5 Writing Gems I found Online

I came across these five insights on writing that I absolutely love and I hope you do too.

Step into a scene and let it drip from your fingertips.- MJ Bush

Write until you surprise yourself.

You can’t blame a writer for what the characters say.- Truman Capote

What would you write if you weren’t afraid?- Mary Karr

A drop of ink may make a million think. – Lord Byron

Have a great week and I hope you surprise yourself too!

Monday

I want to have coffee with you on a Monday morning,

Let’s sit down at the break of dawn and talk,

It’s been a while,

I want to see the dimple in your left cheek when you smile.

I want to watch you frown when you talk,

Or how you shake your left leg,

Ten minutes into a conversation…

It’s been a while.

I want to have coffee with you on a Monday morning,

Just like we used to.

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Wind in her hair

I fell in love with the soul that had wind in her hair.

She came into my world and whisked me out of it,

I followed her scent.

I fell in love with the soul that smiled in the midnight air.

My Mother warned me about it,

Be careful or she may shred your heart.

I followed her scent, to my descent.

I fell in love with the girl that had wind in her hair,

No one could catch her, mold her, wind her, break her, capture her.

Breston Kenya took this: http://www.pexels.com

Updates on life, covid-19 second wave, writing and what a year!

It’s four o’clock in the evening here. I am seated on my bamboo seat typing away my thoughts on my phone.

What a year! Call it double the surprise, for 2020 has been and continues to be the year of unraveling, I mean chill for who?

As I write this, Kenya is seeing a spike in covid-19 cases, our doctors and nurses are mostly on a go-slow because they haven’t been paid in months and they lack the PPE kits to protect them and us from this pandemic and guess what, our politicians are busy pushing for a referendum to have us vote on some amendments and they want it done now…now that people are dying, losing jobs and uncertain of where their next meal will come from.

Yes, and the money for this referendum will be drawn from our taxes and of it’s insufficient, just give our President a pen and he’ll take another loan from another country that our great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandchildren will have to pay, thus rendering us forever at the mercy of other nations!

On writing: I am taking part in this month’s national writing challenge which calls for writing 50,000 words by the 30th. I have written 16,002 words so far and I am hoping to go beyond the halfway mark over the weekend.

What I’ve learned this year is that the more I write, the more I become self-conscious of what I am writing and can immediately tell whether a story is resonating with me or not. This has saved me from many incomplete drafts, and it’s something I hope to refine as time goes by with the intention of writing and publishing at least 2 books every year.

I have been doing less reading due to a short bout of fever, nausea and fatigue which I experienced this week, but as soon as I felt some relief I picked up a book by Arthur Rosenfeld called Diamond Eye.

On life and some awesome things I discovered: I’ll say that I have been watching some series on Netflix and I am impatient, so I would rather wait until a season is over then I bingewatch because then it’s easier for me to know what happens till the end and also to quit at the first or second episode. Some of my favorite series so far have been:

  • Emily in Paris ( I love “Love Triangles” as long as I am not caught up in one and this one, had me hooked. I’m glad they renewed it for Season 2, wonder how complicated it’d get and maybe Gabriel would have to go after Emily in Chicago! Now that spinoff would be awesome!)
  • Almost Paradise
  • Love, Life ( this one is on HBO Max I think)

I am looking forward to writing some more over the weekend and listening to some music as well. Hope you are safe wherever you are.

Have a lovely weekendđź’›.

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.

 

 

Writing Goals

If there’s one thing I learned this year with writing is that I have to be purposeful about it.

When you are consistent it is easy to track your progress, to know what works for you and what does not.

I’ve had to maintain my writing hours waking up at 2am and writing till 4am, sometimes I switch it up and write between 4am and 6am, anything to get in those two hours of writing time.

Cup Filled With Coffee Near Book
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However, if you can be good then you can do better and keep improving as you go and I’m trying new things to see to this. So, here we go, these are my writing goals which I hope to upgrade into habits:

  1. Write something that scares me. I love being comfortable in my writing and this was a challenge from a friend, she writes erotica, and she looked at me and asked “have you ever written a sex scene?” I almost relocated to another universe! Then we started talking about how sex is depicted in romance novels versus the reality of it and once that was done, she asked me to write outside of what I know and I’m good at.  So, going forward, all the things that freak me out- the little insecurity nuggets, I’m writing about them- exploring them and getting better at mastering them.
  2. Write a new genre: I have written romance, African literary fiction and a bit of mystery and it’d be great to try something new once in a while to get a feel of the genres.
  3. Write about what I read. This is not to be taken as a review, however, there are times when I read books and they make me feel some type of way or have me asking questions and I rarely note these down…or if I do, I never look back at them or explore them. I’m buying a notebook for this to build up on my readership experience.
  4. Write for word counts. I know…I took part in NanoWrimo, but why wait until the eleventh month of the year to write for word counts? So, I’m looking forward to adding this to my writing time so that I do not get back to bed at 4am without hitting or surpassing a word count target.
  5. Meet and engage with other Writers. Look, I should be doing this already or write about having done this and the truth is, I have not committed to it. So, I’m already talking to a few friends here and there- working on an event in the coming year, hoping lots of people will get to attend it and learn a thing or two, it’s my way of putting myself out there as a Writer. I want to do it!

So there you have it, those are my writing goals from this moment and I look forward to updating you on my progress!

Have a lovely weekend!

Why do you write and other questions I can’t answer with a straight face

It’s a Tuesday and I am preparing my third cup of tea as I write this. No, I just poured water into an electric kettle and switched it on- the tea will come as a result of dipping a teabag into the hot water for a few seconds and adding sugar to it.

I’m a Writer. I write.

I have my days and in saying so I mean days when I am excited about writing and can write continuously and then those days when the sight of a blank page makes me want to curse my ancestors.

It’s been three weeks since I published and received copies of my latest work, Sifuna, and with this there have been questions that I’ll admit I never answered with a straight face, not because they were neither funny nor annoying, rather, they were questions I didn’t expect to hear.

First things first, have you seen the cover I designed for Sifuna?

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I’ve received positive reviews so far and I am glad that I got to print copies here in Kenya and with this it’s easier to order copies and ensure readers in the country get first access. I’m yet to liaise with bookstores to expand distribution and this thought takes me right into the questions I’ve been asked so far:

Why Sifuna?

Em…I like the symbolism in the name Sifuna. It’s a name given to a male child among the Luhya community, and it means “harvest.”

Which bookstore has copies of your book?

None so far.

Why? How do you expect readers to get your book?

I am more open to having readers contact me to get a book, like you did, is there a bookstore you would recommend that I could approach and engage in discussion on marketing and distribution of my book?

How much is a copy?

Kshs 700, this includes delivery charges via Easy Coach courier services.

Why do you write?

I wish I had a definite answer, it would satisfy you, when I’m specific however, with writing, nothing is cast in stone, except for the fact that writers write and that’s it. Sometimes I do it for the power, because hey, I can kill a character using words, embedding them in a story or I could draft my Ex like a drunk, piece of chair, a urinal…in a story, who knows? It’s very satisfying, that kind of power, it’s like being high…does that answer your question?

When’s your next book coming out?

Whenever it is ready.

What will it be about? This one is political and stuff, what of the next?

I don’t know, it will be what it is…a story, and whoever reads it can choose to assign it to the genre they feel is most appropriate for them.

Wow! You must be rich! How much money have you made so far?

I’m rich, I mean, I sat down and wrote over forty thousand words- trimmed it to what you have in Sifuna, so yes, I am a notch above today.

What advice would you give to an aspiring Writer?

The difference between an aspiring writer and a writer is action. Write and write and read as widely as you can.

Do you think Kenyans love to read?

It’s 2019, are we still asking this question? Okay…no worries, let me try and put it this way, I’m a Kenyan and I love to read…so when you choose to ask about “Kenyans” that leaves more than forty million plus people and yes, Kenyans love to read the question is what do they love to read and how do they consume the content they read? Now, those are questions that can keep us here for years.

I just finished reading Sifuna- and Baoya’s a fool, like how did you even think of someone like him? How can someone be so naive?

Great! I’m glad you finished reading Sifuna. Well, you talk of two things being a fool and being naive. The two may share a fence but they are not the same. Baoya’s naivety creates room for Sifuna’s callousness to announce itself…and there are people like both Baoya and Sifuna, have you looked around?


I’ve had two cups of tea already, I’ll go to bed now and start brooding over the next story.

Have a wonderful week!

PS: I’m into 40,000 words for NanoWrimo this week and my mind’s a mess.

 

 

A little more to the left

“How do you do that?” You asked.

I was seated reading Tyrants and sipping coffee, my legs folded beneath me and as always, my heart a steady reminder of this proximity we have.

You draw me to your weakness, and I draw you to what you could never have.

I looked up at you, my eyes casting a quick glance at the cigarette between your fingers, the pack beside you on the window sill and smiled…you let out an easy laugh, and I smiled once more, “how do I do what?”

“How do you reign in silence?” you asked.

I put the book down, walked up to you and reached for that cigarette…gently placed it in the ash tray and sat beside you.

You smiled.

Did you know that when you smile, your left eye twinkles more than the right? It’s like a star finding it’s way home, releasing the light from within.

“How is it that every time I am with you, you ask me questions that require answers beyond my comprehension?”

“You make me sound like a Philosophy class!”

“And you…you make me feel like I am attending a soul-searching session, how about that?”

“Can I have my cigarette back please? You are giving me ideas and trust me, none of them, involve the distance you’ve carefully crafted between us.”

“You still feel miles away from me?”

“You, Love, are like light…you drive away the dark, you also unveil things that I prefer to be kept hidden away from not only you and the world but also from me and that scares me…it freaks me out that as tiny as you are, you can illuminate even the parts of me that I never wanted illuminated.”

“So, I am light…”

“Love, you are nothing but light, you are what stays true in both the dark and the light and if you only knew how powerful that is…you’d never hesitate to be mine.”

Fashion Photography of Glitter Face Paint
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10 lessons learned this August

It’s the second last day of August and can I say that 99% of me is screaming with joy because schools open in two days and that means your girl will be out and about initiating dialogue and meetings to set up infrastructure in public primary schools.

This means a lot of travel, field work, engaging diverse views and most of all, it means that I am closer to my purpose- seeking to positively impact the quality of education children get today, one school at a time.

This month’s been an interesting one. I lost three of my friends this month and it goes to show that life is as precious as  you live it.

So, I thought of wrapping up this month with some of the most memorable experiences I’ve had this month.

1. I experienced varying degrees of emotion when it comes to love, attention, and intimacy.

If you can please watch this video. It’s one the talks that spoke to me in my phases.

2. My experience one, shared above, led me to check out Esther Perel and after her insights on Red Table Talk, I have watched most of her talks on YouTube, trying to reconcile my expectations versus reality when it comes to love.

3. It is possible to go without coffee for 21 days. I repeat, it is possible to go without coffee for 21 days, but the struggle means consuming a lot of tea and in my case, I had at least 3 cups of black tea every day.

4. Everyone wants something.

5. Everyone you meet has a whole lot to offer it depends on how you approach and engage with them.

If you think you know it all, chances are you know nothing at all and sometimes when you are seated at a table, negotiating terms and working around policies that would impact livelihoods, it’s best to engage silence.

6. There is something exhilarating about taking online classes.

I took 2 courses on +Acumen on: Adaptive Leadership and Environmental Sustainability Practices.

7. People call it a ‘Bucket List’ but Emica Mao, author of, Plus One Plus None, calls it “Do-While-You-Can-List.” So, whatever it is to you, write it and pursue those things relentlessly!

8. We regret the things we don’t do more than those things that we actually do.

I learned this when a colleague approached me with the latest office gossip, and given that I was the heroine of this tale, she chose to tell me that people were saying I was having an affair with one of our associates (who is married). I listened as she spoke and when she finished I asked her ‘is that so?’ and did not say anything after that. In fact, I haven’t said a thing since then and it hurts me that this tale, founded on a lie, hurts me to date. I wish I told her off.

9. Fear is good sometimes, it keeps us going.

I struggled writing my latest book, Sifuna. I wrote it, released it and then de-listed it and edited it and just cast it aside for three months, until this August when I shared it with a couple of readers. It feels good to get positive feedback especially after struggling with a story for so long. It’s more like ‘I’ve still got it.’

10. I’ll end this list with two words ‘stolen kisses.’

I am looking forward to September and what it brings. Hoping to grow more into my own and travel some more.