Thursday, January 22, 2015

Finding Your Passion ... by Darla Bartos

Switching to fiction presented me with any number of problems, but the greatest was why I couldn’t seem to get published.

As a magazine and newspaper reporter and columnist, I’d always been published. And with a by-line. So what was wrong now? I wrote a few completed books but never quite hit the mark. What was lacking?

Then, I heard the magic words. “Find … your … passion.” Too simple, really. I’d heard it before. But I realize now that hearing the words at the right moment from the right person is key.

Find your passion? I was passionate about my children. Then the proverbial bolt hit me. Aha! Africa. I was passionate about Africa. We’d lived there in the late 70s with a swimming pool and tennis court. Nelson Mandela was in prison for being a communist and apartheid was in full swing.

In 2000, I flew back to Africa to visit my daughter’s godmother who had been in a head-on collision. During her recovery, I met the new group of nuns and decided to stay a while and volunteer in Malamulele. Sometimes there was no running water and no electricity, but I stayed for six months. I was hooked. Over the last 15 years, I returned often to volunteer. The last time I was there, I stood amazed at the school, which had grown from two rooms to a campus of sixteen buildings.

As I began to think about what I loved, what moved me about the people who took me in, I realized what I had to do. I also realized why I wasn’t hitting the mark with my writing. I hadn’t been fully invested in the earlier books. I’d only been practicing.

My next book I set in South Africa. I wanted to write a crime novel. Could I create a murder in an imaginary convent? Characters floated through my head and a world appeared!

I had practically finished this lovely little murder mystery when one day I was perusing the Star newspaper, where I had actually free-lanced articles a hundred years ago. Then I saw the answer. Something different. A recent murder, a young woman found in a field. Muti killing was mentioned.

As I explored the topic, I became fascinated about an area of crime I’d never heard of before. And if I’d never heard about it, having lived there, then maybe no one else had heard about it either. Maybe it would give my book a sense of direction as well as bring awareness to this type of crime tied to some African cultures.

Local Detective Baloyi and Annabelle Chase, the visiting crime reporter, surprisingly became involved and a romance blossomed right in front of the fictitious nuns.

Read more about Midnight in Malamulele on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo or Smashwords.

Send your aha passion moment to by midnight Feb. 1 and I’ll pick the best entry for a signed copy of Midnight in Malamulele! Postage included!


Darla Bartos writes murder mysteries set in South Africa. After receiving a Master’s Degree in Journalism from Columbia University, she pursued work as a crime reporter, authoring the first of her trilogy, MIDNIGHT IN MALAMULELE. Darla taught communications at Metropolitan State University of Denver and Northeastern Junior College in Sterling, CO. She raised her five children on three continents.

You can learn more about Darla and her work at her website. She can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's wonderful you were a volunteer there and got to see the school grow over the years.
Congratulations on finding your passion.

Margot Kinberg said...

Pat - Thanks for hosting Darla.

Darla - Thanks for sharing your 'passion moment.' I think writers absolutely have to be invested in their work if they're going to make it as good as it can be.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

What an interesting back story to the inspiration to the real story. Going to Amazon right now.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Susan -- I love it when someone responds to a post that way. Thanks from both of us!

Margot, you're so right. I do my best writing when I'm in that "I feel the passion" moment.

Alex, we all know you feel the passion, and it's great you have it for multiple things like music, movies, and writing. I say the more the better!

Darla Bartos said...

Patricia, Alex, Margot, Susan!

Thank you for allowing me to be guest blogger!
And for the wonderful comments!

Remember the contest! Feb. 1 deadline.


Darla Bartos said...

Patricia, Alex, Margot, Susan!

Thank you for allowing me to be guest blogger!
And for the wonderful comments!

Remember the contest! Feb. 1 deadline.