Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Free book to read tomorrow.

Please tell me that you love reading free ebooks, do you?

Well, there's a book I wrote three years ago- and I was just learning the ropes on online publishing and making my way along search engines and cover image creation.
It's titled "Take this Message to Rayo," and the cover image looks something like this:

​It's a story about a young girl named Mima who finds herself on the streets after her mother passes away and her father bails out on them- leaving her under the care of her brother. I had such a clear understanding of life on the streets because I was doing my community service at such a time- so, hence the inspiration for the story.

I would like you to read it.
Here's why:
  1. It is free tomorrow and Friday.
  2. You will need kindle or an eReader which you can easily download as an app on your phone or computer- just for the two days :-)
  3. It is a short story, 56 pages only! That's around twelve pages short of a newspaper!
  4. It is a story told from the viewpoint of a twelve year old.
  5. And once you are done, you can leave a much needed review- if you will be too tired to type a few words, then simply click on as many or little stars as you can to rate the book.

The book is available on this link ---> get it, free


Do not let anyone define you.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

3:AM Thoughts

If you ever find yourself awake and unable to return to sleep at 3:am then whatever you do, do not and I repeat, do not get out of bed, or so help you, you will be doomed to wander in a sea of thoughts.
I found myself awake not by default, but simply because my mind had had enough of rest and wanted to indulge me in a journey that I was not so pleased to embark on. I looked outside the window hoping to count the raindrops in the dark. After a while, I walked to the living room and sat down to write.
It has been a great week for me, because I have officially mastered the art of doing 30 squats, and twenty second wall-sits a day.
It has also been the week where everything I planned to do like clean and re-arrange my bedroom has constantly been postponed and I am afraid that today I will have to do it because I cannot find my favorite PVC eraser.
Grace is due anytime soon and we have been on the hunt for the perfect baby name for her beautiful daughter. She says that I cannot call her unborn daughter beautiful because I have not yet seen her, but I have a feeling that she would have her mother's nose and father's eyes. I had to sit down and listen to her argue with Joseph about the name of the baby. She wants something African and he wants to name her, Faith, after his mother. Grace went on a rant for close to twenty minutes and when Joseph turned to me for help, all I could say was "never argue with a pregnant woman, especially if she is your wife."
What's my take on baby names?
I don't have any really, save for the fact that I have always thought of naming my daughter (Lord, if ever I have one)- Aurora.
Yes, I want her to always get back up when she is pushed down or weighed down by life's challenges, just like dawn. There's always a new dawn. Sometimes when I ask people whether they were named after someone, I find myself seeing the other person in them.
I paced up and down the room for a while and made my way back to bed at 5am.
I thought about reading a book on Kindle, but I did not want to be all hot and bothered by a steamy romance novel at 5am.
Unable to sleep, I got out of bed and started asking myself what I would do next- and that's when it hit me that I have the ability to zone out and stay silent and that I could use it to my advantage. Over the years, whenever I have feelings that I cannot explain I always detached myself. And that's why based on my to-do list, I can write a novel titled, "Detached."
--
Do not let anyone define you.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Hold on

Hi, happy Easter holiday wherever you are!
My week has had it's ups and downs, but it was well yesterday as I attended my friend's wedding- and I am glad that she is fine and wish them all the best in their married life.

There has also been times of sorrow as we have seen students killed by a group of people who believe they are fighting a righteous course, for a God who does not advocate for violence- and it is sad even so, that we have forgotten the element of courtesy that has long been drummed in us since early childhood by posting very graphic images of this attack on social media.
I believe that this is the age of information and awareness.
Everyone is a journalist.
Everyone is a reporter.
Everyone is a story-teller.

But, not every one is humane...and it hurts me that in circulating these images- we have broken the spirit of parents, relatives and more so friends of the students who lost their lives in the #GarissaAttack. 

The dead deserve their respect, and those whose lives have been ended wrongfully do deserve their justice, and when I went online and saw mutual friends share these pictures with the statement "Type RIP", it hurt me- and it still does, because it is not about getting likes or comments to something you have posted- whoever is in that picture is someone's child just like you are- and would you want your parents to learn of your death in such a manner?

Would you want to the subject of "Type RIP"?

Would you want your loved ones to see you lying in a pool of blood,or dismembered and with people who barely know you simply sharing your picture and typing "RIP?"

I say it is not right! Do not use someone's grief to increase traffic to your social page! And to be honest, if you are my friend and you are reading this- the easiest way to lose my respect is by disrespecting other people- and posting such threads that find themselves on my wall. I will unblock you and add your posts to the spam folder.

This extends to whatsapp too- enough with the chain messages- I have literate friends who have emotions and can express them- if you cannot speak with your voice, then do not numb my intelligence with someone elses! I am done being understanding.

Freedom comes with responsibility- and you have every right to express your opinion, as I have every right not to take it as gospel truth! You have every right to speak up, but no right to be stupid. You have every right to vent your anger, but no right to burn the bridge that you are on.

And so my request is for a little humanity...think of the golden rule "do unto others as you expect others to do unto you," before you share anything online.
Someday it might be you...and for all that it's worth, I wish you the best, and pray that this weekend, we pray for those who lost their lives, and for their relatives whom we have hurt in the name of being on social media. I pray for humanity- because it is all we are killing in our attempt to be cool, but isn't it sad that the internet never forgets?

--
Do not let anyone define you.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

In good time.

I have been told that, "your voice changes with time, and so will your writing." I could have taken this as I always take in everything I discuss with my mentor, but today, I could not talk. See, I find it easy to defend myself. I know that when it comes to words, he can never beat me. I can go round in circles and he can chase me as much as he wants, but he would never catch up. But, when he pauses and says something that I have been running from- then I either defend myself or laugh it off.
In his words, "Your defense is either anger or humor, Dora. I know this much about you. You cannot fool me."
So, today...I did not feel neither a sense of anger or humor- but more of a resolution, or shall we call it acceptance? 
Here's why:
I have published a short story on Smashwords a couple of minutes ago (twelve to be exact) and it's titled Silence and Shadows. I had submitted it for some writing competition and after making some alterations, it found itself on my profile page. 
So, why this talk about writing and a voice?
I did go through my dashboard and I have over 30,000 downloads of my books- and looking at that took the life out of me for a second. I started downloading pdf versions of all the stuff I had written but could not read them. I find it very uncomfortable reading a story I have written because it feels like a memory that I had purged myself of and now I have to take it back. Now, don't get me wrong, it's just too much to take in. So, I started deleting the books that I had downloaded- and it was in this time that I realized that my first and latest stories are totally different. 
There is something about them that makes me feel as though they were written by two different people. When I asked my mentor about this, he told me that it happened to everyone- at least every person in the world. I know that no book is ever the same, because even the story is not the same, isn't that why the book is always different from the movie adaptation? The story is the same, but the scenes and setting is always enough to through an ardent reader off. I know I felt the same when I watched The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones movie, based off the book by Cassandra Clare.
The same happens to us, we encounter different situations all the time. We are constantly living in a world of forces, where we find ourselves either acting or reacting. So, it's high time I keep on doing what I can, and somehow things will make sense to. I am still the one who is writing the stories, but whatever happens is always different. Change is necessary for plot development. At the moment I am thinking of a pinch of drama, an ounce of sizzling antagonists, a piece of action, a roll of suspense, and a serving of romance...that can either be hot or chilled.
 photo woa_zps1d2161e0.png

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Water

I have some news about the next book, in the Currents series, called Water.
The first time I told my sister about it, she asked me, "who names a book, water?", and I could not help but shrug my shoulders and say "me." Yes, I have long had odd ideas and as such, this does not scare me one bit.

So, I submitted "Water," to an editor for a review and it is going great so far because he takes me back to high school where I would write an essay in blue and receive it in red.
There are so many changes to be made, it drives me mad. I also know that he is doing me a favor, one that I might be so kind as to return in the near future.

I wanted to share the cover page with you; but this is bound to be edited too, since it's the fourth cover and it has a long way to go to being perfect.
What do you think?

I have also pulled out Fire, from the online amazon store to make some revisions in the line of distribution and access. I had previously selected the Createspace store and Amazon U.S, but a few readers requested me to make it available on Amazon Europe so they could buy it- so if you are trying to access the book this weekend, I do apologize for the inconvenience. It would be available for purchase from Sunday evening.

Water is more of a build up to the story of Ustawi's life. Here is barely reached puberty, but there is more going on in Leo and he is learning just how much is expected of him. I could say that it is a turning point in the story, but wait and see, and maybe you can tell me what you think of it. I hope this book does better than Fire, but that it also makes you laugh as much as Fire did ( for those who loved Ulioko, watch out, he's not stopped drinking the royal wine here).

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Why I will cease borrowing books from the Kenya National Library here in Kisumu.

There are new membership rules at the library.
So, if you are a member of any KNLS branch in Kenya, then you must have noticed the changes.
First, the annual membership fee has been scrapped off, and this means that the library is open to anyone. I love this new move because it means that people can read as often as they want by simply walking into the library. Before this, if you did not have a membership card you would pay twenty shillings to access the library.

Now, if you want to borrow any book, you will pay twenty shillings to read it for two weeks. So, I took a step back when I heard this and thought, why?
I asked the librarian why these new rules were in place, and he said, "this is happening in all the libraries, it is a new policy."
I was not satisfied, and so I asked him to explain it to me, why would I pay to borrow books?
He could not answer me.
He shrugged his shoulders and at this point I started feeling confined, you know like I was in a lift full of people. I hate being in lifts.

So, now, book loan charges are twenty shillings per book for a reading period of two weeks. It means you pay forty shillings for the usual two books that you can check out. I asked him why they would not increase the number of books to five, and he said that it was not in his place to decide.

Here's my beef with this new rule: I read six or nine books within two weeks. Previously, I would make four or five trips to the library, but now I would make the same while incurring an extra cost of at least one hundred shillings, and that does not go down well with me!

But, this also means that the library would make money to probably sustain them, but my question is, why must it be at my expense? Why couldn't they increase my annual membership fee? I would gladly pay a one time sum instead of bits of money, as long as it means that I would have an unlimited access to the books.

This new move also means I can choose to read in the library, and if I do that, there's the issue of space. The other readers will do this, and the library in Kisumu is not as spacious as the one in Nairobi and that is an inconvenience.

I would recommend increasing the annual membership fee as long as it comes with unlimited access to books or increasing the number of books on loan to five, so that the cost incurred within a period of two weeks is solely dependent on what the reader wants.

PS: I have attached a screen shot of these new rules.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Wandering

I was asked to write a short author's bio for some article I had submitted in a competition.
I thought about it while in a matatu from Kisian to Kisumu, and when I got to the house all I could come up with was:
"Dora is a full time wanderer who dreams of becoming a Professor one day. Of what? She doesn't know, but she loves reading and can be spotted at Java sometimes taking coffee. To follow her journey, check out her profile @herhar."
I thought that was not such a serious depiction and so I went for something like:
"Dora lives in Kenya. She loves reading and writing, and hopes to get better at writing if not now, then maybe tomorrow. She can't wait forever you know. To follow her in this awesome quest check out her profile +dora okeyo."
I have since written thirteen drafts and let's just say that nothing comes close to all the stuff I want to say. One thing is true, that I am a wanderer. I am neither her nor there, and I have perfected the art of being elusive especially to my friends of late. Grace complained. Joseph complained. I told them the best way to draw me out of hiding was to invite me to coffee at Java. They did so, and I spent less than twenty minutes with them.
Why?
I am working on a lot of things, but am nowhere near completing even one of them.
This bio has been eating me up today because it's like writing a tweet. I have to talk about myself in less than one hundred words and it's at such time that I realize I have over a thousand words.
 
You know, there are times when the pressure is on you to deliver something and you freeze. I have often used this in my stories. When say characters reach a breaking point and the woman asks the man, "give me one good reason why I should believe you!" And the man freezes. 
He opens his mouth to say what he feels when he is with her, or how he cannot explain why she is angry at him and what he's done. Before he knows it, she has walked out on him and he's single.
 
Crazy, but true.
All it took was one request: "Please submit an author's bio of less than 200 words."
 
I thought about it while sitting on a sambaza from Kisian to Kisumu. I have written a total of fifteen drafts and am still awake as my mom watches "Married Again" ( an Indian drama on Zee World), thinking of what to write and how it will come across. Will it truly depict me?