Ushering in a new month: Writing goals

We had some light showers this morning and I am happy I got to stay indoors. August has come with its blessings and call for action when it comes to writing.

I did get to read a book I have always wanted to read: A Fort of Nine Towers by Qais Akbar Omar 🧡 and he narratses what it was like growing in Afghanistan, when war broke out, factions increased and what it meant to be on the run in your own home in 389 pages and towards the end he is right. He did bear this grief all his life and he passes it to the reader in such a way that it I couldn’t help but wonder how many times he broke down writing this book. If you could spare a moment, look it up online and buy a copy from whichever retailer you can access.

I am learning to call myself out on writing that needs work and this is because I got to read what I had written so far before submitting it for printing and it fell short of my expectations.

This week, I get to focus on revising that draft and following through on publication and I can’t wait to see how it’d turn out.

That’s all I have in my mind today. Have an awesome week!

April Favorites

On this first day of May, I find myself looking back at the month of April and there are a lot of things that I experienced, immersed myself in that made it an awesome month. So, here are my favorites:

  1. I got to spend time with my best friend, mentor and advisor and also with my Mom drinking coffee at Java. I learned that I love those impromptu dates with my Mom just talking over a meal.

2. Writing a story for Oaks and Crown Leadership Program. This is still ongoing and even though I was unwell for a while and could barely string along sentences, I feel so relieved and elated that I am still writing.

3. Books! I had two major book hauls in April and the most recent haul is one I look forward to because of the diverse authors.

4. I am eating healthy. Look, it’s tough sticking to a healthy diet when you live alone, but for me, the greatest nudge was a visit to the hospital and having the doctor look at me like I was killing myself-worse off during a pandemic! So, I started juicing to supplement my diet.

I love pineapples and cucumbers, so that’s more of what I blend.

5. Oh, and I am obsessed with Korean Dramas on Netflix! So, here are some I’d recommend: Run On, Rookie Historian Goo Hae-ryung, Legend of the Blue Sea, My Secret Romance, and above all if you have the time- please make time and watch It’s Okay to Not Be Okay…trust me, that’s an absolute fave!

Those are my top five faves for the month of April and I am much better physically and mentally as I write this, my greatest desire is that I get to write more this month- that I never get to check into a hospital for exhaustion or anemia, just for some more strength, less exhaustion and more love I guess.

Have an awesome month. Give love. Receive love.

Updates on the Writing, Reading and Traveling life.

March 2021 is here and it’s my birthday month!

I have been spending more time wrapping up construction projects, initiating new ones all while keeping in mind the deadline of March 19th. We’ll be having the national exams commencing on this date, so by policies of the ministry, no outsiders are allowed in schools while the exams are on.

I started reading The 10X Rule: The Only Difference between Success and Failure by Grant Cardone, and he says that 1) you should set targets for yourself that are 10X greater than what you believe you can achieve and 2) you should take actions that are 10X greater than what you believe are necessary to achieve your goals.

When he said that, “The biggest mistake most people make in life is not setting goals high enough,” I found myself evaluating all the goals I set this year and looking back, I noticed that I haven’t set tangible and high goals for my writing.

On reading:

  1. I subscribed to Scribd and will be reading some of my favorite African Writers this month.
  2. I just got some new titles on Netgalley too:

On writing: I have two projects that have me taking gulps of coffee at night and jotting down notes at every turn. So, I am looking forward to publishing the two titles this year and taking a break to explore and research content for a non-fiction story project. I have settled on the working titles, a brief outline for each story and covers that seem to appeal to me right now.

On traveling: I haven’t traveled for leisure this year and I was looking forward to doing so on my birthday, and it falls on a working day so my plans to unwind will wait until Easter.

Have a wonderful week and whatever you do be kind to yourself.

My attempt to read Pulitzer Prize Fiction Winners

I thought of doing a Pulitzer challenge because a part of me loves to try something, to prove to myself that I can.

This thought came to mind three years ago, but like everything else, it was overtaken by other important and utterly unimportant things like tweeting and posting photos on Instagram…well, I digress, so let’s get into it!

Pulitzer Books I’ve read:

  • 2007: The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  • 2002: Empire Falls by Richard Russo & semi-finalist: The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
  • 2001: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
  • 1999: The Hours by Michael Cunningham
  • 1992: A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley
  • 1988: Beloved by Toni Morrison
  • 1983: The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  • 1980: The Executioner’s Song by Norman Mailer (the first book I ever read off this list and still remains my absolute favorite!)
  • 1961: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • 1953: The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway (the shortest yet very symbolic of the all the Pulitzer titles)

Like every award, I’m fascinated by some things I found out like:

Colson Whitehead has won this title twice: this year (2020) for The NickelBoys and in 2017 for The UnderGround Railroad

There were no awards given in 1964 & 2012

I just bought two more titles that I hope to add to my “Read” list come December and they are:

  • 2005: Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
  • 1994: The Shipping News by Annie Proulx

I’ll probably rest easy having read Colson Whitehead’s books just because he won the award twice and Stardust says that he’s one of those writers who move you without having to move you, and I don’t know whether he’s a major fan or whether he is just pulling my leg because he’s refused to lend me his copy of The Underground Railroad.

Reading The Memo by Minda Harts

I’m all about books that advocate for the rights and well being of women, and more so black women, so a part of me was taken in by this title.

About the book:

From microaggressions to the wage gap, The Memo empowers women of color with actionable advice on challenges and offers a clear path to success. Most business books provide a one-size-fits-all approach to career advice that overlooks the unique barriers that women of color face. In The Memo, Minda Harts offers a much-needed career guide tailored specifically for women of color.

Available on Amazon: Kindle price $13.99

In ten chapters the author explores the challenges women of color experience from the narratives they are told and tell themselves, to the policies at their workplaces and she progresses into areas that they need to strengthen or invest in to secure a seat at the table.

Her tone of writing is both firm and friendly. You get the feeling and in reading her experiences understand that Sis’ has been there and felt that. So, it takes more of a mentor approach and that’s why I was impressed that in the very beginning she said ‘have a notebook and pen ready, because you’ll need to take notes.’

And here’s one note that I want to share with you:

Hear me loud and clear: Articulate your desire to advance and own your past experience. Don’t let other people’s biases and stupidity stop your show. It starts with you. You are your best advocate.

This book delves into an area we play down because we don’t want to be seen as over ambitious and it often hurts us. I kept taking notes, and reflecting on my career and the decisions I have made over the years and where it has led me.

No matter what you do, don’t leave your career advancement in the hands of someone else. If you do, they will keep you in the same basic-ass box they put other women in.  This is a huge part of investing in yourself.

Don’t treat your career like a mediocre relationship.

Since the decision to isolate and maintain a safe physical distance was set in place due to Corona, I’ve had more than 100 days to think about my life, my values, and also accept that I wasn’t prepared for any of this and as much as it scares me, it’s not as bad as not putting the effort to re-examine my values, goals and career plans.

My take on this: 5 stars

Anyone who reads this  book, more so any black woman who gets this and has long struggled with getting a seat at the table or better yet bringing her own table will learn a lot about planning, networking and speaking up.

About the author:

Visit her website, read about this program she runs to empower women of color and listen to her podcast as well: http://mindaharts.com/

 

Still At Home: Updates on life amidst COVID-19 quarantine measures

It’s a Thursday and no, that right there is more for me than it is for you. I lost track of days and dates towards the end of last month and I’ve struggled to keep abreast of such details because a part of me knows that I’ll be resuming field duty in a week or so.

There’s been a lot that has happened since my previous post on staying at home, and on top of that list is that I stopped working out.

Yes, at some point, I got exhausted by the routine house chores that doing jumping jacks, planking or doing squats never went well with me. I was sore, so I stopped working out, and the result is that I am chubbier than usual and my Mom approves!

So, let’s get into my life’s updates:

On writing: I started working on In The Quiet and I have been closely sharing updates with my Mentor on this novella, hoping to release it in July.

On reading: I should probably stop adding more books on my galley, but it doesn’t help that Netgalley has so many new releases every hour or so- and I cannot resist a book that I am drawn to. I have so many to read by next week:

On special life events: Yesterday was my Mom’s 60th birthday and it was such a joy to see her smile, dance and enjoy such a milestone. I was even more happy that I got to share in her day. My favorite part was getting a slice of the Cake!

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On keeping sane: I have been taking naps and a break from writing when I feel like it and my sleep pattern’s altered drastically. I write from 10am to around Midday and prepare lunch for the family. I take my naps sometime between 2pm and 3pm, if not I watch a Nigerian movie because Mom and I can have a laugh at this!

I finally sleep at 2am and the cycle continues. Oh yes, and Kisumu is hot so taking cold showers helps and these have risen to 3 or 4 depending on the work I do in the day!

What I’m looking forward to: 

  1. Staying healthy- with the World Health Organization saying that we may have to continue living with the Corona Virus, I find myself both fearful and eager to get back to work. My kind of work involves constant communication and touch with communities so I have to take more safety measures to ensure I am of good health to keep working.
  2. Writing some more
  3. Finally putting the pieces of my 2020 writing goal of joining and participating in a community of writers. I’m already loving the #WritingCommunity on Twitter, and I am looking forward to joining another here in Kenya.
  4. Replacing my passport. I would love to travel some more and experience different cultures around the world.
  5. Being aware of my access points- I was watching a sermon online and the preacher said something about access points- being more like the weak links where we let anything and everything in and this wounds us and it’s key for us to take charge of what we consume holistically to lead better lives.
  6. Working out consistently. I hope I get this done!

Have an awesome week wherever you are and I’m sending you love and positive vibes wherever you are. May you be a light, receive light and give light in all your endeavors.

 

 

Things that speak to me

It’s almost ten o’clock. I should be going through reports, but I have just had a workout session and I can’t seem to catch my breath. I’ll take a shower, finish my coffee, dress up and leave for work in an hour or less.

The morning workout is part of this month’s focus. I’m taking drastic changes by having a list of top ten each month that I feel would have an impact on my life and health.

For May:

  1. Workout in the morning.
  2. Walk to and from work every day using the long route!
  3. Read more of the Old Testament ( there are some epic stories therein I tell you, and I am learning that there are better ways to read the Bible, to engage with it and not just from the “If you will..” perspective)
  4. Read more articles from: The Elephant: https://www.theelephant.info/
  5. Drink more ginger + lemon+ honey water in the morning and right before going to bed.
  6. Listen more often.
  7. Enjoy listening to: Paradoxology by Elevation Worship and Victory (Live) by Bethel Music
  8. Write more: both fiction and non-fiction (keep writing those long-form articles)
  9. Say thank you more often, life’s short.
  10. Drink more water and get your tasks done!

I started this month on an epic note reading Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay.

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And I love epics, just as much as I love any story that’s got dragons in it 🙂 but what made me buy the book was reading about a young man who got the gift of 250 Sardian ( very magnificent) horses and he suddenly finds himself the talk and threat of a whole empire.

It’s a great read, well-paced and I love how the author unpacks his characters and you get weaved into plots and sub-plots that you did not see coming whilst reading it.

However, that’s barely it (let me sip some coffee…) yes, where was I? Right, that’s barely why I am writing this, but I love how books speak to me. Some books can take me on a journey that makes it hard for me to come back to reality because I never know how far gone I am until someone talks to me. A friend called me and I noticed this was so because I told her “Time runs both ways. We make stories of our lives,” and she asked “where did that come from?

I was already quoting this book! So, I’ll throw in another quote for good measure because it seems like this book is still in my system.

“Life offered you love sometimes, sorrow often. if you were very fortunate, true friendship.”

Do you have any goals for May or should I call them your ten little things that you want to do or try out this month?

Have a great week and since it’s Thursday, lo and behold, I smell a weekend, but I’ll be reading something on another Writer who intrigues me:

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My Weekend in Ten

It’s a calm Saturday for me and this weather calls for staying indoors and reading a book or two as I drink from a bottomless coffee mug. So, what have I been up to? A little bit of this and that is what I’d say, so here’s a summary of my weekend in ten points.

One: I have written 10,000 words for NanoWrimo. This is my fourth year as a participant and somehow I find myself relaxed and unmoved by the desire to meet the target. We’ll see how it goes.

Two: I just checked my Netgalley dashboard and I’ve got 22 books to read. So, I hope I can finish them by 14th December, then take a break from reviewing books.

Three: I am looking forward to reading 4 titles by Wednesday.

Four: I can’t stop listening to:

  • Valentine by Hillsong Worship
  • So Will I (100 Billion X) by Hillsong Worship

Five: I’ve been dancing to this song this week every time I pass by the mirror, it’s so weird, but I guess by now I am officially weird.

 

Six: I received some insightful feedback on my book Fire, this week and I was too excited I bumped my knee on the table.

Seven: I’ve been off dairy products for thirteen days now and my Mom’s worried that my caffeine intake would probably be detrimental to my health because (a) she does not understand why I drink coffee before I go to bed and can sleep peacefully and (b) she does not get why I wake up at 4am to write. However she is glad that I do not wake up at 2am anymore.

Eight: I am loving these blogs:

Nine: I’ve been reading The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell and is it just me but once you read one of his books you want to read all of his works? I only felt that with Chinua Achebe and Khaled Hosseini.

Ten: I’m dreading doing laundry. So, I end this post right here and go and make another pot of coffee.

Have a lovely weekend.