Tuesday, 27 December 2016

A Political Post About Discrimination

So I got sucked into....another...debate on racism last night.
This time it was not with some random white woman on twitter or Facebook though.
It was right here at home with fellow Kenyans.
Their argument was that Racism is not a local problem. It's not something we have to concern ourselves with...
Now I know we can be quite hypocritical as a nation but I just couldn't let that one go.
See it's like this y'all.
When I saw the video of Eric Garner asphyxiate from the weight of a policeman on his chest I was outraged.
I also felt a little smug about living in a place where as a person of color I was not a second class citizen. That even our little 'third world country' does better on some issue than 'the greatest country' in the world.
But then I took another look at myself and the country I live in.
Were we really so perfect?
Are there no parallels to be drawn?
What about that driver who was shot in cold blood because he was going to be a witness for a lawyer against the police?
What about all those coastarians who 'disappeared' on 'suspicion' of being Al Qaeda. Their families have no idea where they are; if they're even alive. What did they do?
The police are just as brutal here, as they are there. But because I happen to escape the demographic containing 'persons of interest' I can sit back and say, "Oh we're great."
I'm all those white people who say, "If you don't want to be shot by police you should do exactly as they say. If you don't then it's your fault you got killed like a dog in the street."
Or worse.
I'm the Syrian government in Aleppo letting Russians massacre my citizens and turning my country into a post apocalyptic landscape of death and destruction.
I'm the smug, self-righteous being saying "They're in the wrong and I'm in the right."
I don't want to be.
I wanna be George Michael (May he rest in peace).
When the opinions of the world said "You gotta be this way."
He said "Fuck you. I'm gonna be who I am. Sometimes the clothes do not make the man, sister."
Remember Freedom '90? Remember what inspired that song?
He was caught in a loo getting blown by a guy.
Newspaper sales!
And of course, these days if a celebrity was ever caught getting a blowjob in a public bathroom it'd be the apology tour, the giving money to charity, the 'I'll never do it again' PR speeches...
George said "Look people, surprise. I'm gay. Now deal with it."
(Not like people don't get blown in bathrooms all the time. Both gay and straight).
Then he did a song and a music video called "Freedom '90" at the end of which he tells us that Jesus Forgives...
So put that in your pipe and smoke it.
You don't have to follow the party line.
You don't have to drink the Kool Aid.
You can think for yourself.
You can come to your own conclusions about things.
You can live free.
I'm passionate about this stuff.
That's why it makes it's way into my writing.
What are you passionate about?

Thursday, 22 December 2016

The Saga Continues or #UseYourWords

A few years ago I used to live and work in Mombasa back when I was just starting out as a grunt in the pharmaceutical industry. I lived in a flat not far from Mombasa town, no furniture except mattresses on the floor, a few plastic chairs, a cooker and later, a fridge. You can't live in Mombasa without a fridge.
We had no TV so me and my son used to sit on the verandah in the evenings and count stars.
Good times.

Anyway so we had these neighbors...
Family of eight or thereabouts, father a retired civil servant, mother a house wife. five or so kids running the place.
So because I'm such a nice person, and I hadn't yet learned how to say no, the wife used to sometimes treat my house as if it was hers. And I became her de facto best friend.
She used to tell me stories about how her husband was this and that. And I just used to listen because it's something I'm good at and clearly she needed someone to listen to her.
So one night, really late, my son and the maid have gone to bed and she knocks on my door. Now I'm daddy and mummy, protector of my home etc and someone's knocking at 11pm at night. The door is not that sturdy. If it's thugs wanting to kick it down there's not much I can do except cover my son with my body and hope for the best.
Turned out to be my neighbor. Apparently her husband had beaten her up and thrown her out of the house. And she wanted to go report him to the cops. At 11pm in the night. And she wanted me to go with her.
Now I had work in the morning, I had my son alone with just the maid in the house. I had no car and neither did she. It was a risky proposition is what it was.
But the maid told me that they'd be fine, I should go and help the 'mama' next door. So I did. Luckily it was Mombasa and I think it was even during Ramadhan so the matatus ran late. We took public transport and went to the cops.
There was this guy at the front desk, he listened to us as the lady told her story. How it wasn't the first time he'd beaten her, how he threw her out of the house and she had nowhere to sleep...yada yada.
So after she finished, the guy is like, okay fine, you want us to arrest your husband yes? Say we do that, do you have another source of income? Who is going to buy your food? Pay your rent? How will you live?
And neighbor lady just caved.
She was like I take it all back. I don't want to report him.
She slept on my floor that night.
The next day she went back home.
And the cycle continued.

So I was out a good night's sleep, a visit to the cop station, paying the transport to boot and at the end of the day, nothing was achieved.
That was the first time I saw first hand the complexity that is domestic violence.
It's all power dynamics and need perception.
Why am I telling you all this you ask? What does it have to do with writing you say?
Well for one thing inspiration for stories comes from everywhere and it ties in with my various conversations I've had this week about Child of Destiny, Leo, Mya and the power dynamics of their situation. The power dynamics we barely want to acknowledge because somehow we think they'll just go away by themselves.
The trigger of course was the development of the +Blacc Chyna +Robert Kardashian situation where it 'emerges' (that word makes me laugh) that there might have been domestic violence involved.
And everyone gasps in faux shock and clutches their pearls.

Come on.
Anyone who has watched so much as a snippet of any Real Housewives show sees how much 'putting the paws' on someone is a legit option in an argument. Is it lack of Montessori schools? Were people not taught to use their words enough? I don't know. I just know that domestic violence is pretty widespread yet we all act like it's something new and shocking when  someone who experiences it is famous enough to make the news. We treat the perpetrators like some sort of outcasts when the reality is, they were just doing what 'everyone else' does.
Surely there must be another way.
What is the other way?
That is the question.
Think on it as you have a Merry Freaking Christmas!
And yes I didn't say 'happy holidays' because it's actually Christmas being celebrated this week, right? When I wish people a blessed Ramadan I don't say happy holidays either. I say Ramadan Mubarak. Let's not try to generalize what doesn't need it in an effort to hide from the real issues of discrimination that we do face huh?

Monday, 19 December 2016

The Two Star Review

I am not conceited I don't think. But I do have a healthy appreciation for my own work, what I can do. Some call it arrogance, some call it self awareness. I call it realism.
I'm not used to getting bad reviews for my work.
But today...today I have my first two star review.
It hurts. I won't lie. It hurts like hell. My books are my second babies and anyone can tell you I don't much tolerate people talking bad about my babies.
And yet I asked for it.
I asked that the person who wrote this review put it up.
Why did I do that you ask? I'll tell you. Or rather let me show you. Here is the review, go read it.

When I wrote Child of Destiny I expected that it would generate some controversy. I mean hell my editor couldn't help going on about 'what am I teaching people about relationships' and there is too much sex, it's gratuitous. We sat down at Java and had a really loud er, discussion, about the sex scenes. Me explaining exactly why each was relevant and he still insisting I needed to tone it down.
I didn't.
Because the purpose of even writing on this was to bring the topic right in your face. It wasn't to draw a delicate veil over the nastier aspects of what happens in relationships. I'm sorry, in Child of Destiny you're probably getting a lot more reality than you're maybe comfortable with.

When I was writing I had a vision of people setting up discussion boards to argue about whether Mya was right or wrong in what she did and how she acted. Was Leo a hero or anti-hero? Do we like them, or do we loathe them; best case scenario, we like them and we loathe them?
And that's exactly what this review is giving me.
She didn't stop at, "It's a good book, or it's a bad book."
She let us know how it made her feel; the characters were real enough for her to be affected by their actions on a personal level. And so two star rating or not, I think this is the best review I've ever received.
+Toinette Thomas is an author as well as a book reviewer. You should check her out. (she did not tell me to write this.)

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Telling Yourself Stories

Let me begin by telling you a story.
So there was this man hunting in the woods, he came across a tiny baby poison snake whose mother had died of bullet to the head. The man was going to pass by but the snake pleaded with him to stop.
"Please help me", it said, "I'm all alone. I need you."
And the man shook his head resolutely and turned away, "If I help you, you'll bite me." he said.
The snake reached out to him, "No I won't! I swear. I'll treat you like my mother and father. I would never hurt you."
So the hunter sighed and said, "Okay then. Come home with me."
So the man took the little poison snake home. He fed it, nurtured it, gave it a place to sleep. They lived together happily for some time. Then one day, the man reached for a hot poker to stir the fire in the cold winter months and startled the snake. Quick as...well...a snake the snake lashed out and bit the man on the arm.
As he lay dying by his fire, the hunter looked at the snake all betrayed and said, "Why did you do that? You said you'd never bite me."
The snake looked at his dead keeper sadly, "You knew I was a snake when you brought me home" it said.

Now boys and girls, who can tell us the moral of this story?
And why did I choose to share it with you today?
It's about choices y'all.
I was surfing through my +Instagram this morning when I came across a post on baller alert of +Robert Kardashian in his feelings because, he says, +Blacc Chyna left him and took all the baby furniture. His voice was all shaking and shit and I was inclined to believe she actually left. 
So I was like "Aww tooo bad. And with your 'baby special' airing soon and all, it must be hard." and then I moved on with my life.
Not two minutes later, a screenshot of a post by Blacc Chyna appears on my timeline saying that yes, she did in fact leave Rob's ass because he's a bipolar, emotionally abusive baby and she's sick of it. Especially since he 'promised not to be like Tyga' (I'm paraphrasing heavily). 
So she has two kids with struggle baby daddies and she's starting all over again. Once again.
Two things I want to say before I get with the harsh reality:
1. I have come to really respect Blacc Chyna. She's strong, intelligent and has a good heart. At least as far as I can see. She made the best of her life when she didn't start out with many aces in her deck. 
2. I can't remember what the second thing was.
Now to harsh reality.

She knew he was a snake when she brought him home.

Let me tell you a little something about weak ass men and single moms. Just as a warning in case you haven't figured it out.
When a man sees that a woman is a passably good mom, that she looks after her child, puts him first, shows up as a parent; he immediately extrapolates all that love and attention to himself and he wants it. He wants that woman to look after him too. Trust he'll be proposing within weeks of knowing you. And he will want to have a child with you, like right now!
Because the child is a guarantee that you'll never leave. At least that's what they think. And once they have you they start emotionally abusing you so you feel worthless and maybe not leave them for somebody better. Because they want you to believe you don't deserve better.
You're allowed to believe this bullshit once.
But twice?
How many times people? What is your count? I'm guessing it can be deduced by how many kids you have by different baby daddies.
I'm sorry.
But I'm not.
Somebody has to tell you and I guess I've designated myself den mother.
Stop it.
Stop choosing the same type of guy over and over.
Stop telling yourself that this time will be different.
Open your eyes and see who the guy is, or girl.
See them, and make a decision with your eyes wide open.
Not your eyes wide shut.
The only stories you should be telling yourself are the ones you're writing that will hopefully make you some money.
And I'm not saying you can't date a weak ass little boy if you want. Just go into it knowing what you're doing.
Remember in 2012 when +Rihanna gave +Chris Brown a second chance? (I hate to even bring it up but it's like the most perfect example) And everyone was trying to tell her what to do? What did she say?
"If it's a mistake, it's my mistake."

She didn't say "I love him and we're gonna be happy and you're just trying to break us up because you're jealous..."
Yes I'm looking at all a y'all who say such things with a straight face.
She saw who he was and she was giving him another chance because she accepted that this is who he is and she still wanted to take the chance on him. Of course when she discovered that no, she didn't really want to deal with all this bullshit, she was out.
So was Chyna.
So I commend her for knowing when to look after herself first.
But let's not make the same mistake a third time. Please.
So many new types of mistakes to make. Let's try one of those.

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Sex and Violence Themes in Child of Destiny

This morning I received an email from a reader who won one of my giveaways. She had finally got around to reading Child of Destiny and she had some concerns.
She started the email with all the positive things she had to say about the book which I really appreciated and it also put me in the mind set to really hear her concerns. I need to learn that skill; I don't think I'm good at it AT ALL. I mean well though.
Anyway so she said that the book grabs you to begin with but then she wasn't prepared for all the 'gratuitous sex' and stopped reading. Now you would think that since this is how the book begins, it would have occurred to me to maybe wonder if it was too much or maybe that I should place a warning. Probably a trigger warning because the sex is in no way consensual.
But I didn't.
I didn't think.
So I really want to thank +Toinette Thomas for pointing it out to me.
I want you to be prepared when you open the book.

The email came in the wake of some feedback I'd gotten from a writing group on +Facebook where two people point out that I have three punctuation errors on the first page of the book. The question I had asked was why more people don't leave reviews so that really threw me.
Is punctuation that important?
I was dubious.
But then I remembered that yeah, I always notice when tenses change when I'm reading something so if I've made such mistakes I'd like to correct them.
This weekend I'm editing Child of Destiny to see if I can catch those. It really made me wonder though; is that really why y'all haven't reviewed the book?
- Are you unable to get past the sex to see the story?
- Are you put off by punctuation errors?

Tick the box which applies to you.
I want to talk about the sex and violence a little bit. Give a little background.
Child of Destiny begins with a sex scene which has dubious consent AT BEST. I want the reader to decide for themselves what they feel is going on.
It's stark.
It's in your face.
You'll probably be embarrassed and/or turned on and/or triggered and/or put off and/or disgusted. It's not gratuitous. It's essential to story progression and it's also a subject that tends to be glossed over to 'protect sensibilities' and yet it's an issue that plagues many girls in the world, of that age.
Including me.
I wrote the beginning from two perspectives; jumping from Mya's head to Leo's. The same Facebook page and many people before have said that that's confusing. But it's essential for you, the reader, to be in both their heads. To follow their trains of thought. To come along with them so that you can understand what is happening. To write it any other way is to make it gratuitous.
I am accepting all emotions but I want you to go in there prepared for what you'll find.
So if you've read it, or started reading and abandoned it, talk to me. Help me to help you. Whichever means you use, I'm listening.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Last Day for Half Price Book Sale!

Yes, it's these four books that have been on half price since beginning of November...until today. Cop it while you can.
Read extracts below and take your pick.
Since Requiscant In Pace is at the lowest price and The Swamp is Full of Mystery is free on this site they are not included in the offer. So it's  two books;
Between Death and Heaven

And Child of Destiny

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Social Media Creativity

So I'm sure you've seen this pic on +Twitter or +Instagram of +Rihanna and #SarahPaulson probably on set for +Oceans 8. And it has just led to an explosion of memes that had me laughing my ass off.
This one was captioned: Don't Touch My Hair featuring Rihanna

I mean...seriously I try sometimes to come up with captions like this but my head just isn't wired that way. It makes me admire people who can do this even more knowing that it's impossible for me. The one line zinger is the new short story. This one wasn't even in my top ten for this particular meme. there was this other one:
That just had me dying
I mean can't you just see it? Some white woman going ahead to touch a black woman's dreads on a train; they probably don't even know each other, just happened to sit together and not only is she TOUCHING HER HAIR, but she's also at the same time spouting her offensive philosophies in the black woman's ear and thinking that they're just having a lovely conversation. 
All of this despite the look on the black woman's face and the fact that she's clearly restraining herself from inflicting physical damage.
It's funny because it happens. It's funny because it's RIHANNA and SARAH PAULSON but it's also #anyblackwoman and #anywhitewoman. It's a classic depiction of the trials and tribulations People of Colour go through on the daily, and it's also suggesting that no one is exempt. But all done with such comedic accuracy and in just one line. It says everything without giving you a long story, or preaching or hating. It's perfect and I'm jealous that I can't do it. 
However this still isn't the best meme.

Cries.In. Solange.
I've been trying to use the phrase 'Get out my Caucasian Mentions' for a while in the correct context and the other day I succeeded and ticked it off my bucket list.
This is my new goal; Find the perfect situation to use 'Cries in Solange' and come up with a caption that captures the emotion, the situation, the context so damn perfectly.
I mean....
Bow down to whomever came up with this phrase.
Bow down.
Today I landed a really lucrative ghostwriting gig and I tried to come up with similar phraseology to depict the state of my pysche. The best I could do is 'Dances in Dollar' which is just lame and unimaginative. Can anyone come up with something better? Hit me up in the comments.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Creativity Defined Now Has An App!

Creativity Defined

So I got myself an app which makes it easier for you to connect with me, talk to me, keep up with my books and interact with me. I've posted the link above so feel free to download it and let's get interacting!

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Rihanna, An Inspiration

So in just the last month or so, I watched my idol +Rihanna go from the set of +Oceans8 to the set of +Bates Motel, back to Ocean's Ocho and then off to Dubai for her last +ANTI WORLD TOUR 2016 LIVE performance. She managed to avoid exciting talk about her and +Drake Aubrey Graham.

Do y'all think they broke up?
I don't particularly care but I am not convinced of it. Just taking history into account, +Rihanna isn't on social media enough to be single. When she's 'occupied' she tends to disappear. And she surely has disappeared. If it wasn't for paparazzi we would have no idea where she was. Also Leandra Simone, Riri's friend and social media manager, posted something about a 'dinner date'. My suspicion is that going public wasn't her idea and she wanted to get back under the radar with their relationship.

You remember I said once that everyone has a mental illness?
Well I really believe that she suffers from PTSD from that incident that shall remain unnamed.
So I do believe they're low key still together.
Anyway back to her grueling schedule.
So after going to Dubai for her last show, slaying it, she was back in BIM for the 50th Anniversary celebrations. There, she met Prince Harry and brought my ship to life for four five seconds. They did a HIV test in public together...

Speaking of HIV tests, y'all should go get tested. I understand that now you can get a 'to-go' kit and do the test in the comfort of your own home, without anyone's help. Also if you are positive, and you catch it early enough, you can go on medication and live a happy, loving long life. It's not a death sentence anymore. So go and get tested today. And use condoms.
Back to Rihanna's schedule; so after she was done educating us and making us die with feels, she was back in New York on the Oceans' set...On top of that, she released those velvet Puma Creepers that are giving me FOMO (whatever that is) and a new collaboration with +Manolo Blahnik, and accepted the award for Shoe of the Year - the first time a woman has ever gotten that award.

Meanwhile I'm just trying to get through this one novel. I tried doing Nanowrimo but couldn't find the time to write anything apart from my day job. When I watch Rihanna slaying like she does, it inspires me to try harder, do better. I wrote Child of Destiny because of Rihanna's Only Girl in the World then new album then Diamonds World Tour schedule. I was like, we all have the same 24 hours. Look at what she does with hers. I felt like I was drastically under-utilizing my own 24 hours. I still feel that way.
The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.
However, so long as I wake up and Rihanna is still trying well then so will I.
My characters though, I think they do better than me when it comes to trying. Take Phil and Lillian for example. They're dead right? But they're still trying. What other possible excuse could there be not to keep at it?