazine Journalism. On 12 April, my first full day back in our Khartoum flat, I started my course. It comprised of ten modules and you have twenty weeks in which to complete it. I finished the course in nine weeks as I was concerned I may have to leave the Sudan after my three months' visa expired. I needn't have worried because Issam (general manager of the company) obtained my permanent residence in the country two weeks ago! 

As a student, I was issued with a username and password and downloaded the course from the link supplied.  All ten modules. I only downloaded the first module and steadily worked through it. Once I'd done all the assigments and sent them via e-mail to my tutor in Cape Town, I filed my copies in a folder appropriately marked - Module One - Completed. Only then did I return to the writing college website and download the second module. This is the difference between me and my significant other! He says he'd have scanned through all the modules and then returned to number one, opened it and started. When I receive a parcel in the mail, I leave it unopened on my desk or on the kitchen counter until I have time to savour the surprise. If my darling husband is anywhere around, he walks past my desk, lifts the parcel and waving it in my direction asks when I will be opening it. LOL!

OK back to the course. It was the most enjoyable and user-friendly course I have ever done. (And I've done a few) My tutor was a sweet forty-something lady who knows her stuff. She was strict yet always cushioned the critique with a positive comment. In fact she complimented me often and was always there to build me up when I didn't do so well in an assignment. (Yes, this did happen a few times!)

The best part of the training was that by the middle of the course, you decide on a topic for your article. In the remaining six modules you are shown how to tighten your writing (use less words to say more - lol!)  and make your subject appealing and interesting. You learn how to interview people; I did mine  via e-mail which worked very well,  and you learn to research your subject on the Internet. You are also taught to write a query letter which is how you market /promote your article . The college's claim to fame is that many of their past students have been published in magazine once they'd completed the course.

While I waited for the final draft of my article to be marked by my tutor, I sent a query letter to an adventure magazine. I offered the editor another article about our motorbike trip undertaken in November last year. Grant and I had travelled across three countries, covered a distance of 6000 kms /3750 miles, stayed over in many interesting places and saw dozens of birds. (Birding is one of the reasons we travel, apart from the bike ride) My article was accepted with ten photos of our trip and  will be published sometime in the next month or two in South Africa.  (Whoo-hoo)

Below I've added a few photos of the motorbike trip.  
Our loaded BMW motorbike parked on the bridge with the great Orange River (Northern Cape) as a backdrop

With no fences in Botswana, the animals wander across the road at will. We often passed elephant dung on the side of the road (you can see it  just behind Grant) There were also signs announcing "This is white lion country" Adrenaline pumping stuff.

Grant on the Tropic of Capricorn in Namibia

Welcoming committee back home in Marquard

Meanwhile, my tutor returned my last module and the assessment of my work over course (End result 84%)  The college principle wrote and congratulated me and offered to send my certificate to my home address in South Africa.  She said she loved my article which is entitled: "The advantages of attracting birds and wildlife to your garden."

Below I added a few photos of my garden which features largely in my article written on the course.

My garden (before) in April 2003

My garden, above and below, summer 2010

My ponds are a great attraction to birds, bees, dragonflies, butterflies and frogs.
Sweet thorn (Acacia karoo) in full bloom. The flowers attract bees, butterflies and other insects, which, in turn, attract insectivorous birds. The perfect food chain

Last week I submitted my query letter to a leading gardening magazine in South Africa. The editor replied on Monday and asked for a few low res photos and a sample of my work. She has to show it to the editorial team and will get back to me later this week. 

So that, my friends, is my excuse!

Thanks for being so patient and still visiting my blog even though I couldn't always get to visit and comment on yours.

The Arabic for journalist is sahafa; for magazine is magella and for course is hissa


  1. Wow you are one clever lady and I too like to savour the moment for opening parcels. Did your grandchildren receive my parcel yet?

  2. CONGRATULATIONS!!! I am so happy with your accomplishment my dear.

  3. Congratulations on successfully completing the course!

  4. You seem to have an ideal life! Not only thoughts, but a lovely garden to think them in! Glad I found my way back to you!

  5. OMG... JO, you have done so much these past months ... Congratulations .... How I wish I could travel as you did too... my wish ... one of these days.. as always wishing the very best of life ahead... see you often..

  6. Dear Jo,
    Congratulations! That is quite an accomplishment.
    I've been experiencing some computer problems this week so I am doing my best to catch up.
    ☼ Sunny

  7. JO---I am SO proud of you.. You ARE a great writer --and have so much to say. I'm SO glad you took the class--and will get published soon. I'm sure you will now continue to work at it--and try to get published in other magazines/periodicals. That is just SUPER.

    We all need to keep our minds alert as we age. You are doing a great job of that... By the way, you can also write articles about getting and staying healthy (since you are an expert at that).


  8. All Right! You go girl. I'm excited for you. You're following a dream. One that I rather covet myself. Maybe you've given me some inspiration to Do It.

    Mike says Hi and congrats!

  9. Mrs. Jo!
    I'm so excited for you! You have been busy and I pray you are rewarded richly. I haven't dropped by in a while - but I'm so glad I did today. I need to catch up on my reading! Congratulations, my dear!

  10. Congratulations To You sweet Lady!! I'm so Happy for you!
    Love the photos that went along with the article!!

  11. CONGRATULATIONS on your accomplishments! I am a PROUD reader of yours and I admit I learned a lot

  12. Wonderful! Now I know what your "project" was ;-) Kudos to you for finishing the course but more than that, for being published. What a wonderful accomplishment for all your work. In listening to your story about how you approached the module, I concluded I am like your husband. I would have looked at all the modules to get an overview before returning to complete the first one. I guess your union is one of opposites attracting, tee hee. Safe journeys.

  13. Congratulations on having an article accepted for publication, and congrats on finishing the course! You have been a busy lady.

  14. This is very interesting, Jo, all your efforts in doing the writing course that sounded very rigorous. I am so impressed! Congratulations on your achievement. I bet your article will be published in the gardening magazine.


Thank you for visiting my blog and taking the time to leave a comment. I appreciate your feedback. Jo