Monday, 18 September 2017

In Search Of Paradise

Yes yes yes!
We have a book title.
 By common consensus with my survey cohort, that's the name that seems most comfortable, familiar and interesting. So now that we have a name, all we need is a book cover and of course, the actual, completed manuscript. Have you ever felt like everything is under control when it really isn't? Like I have 40 k words to write by Thursday and I am just feeling like, yeah, it will be done. I also have to finish the In search of Paradise manuscript this week and I am all over it. I mean I'm not complaining about being all Can Do! but at one point does confidence become delusion? I don't know. I guess we'll see on Thursday. Do you think this is how +Rihanna felt before she released Fenty Beauty, FentyxPuma and had the diamond ball all in the same week? Well, my work motto has always been WWRD (what would Rihanna do?) so I'm gonna assume that she had the same can-do attitude going for her.

How are you? How was your week? The Emmys were just on and a lot of bittersweet firsts happened. Bittersweet because its 2017 for crying out loud and yet we're still having the first black director getting an Emmy for Atlanta. Do you think he's the first to deserve it? I don't. First black (gay) female for comedy writing...Do you think she's the first to deserve that award? I don't. I think probably there were many who went before who were overlooked because they weren't the right gender/color. And Sean Spicer...already on his redemption tour. People laughing with him? It's nauseating. I recently followed a Nigerian writer on Twitter, Nnedi Okafor whose book was optioned for a movie (because of course, those are goals) by George R. R. Martin. Articles have been written about it in Variety, EW and what not, and the funny thing is they don't even mention her. They say 'a new Afrocentric offering from George R. R Martin. So the erasure continues. Till when guys? Till when?

Back to In Search of Paradise. It should be available for pre-order from 3rd of October. During book launch month, we're gonna do something a little bit different. We're going to raise money for charity.
Are you with me?
So the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission have agreed to partner with me in this endeavor. We're going to learn a few things about the challenges faced by the LGBTQIA community in Kenya, fundraise directly through their fundraising portal as well as all pre-order purchases going towards the fundraising. That will be our fun activity for October. Are you excited? I am soo excited. Y'all gonna help me make a difference right? Tell your friends. :)
Soon and very soon we'll have a little excerpt plus book cover reveal. Stay tuned!
Have a great week.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Health Check, How Are You Doing?

Sometimes, when something bad happens or you've had a shitty day, all you want is to tell someone about it and have them say, "Bummer."
Just to feel like someone commiserates right? Mostly what you might get is someone trying to fix you or tell you why, through quotable quotes, this too shall pass. It might make you feel not understood right? Alone in your misery?
Today you're not alone. You have me. I'm listening, I'm ready to commiserate, so talk.

It's been a strange week.
Well.
These days they are all strange weeks no?
But this week has been kind of a mental health strange week both in my surroundings and for me. First of all, I think almost two weeks ago? My alma mater had a fire in a dormitory, eight kids dead plus two security guards. It was shocking to me on a personal level because I slept in that dorm when I was a rabble (in form one or the first year of high school). It was the rabble dorm for green house and yellow house and I was in green house. It's the oldest dormitory in the school, which means it's been up for however long Moi Nairobi Girls' School has been in existence. I should know the answer to that question but I don't so...
Anyway, later it emerged that not only was there a fire but it was arson. There was a girl, she had been suicidal for a while, even asked her dormmates to help her kill herself. She started the fire. I don't know what her intentions were in doing that since she survived it.
A cry for help?
On the one hand, I feel her pain; the system failed her. Her guardians in the form of parents and teachers let her down. She needed help she didn't get it. Eight girls died.
On the other hand, it scares the fuck out of me to realize that they are children out there with neglected mental health issues walking around possibly burning down my son's dorm...and I'm sorry but I'll kill them first.

So please, I am speaking to each and every one of yous as parents, teachers, and guardians...PAY ATTENTION to your kids. Ask them how they're doing. If they're okay. Do they need anything? Any suicidal thoughts today? Are you maybe thinking about slashing your wrists? Cutting yourself? What are you sad about? Can I help? There is no such thing as too much attention. Your kids need it, they want it, they soak themselves in it and it feeds their spirit. Give. it. to. them.
And I am not for one minute saying attention will cure mental illness. I'm saying if you're paying attention you will notice when your kid needs help and hopefully, you'll get it for them.
And I know the 'Ah, my kid is fine' parents over there in the back are saying I'm being over dramatic.
Eight. dead. kids. beg to differ.
Talinda Bennington shared a pic of her husband Chester, just days before he committed suicide. He was happy, smiling, they were standing on a bridge. So I do acknowledge that it's not bullet proof, getting help, paying attention. But you can only do what you can do. The rest is out of your hands.
I had a moment where I feared for my life this week. I'm usually about sharing and caring but I kept this to myself because for once, talking about it would just have made me more anxious. I hadn't been feeling well and I woke up with the kind of a headache which makes you wonder if you're dying. I went to a nearby Marie Stopes and they took my blood pressure and it was high. Now my mom died of an aneurysm and my dad of congestive heart failure both of which are linked to high blood pressure. So obviously my heart dropped into my shoes and I was just totally going like "no no no no no."
See my son and I have a pact. We're dying on the same day when I'm 125 and he's 100. So you see why I couldn't risk this nonsense with high blood pressure now. It's too early. So from one day to the next, I changed my entire life. Threw out the sugar and the cake and the salt. Got some of that herbal salt that I'm not even sure is any different but hey, it says it is. I was already taking my aloe gel and bee pollen but I stocked up on vegetables and bran flakes and fruits. No more missing meals. I paid for a gym membership for a month and have gone religiously.
I ain't dying if I can help it.
My blood pressure is back to normal by the way but wow, that was scary. I saw my son yesterday and when he asked me how I was all I could do is shrug and smile because I didn't want to tell him about my shenanigans. The abyss definitely stared back at me this week.

I want to end on a positive note though because bad things happen all the time and I haven't even begun to cover the bad things that have happened this week. Hurricanes and flooding and what not. It's still quiet in my corner of the world and I don't want to jinx it.
Fenty Beauty...
My girl Riri came through for y'all! 40 different shades of makeup for every type of skin with those undertones that are so important. I don't know much about makeup but I read an article by an Asian celebrity - might have been Arden Cho, I'm not sure it was a while back - and she was talking about the scarcity of foundation with that yellow undertone for their skin and so it looks washed out on film. Fenty Beauty has makeup with the yellow undertones, and the green and the pink and blue, I think (probably for Sudanese skin).
I don't know.
I'm just so happy for you girlies. I see my twitter timeline all super excited when they're discovering what number of foundation their skin is. Some people have never had the opportunity to experience this because there is only one shade of makeup for 'dark skins'. So I'm super proud that in this age of selfishness and insularity along comes Riri and includes you all. Every single one of yous. Even albinos have a shade.
Talk about changing the world man.
I might even be able to put on foundation now and not look embalmed. What I'm excited about though, is the lipsticks. Maaan, so many shades to choose from. And with the glittery thing they doing. I might have to start dating again. Yes, I'm excited too.
I have just one complaint +Rihanna, you made all these shades for black skin but there are no Sephoras in Kenya, or Uganda or Sudan or Ethiopia. What about us girl? You know we can't afford that shipping.
Do something.
Okay, one very last thing. I may have a cover and name for my post apocalyptic gay African romance. The more I work on that book, the more excited I get. Can't wait for y'all to read it!



Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Politics 101

This is a post written for the literati blog hop. The subject we're tackling is #electionsKE.
So I was going to the supermarket this evening and as I stood at the bus stop, it began to fill with people. They seemed very excited, some woman was actually ululating. It was very loud. I wanted to tell every to shut up and sit down.
Well, as the excitement mounted, I realized that the source of all this was the fact that Y'all's current president was gonna drive past any minute.
Not stop.
Not distribute wads of cash.
Drive past.
So all the stanning going on around me was excitement at seeing a bunch of black tinted windowed vehicles zooming past at dangerous speeds.
For security reasons, nobody is even sure which vehicle the current president was in but no...
And I would understand if it was Mr. Daniel Moi because he had a habit of making random stops and distributing cash to lucky passersby. Yes, it was your taxpayer money but nobody was too bothered about that. But Mr. Kenyatta could never.
So...
You might be wondering why I am calling him your current president...well if you have been living under a rock for the past week or so you might have missed the fact that the Supreme Court of Kenya nullified the election.
It was from my sister that I heard the news. She's a lawyer, so I figured she must know what she was on about. But it was just...such.a. shock.
I mean the world has been showing us it's ass for the last two years right? People left and right reaching for the lowest common denominator. Living down to our expectations. I mean I only listened to like a snippet of the court case while riding a matatu but it sounded to me like there was actually a legit case to answer. I just assumed the judges would overlook that and throw the case out.
And then they didn't.
Y'all do not understand.
You just don't.
People are taking this as a victory for Raila Odinga but it isn't. Fuck him. This is a victory for the rule of law and order. For the possibility of presenting your case and having it heard and judged simply on the merits of the case.
It restored my faith in humanity frankly. It was like that time Moses saved the Block from the Aliens...
But I digress.
Well, of course, this moment of purity could not last very long. Not even a day had passed before Mr. Kenyatta was threatening to 'take care of' the Supreme Court once he's re-re-elected to the cheers and encouragement of his court jesters, sycophants, ass lickers and general idiots. He's such a petulant child, I don't get why people can't see that.
On the other hand, Mr. Odinga is acting like he already won the repeat election.
Aaaand on the ground, hate is spreading like wildfire. I always had it in the back of my mind that this tribalism thing is a bit of a joke but when it affects my relatively sane Facebook timeline then it's time to admit that things are thick.
To go back to where I began, with people stanning a president who is whizzing past in his motorcade, willing to harm their neighbors for that guy because he happens to speak the same 'mother tongue' as them...I want to ask you to stop.
Just stop.
Go and sell your sukuma wiki, feed your family, educate your children. Because Mr. Kenyatta or Mr. Odinga are not going to do that for you. Their kids attend the same schools, abuse the same drugs, marry the same debutantes...while you fight over the scraps they throw you as if you're stupid. You're not stupid. Quit acting like you are.


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Monday, 4 September 2017

On Taking Back Your Power and Owning Your Shit

I read an Instagram post today, by Rose McGowan. Do you know her? She was the new sister in Charmed once Shannen Doherty left. Are y'all old enough to have seen Charmed?
Anyways.
Here's the post.

I remember wanting to cry that day. Well everyday really. Every day I filmed this movie. I was pressured into doing it for all the wrong reasons ( big @UTA agentess known for her cruelty and I believe hatred of beautiful young women.) This woman who was meant to develop and further my career pushed me to do my first studio film. It was called Ready to Rumble and it was expected to be a hit. I threw the script in the trash 3 times. But I hadn't worked since the sexual assault. I didn't want to do this movie. It was stupid as hell. I was told by my agent that if I did this big studio film @warnerbros would put me in the next Clint Eastwood film. It wasn't a bad set, I just didn't want to there. Every day I was pushed to be an over the top sex object and nothing else. Written by basics, captured and filmed by a man, produced by men, edited by a man, music by men, sold to theaters by men and on your screens courtesy of men. And I was sold into it by a woman. On set I mostly tried to project out of my body and into a safe place on the astral plane. Look at what my eyes say in this picture. You may see a hot young chick, I see reinforcement of stereotypes, horrible career management, and personal vacancy. While my body was left on earth and got stuck being embarrassed, not valued and to serve as only the sexy object in a film. Sent to tittilate young boys and make girls aspire to be me cos I turned their boy on. See how that works? In my book BRAVE, I am pulling back the iron curtain. This is not a tell. This is a tell it how it is. - Rose McGowan 'excerpt from BRAVE the book' coming in February @harperonebooks LINK for pre-order in bio ☝️☝️ #brave #rosearmy #anarmyofthought

A post shared by Rose McGowan (@rosemcgowan) on

And I was thinking earlier how people have the absolute wrong reactions to things, and what the appropriate reaction is to a certain thing. For example, President Trump telling victims of #HurricaneHarvey to 'have a good time'...clearly something is missing somewhere. Is it sociopathy do you think? Or just lack of empathy? His mama didn't bring him up right? He just could not absolutely care less?
We seem to lack a lot in the empathy department these days.
So here I was, reading this post, and I figured that the expected appropriate reaction would be...what? pity? sympathy? outrage at Hollywood? At the 'woman' who 'sold Rose out?'
I don't know.
I'm serious.
Tell me what the appropriate reaction is.
Because I suspect that my reaction was a bit to the left of the field.
When I read it, this proverb was going through my head;


Rose points the finger at her agent, at Hollywood studios...says she wanted to throw the script in the bin but...Clint Eastwood movie! So okay according to her she had to sell her soul to Crowley in order to get what she wanted. 


According to my understanding of how demon deals work, you have to agree to it yes? You seal the deal with a kiss and you hand over your soul. So then what? Do you blame the devil for taking it? The devil's just doing his job. Willing buyer, willing seller.
To agree to do a trashy piece of work and then to turn around and say, "The woman agent sold me out" and "Hollywood made promises they (didn't?) deliver." is to sell your soul and then complain about the devil buying it.


This. is. your. shit.
Own it.
Rose wanted something. She felt like this was one way to get it. It didn't work out for her. Or it did. I don't know. I just know that shaming that agent for being cut throat and ruthless and doing her job because she is a woman is everything feminism should be against right? Why expect this woman agent to coddle you? Or baby sit or whatever the fuck she expected? The agent is working hard for her money, earning her commissions. If you're uncomfortable with the job, it isn't slavery, you can say no.
You can quit. You can find another way.
But you didn't.
That was your choice, Rose.
Yours.
Not your woman agent's.
Not Hollywood's.
I get that this is a very unsympathetic way to look at it but life is hard man. Reality is harsh. Gotta learn to deal with that shit.

Speaking of owning things and taking my power back, She Leads Africa did a feature on me in August about how I took my power back from publishers who weren't even willing to use lubricant. You can read it here.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Let's Talk About Sex

So before we begin, please go and read this preview if you haven't read the book.


Finished?
We all on the same page now?
Let us discuss.
So, clearly, the sex in the excerpt is non-consensual yes? We are all in agreement about that fact. Today I was confronted not for the first time about the fact that Mya continued to interact with Leo in spite of the fact that he essentially raped her. Whenever people speak to me of Mya in this way there is this tendency to have a judgemental attitude about her. To denigrate her choices. There is the implication that 'If that was me, I would never have acted like that'.
That's fine.
We all have that hubris.
Especially when it hits us where we live right?
This is not a post about judging people or apportioning blame. 
Leo forced himself upon Mya.
 Mya wasn't expecting it. She kind of froze and didn't fight back. Does that mean she's complicit? As someone who has been in that exact same situation, I have to say no. Sometimes you just don't know what to do, how to extricate yourself. You're young, you're innocent, nobody has given you any instructions on 'what to do in the event of...' So you might just freeze inside and let whatever is happening to your body happen and then hopefully you get to walk away and deal with it in the privacy of your safe space.
Other times, you don't get to run away and deal because the guy doesn't leave you to it. He comes back. He wants to do it again. He figures if you're letting him you don't mind. Meanwhile, you have no idea what to do and nobody to ask.
It's kind of a major breakdown in communication.
Yes, I see you guys at the back side eyeing me and saying 'That would just never happen to me. I would speak up. I would absolutely be wonder woman and drop kick that guy into 1999.'
Like I said...hubris.
In real life - and I say that not just from personal experience but from conversations I have had with other people (both male and female) - that's not what happens.

So yeah Mya might dissatisfy you for not living up to your expectations of how her story should go. She lets you down by dealing with shit the way she does. She lets you down because she is you.
Isn't she?
Then there's Leo who comes off as 'Major Asshole'. But then you get a glimpse into his life and you realize he has no role models either. He has no one to show him how to treat a significant other. He's feeling his way as he goes. 
Who do we blame for this cluster fuck?
I have a question. How many of you have ever had a conversation with your parent/guardian and/or as a parent/guardian about how to treat your significant other? About how to handle overtures of a sexual nature when you're not ready for it? How to take rejection? How to ask permission? I mean you watch TV shows and read books and someone just suddenly kisses someone else, no, "May I?" no, "Hey can I kiss you?" 
Just leaning over and doing it.
And if they are rejected it's a whole other piece of drama full of tears, upset or abuse. It's like you're entitled to be kissed back if you kiss someone. Even if you didn't ask. So there's kind of a mixed message.
Nate Parker and them are punished for forcing themselves on women, but the message that is being sent out there is that if someone comes on to you, it is rude to say no. So in the harsh reality of the moment what happens when you're torn between this two messages.
Am I supposed to submit?
Or am I supposed to resist?
Can I even resist?
What should I do?
Meanwhile, as you hesitate, the other person is carrying on with the groping and the touching and the taking clothes off. Then it's too late. Now you really don't know what to do next.
There is a cognitive dissonance between what 'should' happen and what 'does' happen. And Leo and Mya are about what 'does' happen. And how people deal with it in real time.
I had a conversation today about this topic with a reader. She was supremely unhappy with how the characters were portrayed. And that's okay. You should be upset. You should feel dissatisfied. The question is, what are you going to do with that feeling?

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Imma Let You Finish But Ah...

Ugh, I do not like TayTay one bit. It pains me to put her in my space. I've muted her name on twitter so I don't get any updates on her and her so-called new album. Still, some things still manage to get through. And they're giving me thoughts and they demand analysis and since that's what I do, let's all try to be majorly objective and examine what makes Tay Tay so abhorrent these days.
A long time ago, when your fave and mine were still babes in the wood, Taylor was a country singer who performed in white cotton dresses and bare foot on stage. That was after she won that VMA instead of Beyonce and Kanye interrupted her speech.
By the way, the evolution of TayTay cannot be talked about without the evolution of Kanye being mentioned. They're like that zodiac sign; Yin and Yang.
Pun unintended but completely appropriate. They do seem to represent the battle between black and white art as well. Taylor is the quintessential White Girl. She represents everything that that demographic embodies for the arts (and life)...and more and more as the years have gone by since that fateful VMA, that representation has transmogrified itself into White Girl Victimhood.
And then there's Kanye, "typical boorish black man." Attacking the pure white as snow innocent guileless, kind, gentle white girl. Making her feel bad about something that is Absolutely Not Her Fault...
Anyway, we were chronicling history in order.
So she was performing barefoot on the stage with just her guitar and appropriate lighting. So forgiving, letting Kanye know that he was better than that. Everyone, including me, thought she was so gracious and grown up considering how much older Kanye is than her.We all called Kanye a massive asshole.
You know who else called Kanye a massive asshole?
Kanye.
Kanye performs Runaway at the VMAs
When the VMAs announced that Kanye would be performing 'for the first time since...!' well, I was expecting an apology song. You were too right? Something like an answer to Taylor's 'you're better than this' song.
Well, this was Peak Kanye so what we got instead was 'let's hear it for the assholes and the douchebags'. Depending on what type of day you were having, it could either sound like a 'sorry I'm an asshole' or 'fuck you'. 
Personally, I think it was the latter. 
Didn't know how to feel about it at the time. I mean you can't hate on a guy who's self-aware. That shit is just too rare nowadays. On the other hand...I thought we were playing nice.
Well time passed and Taylor's 'Kanye did me wrong' sad face morphed into John Mayer, Jake Gyllenhaal, Harry Styles, that Schwartzenegger kid (did she really buy a house next door to him? creepy), a Jonas brother, Calvin Harris...fest of these boys did me so wrong. 
*cue feminists saying we shouldn't victim blame*
white feminists.

The thing is she has time to compose songs about some boy she went out with for two weeks claiming he broke her heart. Really? Should you even be able to remember his name? That's not a boyfriend. that's a ship that passed in the night. How sad are you that you have the energy to not only write a song about it but perform it with drama queen level emotion?
Then there was the fake surprise at every award she won.
The "Taylor Squad" that was simply Taylor fulfilling some fantasy of being one of the "cool kids". Of course, the real cool kids had no time for her so-called squad and I think that was the real turning point for her.
Meanwhile...while all this was going on, the whole Kanye/Taylor incident had achieved Pop Culture Iconic status mainly due to Taylor's inability to let it go and exacerbated by everyone else also making a big deal about it. It started with Chelsea Handler hoping someone else would interrupt someone on her stint as VMA host. Then "Imma let you finish" just blew up, Kanye Shrug is a thing, and then 'Where the hell is Kanye when you need him?' became the mantra of people feeling that someone had gotten an undeserved award...
By the way real talk...In a perfect world, that Single Ladies video would have won hands down. Kanye's sentiment was correct, it was his execution that needed work. On the other hand, pop culture iconic moment.

She built herself into this thing that she could not sustain. She wanted to be seen as the nicest, sweetest most popular, coolest, humblest, girl on the planet who just seemed to meet the worst people who wanted to take advantage of her and make her life difficult.
And when all else failed, she could always milk that Kanye bit a bit more. Poor old me.
Meanwhile Kanye just tryna live.
So he calls her one day, and because Kanye is Kanye, the whole thing is being filmed and asks ever so nicely.
"Can I say some really rude things about you in my song?"
And she laughs and says "Sure! the gag is, the press will eat it up and think we're fighting again and it will be great and I'll have soo much attention and everyone will love me."
Kanye like "Cool beans."
So he releases the song and he gets bile for it and then Taylor did what Taylor does and...wait for it. Drum roll.
Plays the victim.
Now Kanye about to let her get away with it but his wife ain't having that shit because now she's seen behind the mask and she's determined to CSI that bitch into the ground.
"We have video," she says...
And the rest, as they say, is Snapchat history.
*cue snake emojis everywhere*
And now she's back, still playing the victim card, still coming for Kanye. "Look What You Made me do" she says. and then releases a teaser video which is apparently a Lemonade rip off.
(I have to put a disclaimer here: Haven't heard the song, don't intend to.)
Uh uh boo boo, ain't nobody made you do nothin' honey. You did it all yourself.
and that's why I personally do not like this woman. She doesn't own her shit.


Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Only One Came Back

I have to write a story about aliens and humans in a romantic relationship and I have writer's block AF. I have three days left to write it so I can't afford this shit much longer. I thought maybe writing something else might unstick me. Open a doorway to this story. Here's hoping...

There's a story in the bible about someone giving three different people stuff and only one came back to say thanks. A lot of stories in the bible use examples of threes, I wonder why that is.
I"m not here to preach, relax.
I can't even tell you where in the bible to find that story. I'm not proud of it. I used to be so devout.
Life man.
It makes you cynical.
Anyway, so this book down here *finger points down*



It is just about the most read book of my bibliography. Not a day goes by that at least one copy isn't 'bought' (it's free).
And yet.
Not one review has been written on it.
Not one.
It bothers me. Why do so many people read it and continue to read it but then can't be bothered to come back and tell me what they thought? Even if it's 'this book is aight.' Or 'man, I hated it.' Just so I know what y'all are thinking.
Otherwise, my imagination goes crazy and I start thinking about why people keep getting it. Of course, there's the fact that it's free. I imagine that's a good incentive...
But it's quite high in the best selling categories which means other free books don't move as fast as it does. So...
Why are y'all reading this book but not reviewing it? Was it something I said. Are y'all fucking with my mind? Because I gotta tell you, it's working.