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?
 

Saturday, March 7, 2015

A year older, and here's to Women

*drum-rolls please*

*Thank you, very much!*

So, I am turning a year older tomorrow and I decided that it would be better to post something today as opposed to tomorrow.

And tomorrow is :
​Women have long been the pillar of society, and as we are brought into this world by mothers who nurture and protect us, I cannot help but wish the women all the strength, love and most of all hope that is needed to brave each day in their quest for a better life.

For some time, my birthday has always found me in the middle of some remote villages working, but this year, I am home and my family is well aware of the expectations I have: family dinner.

Why so?

Growing up, my mom never threw us birthday parties. I will be honest and say, that for as long as I can remember, I have never cut a birthday cake or opened up a bunch of presents, but I have always had dinner. 
Not just dinner, but family dinner and it was because on my birthday, I would request any meal and Mom would surely prepare it, and everyone would sing for me a "happy birthday song," and Mom would give me a card.

It was always simple. It is this simplicity that I want, because now I realize that Mom was always showing us what a good family is. We always sat down, prayed, and then enjoyed the meal courtesy of the birthday girl.

But, my sister, pulled a fast one on me by getting me an early gift of coffee, a good book and a sweet card. And now, Grumpy has gotten me four books (thanks to #booksfirst) and a #healthywoman magazine.

So, as we celebrate my birthday and International Women's Day tomorrow, remember to hug that wonderful woman in your life and in your own way let her know that she is not only beautiful but also cherished. 
If she is miles away, call and as you listen to her voice, relish each sound she makes and wish her a wonderful day. This may not only be for the day, but for every other day.

But, as the world remembers this day with hastags like #IWD2015 and  #PaintItPurple , I would also like to thank and appreciate the men who have always been supportive of the women in their lives.
--
Do not let anyone define you.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Running

He knew that whenever he called she would come running.
She loved him. She said so in her sleep. She told that nosy friend of her's over the phone. She updated her status on Facebook to "in a Relationship."

She had a smile that rose like the sun. It started from the center of her lips straight to her dimples and it always made him breathe. They were little tingles like the feeling he got when he held her in his arms. She would rest her head on his bare chest late in the night as the city worked overtime.

He mentioned the place and time and she came.
He never worried about the things she said or did when she was away from him, but even then, it had been two years and his heart was still the same.It leaped around her, and died when he got home.

He stood by the window watching the traffic build up along the road. He could see people rushing home from work. There were women in heels, men in flat expensive shoes, vehicles playing the loudest music, and touts shouting the routes and fare. He wanted to look at the time, but something told him not to. It had been two years and she had never shown any sign of impatience. Why should he in ten minutes?
He closed his eyes.

He could see her tears, the silent shadows that haunted her whenever they parted. She was beautiful. Her skin glowed in the sun and was as supple as her body. Every inch of her was a testament to God's creation, but it had been too long.
How would she take it? What an evil man he was for loving her so much but never fighting for her.

He looked at the time.

He loosened his tie and sat on the bed. She would come.
She never disappointed him.

He heard someone knock the door half an hour later. He rose from the bed and rushed to the door, his drink in hand.
There she was. She smiled at him and his eyes traveled the length of her beautiful body. "Did you walk here?" He asked.
"Yes, the traffic was crazy. Can I come in?"
"Not yet...listen..."
"Can't we talk inside, people might see us!"
"Let them see us, because, it's been too long and I do not deserve you after what I have done, but tonight I am doing what I should have done. Marry me."

In that moment she stretched out her arms and pulled him into the tightest hugs she could ever give him, and as her tears drenched his shirt did he truly realize how much she had been running, never away from him but always towards him and for him.

--
Do not let anyone define you.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Dear Cute Guy at the Bookshop

Hi,

So, this is awkward but indulge me for a while, will you?

You walked into BooksFirst today at 11:08am. I checked the time because I have never seen a cute guy walk into BooksFirst. I am a regular there, so that's why. You can ask Bob, William, Steven or Caleb. They are the ones in blue shirts who help you get that book you need.

You walked in like a thief does when in a mansion.

You were wearing a blue polo shirt ( I hate those stiff collars, I never liked polo shirts) and black fitting jeans. I was looking at The Last Legion by Valerio Massimo Manfredi. You know, we share the same birthday, it's just that Valerio is older, Italian and has written more books than I have.

Remember? It looked something like this:

ach

You looked around starting from the "How-To" section through to the classics. Your thumb caressed each book, making a few stops at the Mills & Boon section to admire the covers, and the Historical Fiction section where you pulled out a few books. I read the back cover text of The Last Legion five times.

I would stop to stare at you wondering when you would get to the Classics, but to my disappointment you turned at the Sci-fi section and headed straight for the 'New Releases.' I looked up and met your eyes.

You smiled and I smirked. I will admit it was a stupid thing to do, but my facial muscles were suffering from the disappointment of your movement.

You called Caleb and asked him, "Excuse me, do you have a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey?" I saw Caleb look around, but his first gaze was at Sci-fi and that's when I interrupted. I walked up to you and my bag hit you on your left hip, and you almost tipped over. It was not my intention to distabilize you. I am sorry, but why would you walk into a Bookshop and seriously ask for a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey?

So, I picked it up from the shelf and gave it to you.

You smiled and asked, "You sure know the books here, so, have you read this book? Is it good?"

I wanted to ask you, "define good?", but could not say a word because then you would feel foolish. I just met you and making you seem foolish would not be an ideal move. I said I had and you smiled and asked, "would you recommend it?"

I whispered, "Not in a million years." You must have heard me because your right hand, (where that tatoo of an eagle is, or is it a hawk) dropped the book. It landed on the floor. You picked it up and asked, "why? Everyone is talking about it?"

"Well, just because everyone is talking about it does not mean it's a good book. You know just like there was so much hype about Twilight, but there was nothing there."

"You also don't like Twilight? What do you like?"

"A list of great stuff, but listen, if you want to read it, well, go ahead, but you could start by watching the movie first, at least that would get you thinking about the trilogy."

"It's a trilogy?"

"Yes, there's Fifty shades Darker and Fifty shades Freed."

"You have read all of them?"

"Yes, and my inner goddess wanted to aim a quiver of arrows at the fact that the book exists!"

You laughed and walked out without the book. You only told me, "thanks, maybe I'll run into you again."

I said, "maybe." But, here's the thing you cute guy, I think you went ahead and bought the book. I think you went back to the shelves and got that book, even though Caleb is murm about it. It is 1:48pm and a copy of "Fifty Shades of Grey" is missing from the shelves...I know because I am looking at that blank space and wondering just how much your pursue your interests.

--
​PS: I posted this on nilichoandika too.​

Do not let anyone define you.