Debate Tuesday - Scholar!

For people living in Nigeria - Is it better to get a graduate degree abroad or find a good one in Nigeria?
Doesn't matter where you live - Is it better to get a masters immediately after the first degree or find a job?

This is a topic that always crops up among us young and not so young people. We seem to be caught at a crossroad at almost every stage of our lives. I visited with some family last week in LA and the second issue came up with one of my cousins. She is yet to decide. I've also read blog posts from here where people are taking one path or the other.

I personally know it's difficult to see the road to our goals, one of the most important of which is to be successful in life. At around 18 or so, when we're in University getting our first degree, our parents begin to allow us some independence. They accept that we can make some decisions of our own since we now usually live alone and away from home.

This independence can be exciting and at the same time scary. It means that all the mistakes you make are now on your head. You can't blame anyone for your flops anymore.

Some of the major decisions we're faced with are the ones above. I had the same dilemma on both counts. I graduated in Nigeria, finished my NYSC and began thinking of the way forward. I knew the value of a graduate degree so that was part of the plan but where to get it.

I started searching online for schools abroad with scholarships. I was also checking National dailes for schools in Nigeria. This search took sometime, so I knew I had to get a proper job in the meantime. I applied for schools in Nigeria but there was always something not right. In the end, it was a school abroad that offered me an admission which I took up.

I can say it was worth it, but I have also heard people who are not too happy with their scholarly sojorns abroad. It is either too expensive, too tasking, you get no job afterwards, they don't want to return to Nigeria, you name it. And for working before graduate school. I admit it was a bigger shock going from being an banker to a poor student doing odd jobs to make ends meet.

One thing I can say is this. Degree from Nigeria or abroad, work first or directly back to school, I think it is best to get a graduate degree somewhere along the line.

What do you think?

ps, All the best to those in the middle of making these life-changing decisions. God's grace.

Picture Weekend - @ the LA Black Book Expo

It was a wonderful time at the LA Black book Expo. I had fun meeting with other authors, most especially Lutishia Lovely (in the fourth picture), who Atala and I are fans of her books. I shared a table with a wonderful lady who makes inspirational stuff, met some book club reps and sold AHTM to a great guy who carried his copy with pride. Who said men don't need their hearts mended? The video is of me reading a poem on my thoughts on romance and relationships as derived from AHTM. You can see more pictures and video when you join my page on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/Myne.Whitman .

 



 


 

 


 


 


 

Listen to my review on KUOW/NPR radio Today 2.45 PST


Myne Whitman: Books About Leaving Home

LISTEN TO THE PODCAST
If you've lived in the same place your whole life, it's tough to know what it's like to have your life split into two places. Myne Whitman knows exactly what that's like. She's a writer who lives in Bellevue, but she immigrated here from Nigeria. So she's thought a lot about what it means to make a life in a new place while missing the old place. Myne talked with KUOW's Jeannie Yandel about two books that explore what it's like to leave home for someplace new.

Myne Whitman discussed the books "The Road Home" by Rose Tremain and "The Thing Around Your Neck" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

This was a thrilling experience and my first time in a radio studio.






Onaedo - The Blacksmiths Daughter

Onaedo - The Blacksmith's daughter is the first novel by Ngozi Achebe. If you’re a fan of the style of Chinua Achebe, who happens to be Ngozi's uncle, this book will not disappoint. The main story is that of Onaedo, a young teenager of Igbo ethnicity, in the time before the English colonialists made our geographic space a country called Nigeria. The novel is engaging and swift-paced but also manages to be serious and moving.

Synopsis from the publishers

Onaedo - The Blacksmith's daughter is a work of fiction and the tale of two women separated by four hundred years of history. Maxine, a modern American woman who is half-white and half-African comes across a set of diaries written by a slave in the 16th century and tries to write a book about it. She uses elements of the discovered diaries in her book and also information she has discovered herself based on ancient stories retold to her by a collaborator.


The main character in the book, Onaedo, an Igbo girl, the daughter of a renowned blacksmith, starts her life in an idyllic town in the heart of West Africa, with her own trials and tribulations as a young, independent minded girl growing up in a traditional society.

There are poignantly drawn sharp storylines and an unforgettable cast of characters and villains as the story moves to a tiny sugar plantation island off the coast of West Africa and pulls a curtain back to reveal the life of the colonialists in the 16th century where there are twists and unexpected turns from beginning to end.

Myne Whitman's Review

For: Onaedo - The Blacksmith's daughter is absorbing and fun in equal parts, and will keep you turning the pages. The cast are each treated as interesting, individual characters, and we see the points of view of several of them. The subject of slavery makes the last half of the book sad and provocative, but not depressing.

Against: The style of the book changes half way from a more relaxed storytelling mode to a fast narration. This makes it more difficult to connect emotionally to the characters in the latter part. Some sections of the book are quite touching, with descriptions of death which might not sit well with those looking for a more light-hearted read or those without a stomach for such things. It is a not so pleasant surprise to get to the end and see that the book seems set up for a sequel. This might be just me, but a more rounded up ending would have been preferable.

High Points

- The novel opens with an epilogue from the point of view of Maxine. She is waiting to receive the first copy of the book she has just had published. She has been able to piece the story in the book from centuries old letters she obtained from some ladies. As she begins to read, we move into the story of Onaedo. This is a great gimmick and the fiction within a fiction gives a stronger sense of believability.
- The main book is about the not-so-idyllic life of Onaedo. Her daily struggles of being a woman in a patriachal society and how she deals with life, love and along the way, an unloving husband. In the later part of the novel, she is captured and sold into slavery through the actions of two Portuguese traders. We also see a bit of what only has to be ancient Bini Kingdom called Delta City in the book. Through the eyes of Onaedo's father, brother, mother, and aunt, we get glimpses of a more rounded society and the interactions that glued society together including their myths and traditions.

General

Onaedo - The Blacksmith's daughter is told from the perspective of a young Igbo woman who would still be a girl by today's standards. She has her group of friends, her family and a man she loves, who also loves her back. The main story begins with Onaedo making plans with her lover to find a way and get married even though he is poor and not up to the standards expected of her as the daughter of an influential and wealthy blacksmith and adviser to the king. Onaedo's life does not go according as she would have wished but she makes the best of the hand she's been dealt. It is over two hundred pages into the book before she is captured. This suspense serves a narrative purpose, but might be frustrating for some readers.

However, Ngozi Achebe has done a great job of balancing a thoughtful look into issues of love, loss, and family with a more lighthearted tone and the accessible writing makes the book a quick read. Several issues are explored through the experiences of Onaedo and the other cast of characters; including the place of women in the society, killing of twins, and even the supernatural through an aunt who sees into the future. If you're looking for a book both thoughtful and entertaining, this is for you. You'll also learn a thing or two about precolonial life, how these people lived and their connections with the early European explorers and traders.

In my opinion, Onaedo - The Blacksmith's daughter breaks new ground in Nigerian literature by presenting a part of history that is rarely talked about. It is very well written and will surely bring Ngozi Achebe lots of accolades both in Nigeria and outside.

Picture Weekend - New African Woman

So I got a magazine recently, a woman's magazine. The name is New African Woman. It was courtesy of Belinda Otas who had several articles in it including one in which I appeared, woo hoo...LOL. I was so very excited.

Don't get me wrong. I've appeared on several other magazines and newspaper articles, some full page, especially in Nigeria. But usually, I'll just hear about them from my publicist or friends and family, and maybe a scanned copy. This is my first international press appearance and I was also able to get a physical copy. Myne Whitman and A Heart to Mend in the summer issue of NAW. If you haven't got your copy yet, go out and look for it. The mag is available in major cities around the world.














Yeah, and another reason I was excited to get the magazine was this. The fashion. I need to go back to women's magazines seriously. Especially as I had been moaning about my lack of fashion sense and style. I had a subscription to True Love WA (now FLAIR) back in Abuja and getting NAW reminded me what I was missing. The inspirational stories, the news, the role models, the fashion, LOL...

Check this page and the new African woman below. Don't mind my geek glasses. Another unwise decision. I should have stuck with my old no-frills.








I need a Stylist. Help please!

Don't I wish I looked like Brandy right there?

I know some people who wake up every morning, shower, and step out the door looking great. I even used to think that celebrities were blessed with some awesome fashion sense by which they look gorgeous all the time. I later found out that they have stylists working on them from head to toe. I've come to start wishing that I also had a high quality personal stylist, but where will I find the money to pay the hefty price?

There are some absolutely amazing bloggers who share their style when they can. I follow a few of them in the hope that some of that fabulousness will rub off on me but for where? I still have to make my own decisions on how to dress up each morning.

It used to be better when I had an office job, I dressed corporately up every morning and built my style around what my colleagues wore or what I saw on the streets. Now that I'm a full time writer, it's more difficult. Casual has never been my forte and that's usually how I have to dress when we go out for fun or just out. Though I'm a bit better at evening dresses.

Now I'm about to travel to LA, you know the fashion capital of the world. Who knows, I might even run into some of those celebrities, our very own fashionable DITH and so on. And I feel I need a stylist to prepare. Or maybe I can get my family over there to take me shopping.

But that would be too late right? LOL...

When I go shopping, I just don't know what to get. I hate trying on clothes for hours on end in the fitting room so I end up just picking up stuff that I think looks good. And then when I get home and wear them, I will tire for myself.  Sometimes I return, other times, they just pile up in my wardrobe until I can offload them to my less discerning friends and family, hehehehhe...Do I even need to talk about accessories? Did anyone say clueless? I have my Swarovski ear studs and heart necklace and my rings and that's basically it. Shoes nko? Please don't rub it in. I have stacks of them and none that sweets my belle.


Anyway, this is a cry for help. From Myne to YOU...You know I have to form celebrity to fit in with the celebs on the red carpet.

If you live in the Seattle area, give me a shout.

If you live in LA, even better. I can trust your credentials. LOL...

Someone please give your sister a hand or don't blame me when you see my dowdy LA pics. And believe me, I will put them in your face every weekend as usual. So don't say I didn't warn you.

_______________

ps, where are the must see places in LA?  If you can make it to the book expo, lovely. If not, I'll still love to hang out.

Folake Taylor - The Only Way is Up (Guest Author)

As you may have guessed, I meet a lot of people online and some of them are writers. Folake Taylor is one of them. I saw her review of "In my dreams, it was Simpler" on Amazon and added her on Facebook. I later won her book in a giveaway. Since then, we've started a good relationship.

As part of this interview, she has agreed to give out an autographed copy of The Only way is Up to one of my readers. So first person to comment saying they want the book gets it. (restricted to US residents only and someone who hasn't won something here before. Sorry!)

- What inspires you to write?
Life. I am a great thinker and as I see things that cause me to ponder and go into deep thought, I get the urge to write about it. These are most commonly issues of injustice, love, relationships, marriage, gender roles, gender inequality and such.

- Do you have a specific writing style?
I am down to earth and to the point, if that counts as a style of writing.

- What are your current projects?
Presently, in addition to continued marketing of my debut book "The Only Way is Up", I am working on my first novel, a women's contemporary novel AKA chick lit, if I might say. I don't like to take life too seriously even while addressing very serious issues of our times. A good laugh is never out of style. I also run two blogs. A writers blog called "This 'n' That" and a blog for "The Only Way is Up" called "Empowering You".

- You're a practicing physician, do you see writing as a alternate career or will it remain part-time?
Writing is definitely an alternate career but only if I want it to be. I love medicine just as much if not more than I always have and the practice of it is fun for me on a daily basis. I love my job. I will continue to practice medicine for a very long time. There is a shortage of primary care doctors so I believe my services are needed. I love writing and to me, both writing and medicine go hand in hand. As long as I am of service to humanity, I'll be fulfilled. So, yes writing will remain part-time.

- Can you share a little about your writing routine?
I get inspired about something and I immediately start to make a note of the idea in it's rawest form. I do not like to write long hand. I usually either make a note on my blackberry or type directly into a word document if my laptop is handy. I am an organized person so for my non-fiction work, I started off with an outline of the chapters and the whole of the first chapter in one evening. I subsequently filled in the gap and was done with my rough draft in one month. I then went into edit mode, some research etc. My current project is a little different. I tried new things.

Terry McMillan had a challenge on her facebook fan page for writers after I had written my first one hundred or so pages over a few weeks really as a trial of fiction. Prior to then, I had never written any work of fiction. I have always written articles or narrative type pieces. I wrote the next three hundred pages in three weeks and finished the book's first draft. I also got sick afterwards however and will not be trying that again! For this, I did not have an outline or a full story in my head. As she suggested, I let the characters take on a life of their own and didn't think too far ahead of where I was taking them. I thought about it the night before and had a rough idea then put it in writing the next day. We'll see how it turns out when it's done. I have slowed down my pace however as there is only one of me!

- The Only Way is up is your first novel. Do you intend to write only Non-fiction?
I already touched on this so I won't bore you with a full explantion. I intend to write anything and everything. I will stretch myself. I will push myself to the limits. I have to admit that non-fiction does come more naturally to me however as it is what I have done all my life, informally.

- Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Marketing a self-published non-fiction book is challenging but I have enjoyed every step of the process and I feel like I have learnt a new trade. I love challenges. I learn more each day. And it may be surprising to some that the writing is the simplest part of an author's job. I was also erronously of the opinion that I had done something huge when I wrote the book. Little did I know it was the mere beginning.
The most challenging for me is perhaps the lack of time since I have another full-time job in addition to my domestic duties and the writing.

- When and why did you begin writing? When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I began writing professionally on memorial day weekend in 2009 to be precise. I have however written for fun all my life and in recent years, I have expressed myself more commonly on facebook.
When I was a teenager and I had several friends in boarding schools in Nigeria, I would write them very long letters with graphic descriptions of happenings back home and they found these so entertaining that they would read my letters with their friends who did not even know me. This was of course before emails became popular and we wrote and mailed actual letters to friends and family. These started of as "Dear Dolapo..." for instance and not "Hey girl" like nowadays. It was formal and structured and it really did form part of a foundation of being articulate. I suspect that my vocabulary then was more extensive than now unfortunately. What I would do to get aspects of those times back.

- What books have most influenced your life most?
Barack Obama's "Dreams From My Father" had an immense impact on me that I cannot explain. It changed me. And though I was raised to be a confident black woman who believed she could do anything, I had a renewed sense of the true meaning of going out on a limb and trying new things.

-Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Yes we are still talking about my president! I love his style, his humor, his intelligence, his wit and his directness. If you have not read his work, please start with "Dreams From My Father" and you will be glad you read it.

- Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? What books are you reading now?
I am currently reading "Apologize Apologize" by Elizabeth Kelly and it will take me forever and a day because I have yet to find a plot or storyline in it and I am on page 150 of 320. The prose is to die for however and I am reading it like a text book in the art of story-telling!

New authors that have grasped my interest include Myne Whitman and I just applaud her for doing something with "A Heart to Mend" that I have not seen any Nigerian do in recent years with fiction that is romance. I look forward to more excellent work from this prolific author. I recently read "In My Dreams It Was Simpler" by a group of Nigerian authors and they have me hooked on their blog for the season two.

I have also enjoyed "The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives" by Lola Soneyin. I just recently started reading fiction again as I had a close to ten year period in which I only read non-fiction. I guess I was trying to develop myself. Maybe? How else can I explain it? (Laughing).

- Are there other people that have inspired or supported your writing outside of family members?
I have a lot of supportive friends and even authors I have recently started to network with such as Myne Whitman, Pauline R. Evans and several authors I have come in contact with through social networking. It is important to surround oneself with positive and progressive people in the industry that are headed up just like you are but secure enough in themselves to not need to waste any energy pulling you down.

- Any last words? How can on reach you?
Thank you Myne for this interview. I can be reached at Ft@theonlywayisup.net
http://www.theonlywayisup.net
http://theonlywayisupblog.blogspot.com
http://folaketaylor.blogspot.com
F. Taylor on facebook
@folaketaylor on twitter

Debate Tuesday - Can Kissing Be Considered Cheating?


What do you think?

Last week I said that on convenient Tuesdays, I will think of a debate topic that should get us talking. Today it is about cheating. If you have any new ideas for us to discuss, let me have them after you've said your piece.

I got this debate topic from Vimbai at My So-called Life. She said in her post It Started with a Kiss

As far as I’m concerned, kissing is a gateway drug to other such preambling antics*...after all, we aren’t 12 years old! Seven seconds in heaven isn’t gonna cut it no more.

What I should have asked X was, if she found herself in the position of catching her significant other engaging in a round of tonsil-hockey with someone else, would her cool and “worldly” demeanour remain intact....or would she be singing Chris Brown’s “Deuces” with the rest of us.

And that is pretty much it. I agree with her. Kissing someone else when you're in another serious relationship is definitely cheating in my books. OK, we can rule out pecks on the cheek, or kisses between family. I mean open mouth affairs, teeth clashing, tongues duelling, you know...one of those scenes in my novel or WIP that gets our bloods heated and pumping.



In fact, I will go further to say that some kinds of flirting will fall in as cheating too. You know when you like or admire someone. You start batting your eyelids, touching their hair or bodies and just getting into their personal space. That is the beginning of emotional and maybe even physical infidelity.

What do you think, can kissing be considered cheating?

Let's hear it in the comments.

At a sexual crossroads - WIP

I have written a more personal piece on this topic titled, To do or not to do. This time, I explore it through the mind of twenty years old Efe. Relationships can be work o, especially at a young age. If it's not sex, it's the parents, it's ethnicity or it's religion. Read on about Efe and Kevwe's dilemma.

If you've missed the last chapter, see it here...

______________________________

Efe did not sleep much that night and for the first time since they became friends, she couldn’t bring herself to confide in Nneka the next morning. The feelings were too new, too intimate; too... she didn’t know the words to use in describing how she felt. However, even though she couldn’t talk about it, she didn’t seem able to put it out of her mind. The lectures of that day passed in a blur, she answered question, joked with her friends but the experience with Kevwe remained at the back of her mind.

Every spare moment after that day found her thinking. Sometimes she smiled dreamily over the memory of her near sex experience, at other times she frowned. Still she kept the dilemma to herself. Her immediate problem was whether she could stop the way she felt if she found herself in such a situation with Kevwe in future. Their wedding was planned to take place soon after her youth service when his brother would be around and that was almost two years in the future. Did she intend that they would both remain celibate in the interval? If so, then how was she to tell Kevwe so that it would not be an issue?

She didn’t know what to say to him when he came to pick her. The meeting turned out better than she expected. He was with Izekor who was also visiting his family in Benin. Efe invited Nneka to go with them to Oluku Junction. There they settled in one of the bars and ate peppered snails and palm wine while discussing politics and school. There was a heated debate on the Warri crisis by the group beside them, and they eavesdropped a little. Efe was shocked when they began to hurl insults at each other depending on whether they were Itsekiri or Urhobo.

“Lazy amphibians,” one said shaking his fist, “liars and traitors, that what all Itsekiri are, na me talk am, una dey too greedy.”

“Urhobo nko?” another asked, “Ingrates! You people want to be middlemen so you can eat from both sides of your mouth.”

“No mind am, e no dey shame, Mulatto like him. Is it not the wanton Itsekiri women sleeping with white men that caused their half caste?”

“I will box that your mouth, wretched fortune-hunter!”

When the mudslinging degenerated to fisticuffs, the guys thought it was time to go. They dropped Izekor off, then Nneka. It was Kevwe’s last day in Benin and they spent some minutes chatting in the car.

“Do you think we should worry about this whole Urhobo and Itsekiri thing?” Efe asked. The incident at the bar earlier had got her thinking.

“Did your parents say anything?” Kevwe asked.

“No...I was just wondering.” Efe recalled his father’s reaction. “Your dad was a bit…”

“He was just in a bad mood that day. My dad was a diplomat so he’s above these kinds of parochial stuff. As for me, I wouldn’t care, even if you’re from mars. I love you.”

Efe smiled at him. “You’re sure you’re not mad at me?” she asked.

He knew why she asked. “I already told you that I’m not,” he replied.

She leaned back and he stroked her hair against the headrest where it’d fanned out. “Thank you.”

Kevwe laughed and also placed his head against the back of his car seat. “But let me not lie o, it was not easy last night. It was painful!”

Efe opened her mouth to speak but he shushed her.

“Eh..eh..don’t say I’m sorry o.”

Efe laughed with him and then traced the outline of the smile on his lips. She remembered the pleasure she’d found in those lips last night and smiled again. This time, she would be more careful about starting what she could not finish. She looked at him from under her lashes.

“OK, I won’t sorry but can I say I love you?”

“Of course, and you know how I feel about you, right?”

Efe nodded. He picked up her left hand and held it up so that the security lights at the side of her hostel building caught on it.

“My ring looks good on you. I like it.”

“I like it too. She leaned forward and kissed his hand where it held hers and then peered at him. “I have to go now.”

He brushed away the curtain of her braids hair and gave her a brief kiss on the lips. “I will be back in a month as usual. See you then?”

She nodded and stepped out of the car. With a wave he was gone.

Several times over the following month, she asked herself what the next line of action was . Questions popped into her mind at oddest moments. Should she stop any form of intimacy between them or should she just allow nature take its course? Was there a way she could ensure that such situations never arose again? Did she even want to? She was really attracted to Kevwe and she realized that what she feared was getting pregnant more than anything else. She wasn’t afraid of losing her virginity or that Kevwe would abandon her.

All these thoughts ran through her mind when reading, during lectures, but mostly when she was alone. Finally, she made up her mind not to stress over whatever would happen. She trusted Kevwe that he would not do anything she didn’t want to or wasn’t ready for. She made this decision the day Kevwe came to visit her. After he had taken Nneka and herself to Mr. Biggs, they dropped Nneka off at the hostel and they went on to a nightclub. He told her he only had that night in Benin and would be returning to Ado-Ekiti the next day. That meant they would not be able to see again till his next visit. She spent most of the night wondering if he would make a move on her. He dropped her off at the hostel after their clubbing with just a chaste kiss. Efe didn't know whether to be annoyed or relieved.

__________________________

ps, all images I use in these excerpts are from the web/Google images. Sometimes they may not look alike, pardonnez moi.

pss, I know, my French is tres horrible. :)

Picture Weekend - The Animal Shelter

Hi everyone, thanks so much for making it with me this far, one year into my blogging.

****

Do any of you have a cat or a dog? I hope you're treating them well sha.

Last weekend, Atala came up with this idea. He's been toying with getting a pet, a dog and a German Shepard in particular. I'm not big on animals living in the house, maybe a hamster or a fish I suggested. Anyway, he decided we go check out the animal shelter and see if any of the animals was calling our name. Calling our names? See me see wahala. OK o, we carried our kaya and went. Thank God none was calling HIS name, as for me, certainly no cat or dog will be calling my name in the forseeable future, lol. But the visit made me think about what brought the animals there in the first place, some even had battle wounds. Pity! At least the Humane Society is taking care of them and there were lots of people there willing to adopt.

Enjoy the pics my people and have a great weekend. Love you guys, Mwah!
























Blogoversary! And the Winners Are...




I have to admit that it's been great being here with you all. You have encouraged and inspired me. Made be proud to be part of this community. I hope we all achieve our dreams and help each other get to the top. Thanks to everybody who has been here all along, and to the new followers, you're very welcome too. I appreciate you all and your comments and feeback too, keep them coming.

According to Random.org, the fellowing people get free AHTM ebooks and $10 Amazon gift cards each.

1. Pinkapplecore
2. Shorty
3. Miss Natural
4. Malika Bourne
5. Honey91

For an extra, ZeL also gets a free eBook for being on top of the feedback list. Please send emails to myne@mynewhitman.com to arrange your winnings, cheers!



Elsewhere on the Web