Beyoncé - Run The World (Girls)


So this is not much of a debate as a roundtable - me sharing my thoughts and asking you to do the same. In her last single, Beyonce is basically saying that girls, we run this world. Below is the video. But my question is, DO GIRLS REALLY RUN THE WORLD?

While I do not grudge the song, or even the motivational wallop it packs, it would be small minded of women to think we've got to eldorado. It is still a man's world, and the glass ceiling is firmly in place! If we begin to reason in the lines of Beyonce's lyrics, we'll miss the way, and may even be lulled to complacency. Some of the questions to keep in mind are,

- In majority of the professions, do women earn the same as men?
- In government, are there equitable numbers of women represented?
- Do as many girls as men get the same level and standard of education?
- What about healthcare, especially in sectors where women are predominantly affected?
- Do women have the same access to capital to boost their economic capacity?

Whereby figurehead women in entertainment (like Beyonce herself, Lady Gaga and Oprah) may be making waves, we have to look at the bigger picture. We're not superwomen, and we don't rule the world. YET!



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Picture from ru-crazy.com

Guest Author: Geraldine Iheme - Disfigured Emotions

Geraldine Iheme got my attention when I began to see news of her book launch around the interwebs. I got to find out that she was a former Big Brother housemate but my interest was more in her writing and publishing journey so I contacted her on Twitter and we set up this interview.

Gerry is a Christian, reserved, friendly, observant, fun-loving and sweet. She loves exploring her creative and artistic skills and reads, writes, plays the guitar or piano, and loves spending quality time with her family and friends. She is from Nkwerre, Imo State but was born in Lagos on the 18th of June, to Chief Augustine and Chief Mrs. Uchenna Ethel Iheme. She is the second of four children, attending Corona Primary school in Victoria Island and then Igbinedion Education Centre (Secondary School, for two years, before she finished at Christ The Cornerstone International School in Ikeja, Lagos. She's  a Law graduate from Igbinedion University, Benin. As part of the Big-Brother Africa Show 2009 tagged THE BIG-BROTHER REVOLUTION held in South Africa and aired round Africa, she was the 19th house-mate to leave the show, staying a total of 10weeks in the house.

When did you start writing?
I love writing. I started writing at the age of seven. I would take empty note books and write short stories with funny drawings and happy endings. Then I would force my family to read my stories. They always encouraged me. I loved to read as well and that stirred up my appetite to write. In secondary School I enjoyed writing Essays, because it gave me an opportunity to explore and enhance my writing skills.

If you could jump in to a book, and live in that world.. which would it be?

-I would jump into the book "The Concubine" by Elechi Amadi and experience the world of Ihuoma, Madume, Emenike and Ekwueme in Omokachi Village. It was set in a time before I was born. The Story of Ihuoma reminds me of the stories my mother used to tell me when I was a child. It would be exciting to experience that world, where houses were made of mud and women wrapped their bodies in very little cloth.


What was your favorite book when you were a child/teen?

I loved reading the Bible. I also loved books by Enid Blyton, especially "The Enchanted Wood" and books by R.L Stine. I read almost all the 'GooseBumps' Series.

Tell us about your publishing journey, from idea to holding the book in your hands?
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I started writing the book "Disfigured Emotions" in 2008. I wanted to write a book about the problems youths face in our society and the negative effects Parental neglect and abandonment has on children. I wanted to tell a very interesting story that would leave readers spellbound and also learn something from my story.
I did a lot of research in order to make my story as authentic as possible. Since the story was not about my own personal experience, I had to talk to people who had experienced similar issues to the characters I had created.

I told my father about the book. He was so excited about it and told me he was also writing a book (An autobiography). We planned to launch our books on the same day. Unfortunately, he died before I finished the book. I almost gave up writing. After the funeral, I asked myself, "what would daddy want?" So I decided to finish the book even though it was difficult. Some nights, alone in my study, writing, I would try to shake off thoughts of my dad,and then I would hear his encouraging words spurring me on.

I had a fantastic team behind me,Mindscope Concept, Dees Design, and good editors who worked day and night to make sure the book was a success.

When my book was ready, I felt like a woman in labour who had finally given birth. Holding my 'baby' in my arms was a dream come true!

There were a few people who thought I would not be able to pull it off but I looked up to God for strength. I was able to finish my novel and plan a successful launch with the help of my wonderful family.

Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.
'Disfigured Emotions' is a captivating and intriguing story about love, pain, sexual abuse, neglect, mistrust, and abandonment, which will keep the reader glued to the book until the last page.

Any other books in the works?
Yes, I am already working on my second book.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
It has been a roller-coaster so far. God has been so faithful. He has blessed me on every side. The demand for my book has been overwhelming and encouraging. My books are now available in bookstores in Nigeria and Ghana and also available online on www.walahi.com and www.debonairbookstore.com. People from all over Africa have been ordering my book. My book was recently ranked in www.walahi.com as one of the bestsellers.
I got good reviews from THISDAY newspaper, The Guardian, 234 Next etc.
The support from fans have been incredible! Some wrote to me and told me how the book had touched them deeply and had changed their perception about life.
People refer to me as an author. The first time someone called me an "author", I was moved to tears. My dream of becoming a writer had finally come true.

Who are your favorite authors of all time?
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. She inspires me.

If you could have a signed copy of any novel what would it be and why?
It would be "The Purple Hibiscus" by Chimamanda Adichie. I have read the book four times now. It is such an interesting novel.

Do you think young Nigerians still read? If not, how do we get them to do so?
Many young people today are usually on the internet. Years ago, teenagers spent their idle hours reading books. Today, most of them are surfing the net, usually on twitter, facebook etc. The reading habit has depreciated.
-E-Books should be available online for download,at affordable prices.
-Book stores should encourage the reading habit by throwing book parties at the store and at schools.

How do you react to a bad review?
Constructive criticisms help me grow as a writer. I am able to take note of the mistakes and work towards avoiding such errors in my next book.

Which authors have influenced you most?
Enid Blyton, R.L Stine, Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Danielle Steel, John Grisham, and my all time favourite writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

In your wildest dreams, which author would you love to co-author a book with?
I would love to co-author a book with Wole Soyinka. I respect his work and I love his writing. He has won so many awards for his great works, including the Nobel Prize. It will be an honor to co-author a book with him.

How did you celebrate the sale of your first book?
After I launched the book "Disfigured Emotions" in December last year, I was overwhelmed with the love and support from fans, family and friends. Sales were fantastic and the book got good reviews. The response was incredible and I thank God everyday. My family and I thanked God at the Thanksgiving service in Church and went out to have dinner to celebrate the success of the book.

My name is Myne Whitman and I am a Blogaholic.

Update:

Sorry for scaring you guys. I am much better now, thank you all for the kind wishes.


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Answering your comments from my sick bed with my BB.

But don't worry, I'm back home now and Atala is the best carer.

Road trip down the Pacific West Coast postponed till next week.



***Sickbed picture removed due to several complaints via emails and phonecalls.



Find your Blog Niche


In the comments of the last post on what makes a good blog, Afronuts and LTM talked about the focus of a blog, or the topic/theme by which the blog can be defined. You can also define this as the niche into which your blog falls. Can people think of your blog and match it with a particular area? This could be personal life, poetry, travel, gossip, films,parenting, food etc.

With that said, you don’t have to lock yourself in a box, most of us are quite versatile in our day to day lives, and your blog can be a showcase of this. This is where what I talked about in what makes a good blog comes in again, you must have a defined voice so that whatever you decide to talk about, it still fits into your reader’s perception of you and your blog. With this, there are several ways to define your niche for your blog users.

So you’ve chosen your URL, your title and your description. What next? How do you go about choosing the topics to blog about? How do you know which ones not to? These questions might help.

What is your URL address, blog title or description?

You cannot have a URL or title that says Women’s Lingerie and then you blog about Auto spare parts and mechanics. See, when I navigate to a page called Jewelries.blogspot.com, I should know what to expect. According to those who know, a good blog title should be short, unique and catchy. I didn’t know all these when I set up my blog, so my title is a bit long though by luck I made it into unique and catchy(yeah!).

So, Mynewhitmanwrites.com is my URL and is the same as my blog title. Some people have different URL and title and that is OK too, maybe you want something short for your address, and then you can expand on that in your title. For example, our Madame Sting’s URL is nigerianscorpio.com and her title is “The Smile of a Nigerian Scorpio”.

Don’t despair that you’ve already set up your URL and title, they can both be changed. However, I won’t advice you to change your URL, (too much drama), or your name (me being selfish cos I don’t want to have to lol…). What is easier to change is your description. This is the bit that comes under the title. Mimi B of My world as I see it describes her blog as “The mullings (and sometimes rantings) of a 20 something year old, moody melancholic, book loving, God adoring Nigerian girl.” The description thus tells us what to expect, and leads me into the next question.

What is your purpose for blogging?

On my blog, I tell you in the description that I will be sharing thoughts on life, love, books and Nigeria. Someone once wrote to ask me how they can become a successful blogger like me. Before I shared a few tips, I reminded them that if your blog is like your diary, you might not want 600 followers. But if you’re like 9jaFoodie of Mordern African Cuisine and you’re passionate about spreading the word about African food, then you can go all out.

Here, my purpose is to write, and to share my stories, online or as books, and I want to share them along with my Nigerian self. Since I don’t want there to be any limitations, I promote the blog as much as I can, in several places, and for various audiences. So knowing my purpose makes it easier for me to chose the topics I blog about, the people I network with, the kind of guest posts you’ll see here, among other things. My niche may thus be wide, but there are still things you won't see in this blog, like Auto Spare Parts? LOL...

OK, I'll stop here today. Let me know your thoughts in the comments and maybe you'll be linked in the next post. And please use the Facebook and Twitter buttons to share if you liked or found the post useful. Thanks!

Debate Tuesday - World Ends May 21, now Oct 21 (Harold Camping)

Last week, the news spread through the whole of the United States, and I guess the rest of the world too. Harold Camping who runs an independent Christian Radio had predicted that Rapture would happen last Saturday across the world at 6PM local time in different places. He said that after rapture on May 21, the world would experience a total meltdown on Oct 21.


Anyway, he has now reversed his prediction to say that what happened on Saturday was a spiritual judgment and that the previous date for the Apocalypse is now the end of the world.

Read the article from Associated Press

So what's the debate?

Do you think the press should continue hyping this guy's predictions? Should people take him serious? And not just him but other prophets with a doomsday mentality. I wonder about his followers, some of whom sold, or gave away the last of their earthly belongings. How do they think now?

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Picture from Kansas City News

Guest Author: Jacqueline Maduneme - Ada's Daughter

In my wanderings around Youtube I came across a book trailer and was captivated by the concept of the book. A lot of Nigerians do not like to discuss issues like pedophilia, incest or rape, and prefer to sweep such matters under the carpet when they occur. Ada's Daughter was handling a topic that is rarely talked about in Africa and so I found it even more intriguing when a little research showed that the author was Nigerian born. I contacted her and she agreed to give me an interview. Read on...

What inspired you to want to become a writer?

I started writing when I was about 10 years old as a way of dealing with what was going on in my world at the time – almost like keeping a diary, except that I didn’t necessarily write about things that were happening to me as much as my writings were about my emotional responses to them. Now I write because I have stories I want to share with the world and I want to take readers on these incredible journeys through my stories.

What is one book everyone should read?

I’m torn between Purple Hibiscus by Chimamandu Adichie and A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. The former is a provocative exposition of the role of family in the formation of a child’s life and the latter gives a stark picture of what it means to be a woman in a culture where they are valued for distorted reasons, but both books are moving stories about the power of love and the struggle to survive. They both tugged at my heart deeply because of how each reflected in one way or another my own experiences.

Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.

Ada’s Daughter is a mesmerizing and thought-provoking story that goes to the heart of what survival means – filled with what I can only describe as God-inspired courage and strength, and providing a path to both self acceptance and personal growth for others.

Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects?

Yes, I have two books in the works. I have a passion for books that educate and inspire at a personal level. The first book is about the journey of one woman to take control of her future and reinvent herself, and the colorful characters – some good and some bad – that she meets along the way. The current working title is Devils in the Crossroad, but that may change as the book develops. The other book is a practical guide to people in abusive relationships, drawing from my own experiences.


Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.

My hope when I wrote Ada’s Daughter was to connect with people at a deeper level by taking them on my own journey, and so I would have to say the most rewarding experience for me has been the emails from people sharing their own stories with me and telling me how much my book has inspired them to take control of their own lives. The very first email I received after the book was released was from a woman who experienced childhood abuse and trauma and at the end of her email she wrote: “I was excited when I read this thought provoking book and will be your biggest fan. I hope you will inspire so many others with this masterpiece as you have inspired me.” This I find very rewarding.

If you could jump in to a book, and live in that world.. which would it be?

When I read Purple Hibiscus and A Thousand Splendid Suns, I inserted myself in the book to lend my courage and strength to the victims, but I have a playful side to me that likes to live in a fantasy world sometimes, so I’d have to say Harry Potter. I know…I know, but how amazing it would be to live in such a magical world and do magical things. In this world, I can solve everyone’s problems.

What was your favorite book when you were a child/teen?

Oliver Twist. I could relate at an emotional level to his miserable existence.



Is there a song you could list as the theme song for your book or any of your characters?

If you would indulge me, I have two songs: The first is “Baby Don’t Cry (Keep Ya Head Up II)” from the album Still I Rise by Tupac and the second is Nelly Uchendu’s “Wakabout.”

What's one piece of advice you would give other upcoming authors?

Write because you love writing. Write about things you’re passionate about and pay attention to developing great content. Don’t get caught up on the awards you’ll win, the Hollywood deals, and the accolades. If you have great and entertaining content, those things will come in time. And is those things don’t come, you’ve written something you’ll forever be proud of. It’s your legacy and no one can take that away from you. Content is king.

What is your favorite Quote as a writer?

“It matters not how strait the gate, How charged with punishments the scroll. I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.” Invictus by William Ernest Henley. Coincidentally, this is the opening quote to my book, Ada’s Daughter.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you "grew up"?

I wanted to be three things – journalist, actress and model. I wanted to be three things – journalist, actress and model. But my father refused to pay for any schooling that involved any of them. He wanted me to be an accountant or a lawyer, so that was the path I took. I studied accounting, qualified as a chartered accountant (we call this certified public accountant in the U.S.) and practiced as an accountant for five years. I then went on to law school for my juris doctor and a masters degree in international tax law. I practiced as an international tax lawyer in New York and London for a number of years. While these were rewarding careers, my soul was restless because I wasn’t doing what I was meant to do. But I had invested so much time, money and effort into getting these qualifications, and my children were still too young, so I was loathe to let go. After I lost my job in the financial meltdown of 2008, and with my two younger sons (twins) off to the university, I found myself at a crossroad in this journey called life—do I take a left and find another job doing what I’d been doing before or take a right and start afresh pursuing my passions? I made a conscious decision to finally focus on the things I’m truly passionate about. So, who knows, maybe I’ll still be want I wanted to be when I “grew up.” The stage is set and the curtain hasn’t been drawn yet.

Who are your favorite authors of all time?

Chinua Achebe, Chimamandu Adichie, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Khaled Hosseini, J.K. Rowlings, Chris Cleave, and Patricia Cornwell to name a few.

What's the craziest writing idea you've had?

I had a book I was working on when I was in my teens. It’s a fiction about this super-ninja heroine. I was into martial arts and Bruce Lee movies when I was a child so you can see where that influence is coming from. But when I revisited that piece many years later, it was a pretty wild idea.

What's the best writing advice anyone has ever given you?

Just write—let the words flow. Don’t worry about how it should begin or end. That will come later. You’re going to re-write this so many times anyway, so just write.

How do you react to a bad review?

I have to say that so far I haven’t gotten a bad review. That’s not to say it’s not coming, but those who have read the book, while some questioned some of the choices I made along the way, loved the book. But if I do get a bad review, I’ll take it in stride like I tend to take everything else. I’ll try to glean some wisdom from it. No one is perfect, and I certainly I’m not. Obviously, it will hurt a bit. When you’ve poured your heart and soul into a project, you naturally want everyone to love it. But that’s naïve. I knew embarking on this journey that not everyone would like Ada’s Daughter, and just as I don’t react positively to every book I read for whatever reason, I don’t expect everyone to react positively to mine. I take solace in those that do like it and move on. I can’t please everyone so I focus on those that I can please.

If you could have a signed copy of any novel what would it be and why?

It’s difficult to point to any one book. I’ve been reading books since I was a child and most books I’ve read have inspired me in one way or another.

Which authors have influenced you most and how?

All the authors I’ve read since I was a child inspired and influenced me in one way or other, so it’s difficult to point to just one author.

Give us a glimpse into a typical day in your day starting when you wake up till you lie down again.

It’s difficult to give a good glimpse into my typical day because it changes from day to day depending on which of my many projects I want to give priority to that day, and some days, something comes up where I have to focus on all of them. Those days, when they come, are especially hectic. This is because, in addition to promoting my current book, Ada’s Daughter, working on the two books I mentioned earlier, and teaching a course as an adjunct professor at Charleston School of Law twice a week, I’m also launching two businesses in the next year—the first one, a themed dance party, will be launched at the end of summer 2011, and the other one, Charleston African Film Festival, will be launched in Spring 2012. But no matter how many things I’m juggling, one thing I’ve learned working as an international tax lawyer in New York City and in London, for many years, is taking time for me, so I devote 2 hours a day to meditation. I start my day at 6 am with a one hour meditation, then I head to the gym for a 90 minute workout and then I start my day. I try to end my day at around 11 pm when I can and meditate for one hour before I go to bed. These “me” times help me stay focused and grounded.

How did you celebrate the sale of your first book?

First I thanked God for His blessings. Next, I called my three sons, who are in college in Texas, and told them. Then, I went out to lunch with my fiancé.

In your wildest dreams, which author would you love to co-author a book with?

Chinua Achebe

Live Bull Riding Event - PBR Seattle

Atala and I went to see a live bull riding event a few weeks ago after ticketmaster sent us a newsletter. None of us had ever been to anything like that and it sounded interesting. Personally, I had read loads of romance novels that had their heros as cowboys, with many of them being part of one rodeo event or the other. So for me the fascination wasn't new, just the opportunity. Seattle being on the west coast seems to have its number of ranches and the PBR - professional bull riding regularly holds events here.

What did I think? Honestly, it was an amazing event. The PBR put up a rollicking good show, from the pyrotechnics of the opening ceremony, to the final bull and the declaration of the winner. The contestants had the challenge of staying on a bucking live bull for 8 seconds each. The whole atmosphere was adrenaline charged, the cowboys were handsome! (hehehe...now I understand how the western romance authors couldn't resist) and the hosts great. The MC was hilarious, at a point the guy was actually dancing Beyonce's "All the Single Ladies", lol...

Then there was the bull fighters whose job is to scare off the bulls after the rider had fallen off, I found them really brave and good sports. Other high points of the show were the stubborn bulls who after they had bucked off the rider refused to go back into their corral. One particular animal ran around the inner arena for almost five minutes before a cowboy on a horse lassoed him. We thought that was it but the stubborn thing got loose and tried to upend the stand where the hosts were, lol. Finally, they got him and shooed him in. I caught the whole thing on camera. I also managed to video one of the contestants riding a bull.

Enjoy the video and pictures below, and have a great weekend. Mwah!




















What makes a good blog?


So blogger has given me my posts back, though the comments seem gone forever. Enjoy...

It’s interesting how we all write differently and our blogs are so different from each other. I follow a lot of blogs and my typical blog round every two days or so is about 50 blogs. And on each blog, you see a different topic, a different style of writing, a different personality, a different story, a different life. And this is one thing that has kept me excited about blogging in my year plus of starting this blog. For me, it goes beyond having my own blog, posting my own stuff and expecting and replying to comments. As a writer who loves reading, I am inspired by the different voices and stories, it gets the wires in my head sparking – but in a good way :).

Of course, there are the similarities too. After all, we are all human and sometimes life throws the same experiences at us. For example, a lot of our student bloggers are looking forward to exams, a couple or so are looking for jobs, a similar number just got jobs, yay!, and I can remember some of months ago when a few bloggers popped out them babies. So yeah, it can sometimes seem like you’re reading the same thing over and again, especially when it comes to memes. I know I’m the chief culprit at that, 25 Question Tag anyone? Lol…

Now to the topic of this post; what makes a good a good blog is being able to stand out. It is imperative in this milieu of different and similar voices that a blogger strikes that note of uniqueness. For those of us that love blogging, that love people reading our posts, and love those comments, the truth is that if your blog does not stand out, your visitors may not return. I know there are a few bloggers who even though their blogs are not marked private would prefer it to be as undiscoverable as possible; I’m not talking about those. I’m referring to some people that get one comment per post, and wish it were five. Or look at their 10 followers and wish it were 100. What do you do? You need a good blog, a blog that stands out.

But how do you make your blog stand out you ask? By being yourself. Yes, you can look at what other popular bloggers are doing, and try to note some things to try. But don’t try to write like them, and even worse, never copy their work! That’s plagiarism, especially if you do not attribute it. If you do not have time to write a post, leave it, it’s not that serious. If you try to post everyday because the other person is doing it, you may end up burnt out. However, if you have it in you to post three times a day, go for it, just make sure there are some ads on your blog to at least buy pure water, :)

I’ll stop here for now. This is just a preamble, I’ll be writing more blogging tips and tricks in the coming weeks. Leave a comment or question and I might mention it in the next one.

Debate Tuesday - Women and their cheating men

The wives and steady girlfriends of men who cheat. Do they know?

It's been a while since the last Debate Tuesday but recent events have given rise to this post. In the past few days, a couple of high profile men have gotten into the news headlines for cheating. First, Arnold Schwarzenegger, actor and former governor of California separated from the wife, Maria Shriver, and then it came out that it was because he confessed to her about his love child. And with a woman who has lived and worked in their house for the past 20 years! Also more than 10 other women have come out since the break-up to say they've had affairs with the former governor over the years. So I ask, did she know all along? Was the love child sort of like the straw that broke the camel's back?


There's also the IMF Managing Director who was spectacularly arrested in New York after alleged imprisonment and attemped rape of a hotel maid. News reports claim that Dominique Strauss-Kahn had in the past admitted to womanizing, and so it seems that the wife did know in this case.

In October, 2008, Sinclair watched as her husband was forced to apologize and admit "a serious error of judgment" for an affair with an IMF employee in Washington, DC. The IMF board investigation concluded that Strauss-Kahn's behavior was "regrettable and reflected a serious error of judgment," but found that the fling was consensual and did not involve any type of sexual harassment, favoritism or abuse of authority.
I'll leave the debate of why women remain with cheating men for another day. Let's talk my people...

The Book of M - Samuel Kolawole (Guest Author)

I met Samuel Kolawole at the Garden City Literary Festival in Port Harcourt last year. He was very articulate as he told me his plans of editing and publishing his collection of short stories. I got the chance to read some of them before the book went to press and I think he is one to watch. He is our Guest Author for the day. Enjoy the interview -

Tell us about yourself, a brief autobiography.
I like to keep it simple. I was born and raised in Ibadan, Southwest Nigeria, where I live, write and hope to change the world someday.

When and why did you begin writing?
I wish I could tell you that I had developed the desire to write since I was little, and that I pored over Famous Five, and Nancy Drew but there was nothing in my childhood that suggested I would be a writer. I started writing some years ago after I was faced with a major life crisis. I became despondent and decided to turn away from the world, so I found refuge in books. I read like a man from another world. Sometimes I would bury my head for days without coming out, people became concerned for me. They thought I was losing my mind. Then one day I picked up my pen and began to write… and so my writing journey began. Now I can look back and say it was God’s providence. God used the mess of my life to create something of beauty.

What inspires you to write?
Everything. What people say, what they don’t say but mean, true stories, (some of the stories in my book were inspired by real accounts) something happening somewhere in a bus or on the streets, funny occurrences…the unusual. I find myself being drawn to things people would usually take for granted.


What was your publishing journey like, from thinking of the book idea to holding it in your hands?
Writing is a solitary adventure and requires a lot of dedication. To prove your competence as a writer takes time. The entire process demanded a lot from me but it made me a better writer.

Why short stories? Do you plan to write a novel too?
I love writings short stories. It’s as simple as that. Short narratives are not what one writes in preparation for a novel but they are distinct art form on their own. Because of its brevity and concentration, the short story form is effectively emotional or rather has to be. In a short story you need to be precise. You don’t have the luxury of space so you need to make every word count. That’s what makes it so exciting to write. A novel can’t give you that pleasure at least not in the same measure. My next work is a novel though. It’s titled Olivia of Hustle House but I still look forward to writing more short stories in the future

Discuss one of the stories in your book.
“Mules of fortune” concerns three children forced to join a group smuggling food to the border in exchange for ammunition for rebels. Surviving a fatal accident they forge an unexpected bond.

Do you have a major theme that runs through all the stories?
My primary goal as a writer to invent good stories, create believable characters and evoke emotions within my reader. I am of the belief that writing is not an end in itself but a means to an end, it must be with a purpose. I started the book with a theme in mind- tyranny in the 90’s under military rule. I wanted to tell stories that had not been told before about that era. But then I discovered as I progressed that the subject of tyranny is not restricted to the military or a particular moment in history. So the scope simply expanded and the characters assumed their own lives, The Book of M is about oppression. It’s about greed, corruption and desire. It’s about the repercussions of the choices we either make for ourselves or others make for us. It pretty much reveals the dark and unfortunate side of human experience.

What books have influenced your life most?
The Holy Bible, Ben Okri’s Famished road, Dambudzo Marachera’s House of Hunger, J M Coetzee’s Disgrace, Helon Habila’s Waiting for an angel, E M foster Great Gatsby, The beautiful ones are not yet born,

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Ben Okri, in my opinion he is the best fiction writer our country has produced so far.

What books are you reading now?
I have a rather haphazard reading habit. I am currently reading Beauty, an anthology of essays by John Miller, Distant places a novel by Cuban writer Abilio Estevez, Tin Drum a novel by Nobel laurel Günter Grass. Possession by AS Byatt (I am going through it again to remind myself that I still have a long way to go). I can remove from or add to the list depending on my mood

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
2009 Caine Prize winner E.C Osondu. He is a writer I always love to go back to time and again

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Nothing that can’t be solved

Who are your favorite authors and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
My literary influences are diverse but for the sake of my bias for African literature let me mention a few names, E C Osondu, Ben Okri, Helon Habila, Pettina Gappah, Uwem Akpan, Okey Ndibe, I like the way they tell their stories, the kind of stories they tell.

What do you think of the Nigerian publishing industry?
A lot is happening in the industry right now with potentials for much more. A few years ago independent publishers and organizations sprang up and literary changed the industry. They ignited the vanishing flames of creativity in our nation. But now they are getting weak and frustrated. They a struggling to stay in business because although more people now read, only a small percentage pay for what they read. The problem of the publishing industry in Nigeria is multifaceted. Government policies and involvement is one thing, the people’s reading culture is another. We need NGO’s and literary organizations; we need grants, fellowships, residencies and competitions. Cooperate organization should get more involved in the arts as a way of promoting youth development instead of funding meaningless parties and raves. I also believe that the way we present literature in our country must change as literary readings and events in Nigeria are often associated with eccentric individuals and boring activities. Let’s try making literature a bit glamorous and see what will happen. We don’t have to lose its seriousness, the craft must remain but the presentation can change

What comments do you have about the reading culture in the country?
People are too busy trying to make money in order to get out of the rut they are in to read. Those who read would rather borrow than buy. The reading culture is poor and this has affected every facet of our existence. The superficial is given first place. The unseen, yet valuable things of life are disregarded. We are a nation in need of help and the earlier we know it the better. We keep complaining about corruption but the real problem is with our value system and Literature plays an important role in shaping the philosophy of a society.    

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Buy my book, and immerse yourself in it!

Do you have an online presence, Facebook, Blog, Twitter or a website?
Email me on meandmymanuscript@gmail.com, follow my blog on Samuelkolawole.blogspot.com(soon to be up) facebook me (Tosin Kolawole) or catch my tweets on twitter(alabarius)

Where can we buy the book, both in stores and online.
I will soon be on Create Space. More sales channels will open up soon. I’d also be delighted to explore opportunities for readings and interviews

Laughter is the Best Medicine

The joke below is on relationships, and I got it from one of those crazy forums, :) Enjoy...

There are three women. One is dating, one is engaged, and one is married. They decide to get kinky with their men and really pull out all the stops to make it extra special. The woman who is dating says, “Okay, so I bought black leather, red lipstick, fishnet stockings, and really got crazy. He loved it so much he thinks he’s in love.” The woman who is engaged says, “I showed up to his work after hours wearing only a red coat. Let’s just say he wants to move the wedding date up!” The woman who is married says, “Okay, I really went all out. I got a sitter for the kids and bought a black mask and a whip. My husband gets home, goes straight to the fridge and grabs a beer. Then he plops down on the couch and says, ‘HEY BATMAN! WHERE THE **** IS DINNER?!?”

"Laughter is the Best Medicine" blogfest is courtesy of Leigh at That's Write!

Here's how it works. On May 16, do the following: Post your favorite writer joke. If you don't have a writer joke (are there any?), post your favorite job-related joke. And if you don't have one of those (either writer- or work-related joke), post your favorite joke (or funny story).

Americans love the British Accent

Yesterday, Youtube was offering these new and free apps to make animated videos. In a moment of procrastination, I logged on and whiled away about thirty minutes to make the one below. Who else has noticed how much Americans love the British accent?



For the video, you get to choose your set, the actors, and most importantly your script (screen play and story). It was fun making it. I had like four takes before I got this version that I was happy with.

What do you think?

Blogger lost my post!


Sorry if you commented on a different post. That wasn't ready for the spotlight yet.

I noticed that blogger has been having problems since yesterday when I couldn't do my blog rounds or post comments on my own blog. When I got email notifications of comments here, I clicked over and noticed that blogger has mixed up everything. They lost my post, and put up a draft. Even half of the comments on the last two posts are gone!

My apologies while I try to get back my post. I composed it all on blogger here so it's not on my system. Remind me never to do that again. Any idea anyone on how to recover it?

_______________

UPDATE - From Bloggers Blog




Blogger is back

What a frustrating day. We’re very sorry that you’ve been unable to publish to Blogger for the past 20.5 hours. We’re nearly back to normal — you can publish again, and in the coming hours posts and comments that were temporarily removed should be restored. Thank you for your patience while we fix this situation. We use Blogger for our own blogs, so we’ve also felt your pain.

Here’s what happened: during scheduled maintenance work Wednesday night, we experienced some data corruption that impacted Blogger’s behavior. Since then, bloggers and readers may have experienced a variety of anomalies including intermittent outages, disappearing posts, and arriving at unintended blogs or error pages. A small subset of Blogger users (we estimate 0.16%) may have encountered additional problems specific to their accounts. Yesterday we returned Blogger to a pre-maintenance state and placed the service in read-only mode while we worked on restoring all content: that’s why you haven’t been able to publish. We rolled back to a version of Blogger as of Wednesday May 11th, so your posts since then were temporarily removed. Those are the posts that we’re in the progress of restoring.

Again, we are very sorry for the impact to our authors and readers. We try hard to ensure Blogger is always available for you to share your thoughts and opinions with the world, and we’ll do our best to prevent this from happening again.

Posted by Eddie Kessler, Tech Lead/Manager, Blogger

Crying at Weddings - Jumping the Broom (Movie)


People, I don't know what's happening to me these days o. I've always been a romantic but I viewed weddings with a more practical eye. After all, they're just one day in a couple's life and is usually a fiesta to satisfy society and make their families proud. But recently, I've found my heart melting at pictures of weddings, and after I almost shed tears this weekend at the cinema for Jumping the broom, I had to write about it.


Of course I love and devour Mills&Boons, and oh and ah over those epilogues where they have a beautiful wedding, same as in the romantic comedies. But never to the extent of crying! It all started with the wedding websites, and then the Bellanaija wedding features, and then guess what? I saw a clip of Prince William and Kate exchanging their wedding vows and almost teared up. It reminded me so much of my own wedding, it was such a typical Anglican wedding (well, except that the Prince did not want a ring). Since then, I've been watching myself, and waiting to see if it was a one off. Turns out it wasn't.





So, we went to see Jumping the Broom at the cinema over the weekend, and it was such a lovely movie. It was produced by TD Jakes and tried to incorporate a bit of African-American history and culture and the background over the phrase "Jumping the Broom". I love how the movie started with pictures of real weddings from back in the days, reminding me that this love, this wedding we all make mouth about didn't start today. It also totally set the scene for the wedding weekend we were about the see in the movie.


Sabrina and Jason are getting married in her parent's Martha's Vineyard property (Classy Uptown) and his mother would be coming in from Brooklyn (Working-Class Downtown). The two families clash as neither is shy of making their reservations about the marriage known to the other. There was a hilarious scene where instead of saying grace over their engagement dinner, Jason's mom prays that God should forgive Sabrina's family for having so much money, LOL....

Some secrets did come out about both families, and both mothers had their lessons to learn in order for their characters to develop. More importantly, like I mentioned in Doll's Post - a conversation with her dad about her relationship - it is imperative for a couple to learn how to reconcile after quarrels. After a short courtship (6 months - with no sex by the way!) and in this their wedding weekend, Jason and Sabrina had to cram as much conflict resolution skills as possible.

In the end, the wedding was worth it, and my eyes were wet as I left the screen.

_______________

Pictures from http://www.reelmovienews.com

Frequently Asked Questions - Authorhouse Publishing

So I have a contact me link on both this blog and on my website too, and often I receive emails from various people. Some of the mails are just to say congrats, ask where they can get my books, and so on. But a lot of the emails are usually asking about blogging or self-publishing, and I have decided to start a series here and share some of these information. While removing any personal identifiers, I believe that some of the questions and answers will be of use to a wider audience than just the person asking.

To start off, I'll be answering questions on Authorhouse. Read on and I'll answer any follow-on questions if you leave them in the comments...
____________________

Hi Myne, (I like this name)

My sis recommended your book, i am yet to read the book but i just wanted to congratulate you on actually finishing and publishing the books. I write childrens' books as well, i have been writing them for about two years now and i am still unpublished; due to the fact that i just don't "get" self publishing; don't laugh :-) I see you have published through Lulu and Authorhouse; may i please pick your brain on which of these two is the better option for a first time publisher? I have approached Authorhouse and they are willing to publish my books even before reading it you see, that is part of why i don't get it. I am confident that (by the Grace Of God) my books will sell, i just thought that they should at least read them first. Am i being old fashioned? Do tell me what you think please, i most definitly will appreciate your advise a great deal. Thanks for your time. See, just like you, i don't know how to talk small, please pardon the long letter ;-) Regards,

Dear XXX,

Thank you for visiting my website and for your email.

Self publishing is really hard work and I'm not even talking of recouping my investment yet. I prefer Authorhouse to Lulu because they're more experienced and with wider reach. So they're responsible for making the book available to online retailers, mine is to promote and keep it out there. I'm trying my best but it's easier that I don't have a full time job.

Authorhouse publishes children's books too and you are the one who pays for it. That is why they're not bothered to read it before accepting to go ahead. They do not pay you, you make money when you sell the books. When you are ready, you send them the electronic copy, that is what they work with. And it has to be the complete manuscript.

I hope that helps and all the best in your writing efforts. Let mem know if you have any more questions.

Best Regards,

Myne Whitman

MWP - The Familiar Smell by Makuochi Okafor

This episode of Myne Whitman Presents is a short story by Makuochi, a young writer, and a graduate of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (B.sc). He loves Music, Dance, Arts and Nature. He blogs at www.sugarabc.blogspot.com. His literary works has been published both on print and online media including Naijastories.com. .

Below is his haunting story of a blind young girl and her experience of love. The first time he sent it to me, it was unedited, filled with typos and I stopped reading by the second paragraph. I told him my impressions and he apologized and promised to work on it. This final version is not perfect by any means but I got the story. I loved how the writer let out the details slowly and pulled me along as I read.

Enjoy and tell me what you think...

______________________________


Dear diary,

Pardon me for not updating lately; I’ve been very busy recently, rehearsing my keys for my live performance with Asa. Today is a memorable day for me and I have promised myself that I must tender you my story in shorthand.

Today makes it exactly one year that I met Ifeanyi. I still remember vividly that very morning, I woke early and while I had breakfast I overheard Ellen DeGeneres talking on the television, excited about the coming holiday- St. Valentine’s Day, she was talking about how valentine comes with magic. She spoke so convincingly that I believed her. I went to school that morning expectant; I had been infected with Ellen’s excitement. I waited for the magic, but nothing came. Nothing spectacular happened. Nothing magical, except for a rather strong, strange smell in class. Amidst all the perfumes and scents in class. I could perceive a difference. This scent was strong, manly and well, very angry. I loved it because it was a mystery for my nostrils to interpret. From it, I knew one sure fact; that someone me had joined our class that day. I heard it was a boy.


The smell lingered on for days till the point, where it even became my motivation for school. I loved it, I cherished it, and I adored it. I wanted it more and more. Memories of the smell followed me home and kept me company. Days passed but I never spoke with the new boy. Sure I knew he was the origin of this new scent, the one wearing the perfume but I chose not to speak to him.


It was two days to Valentine and I was wondering what all the vain noise was about. I wondered what a disobedient prisoner had got to do with flowers and roses and candles and chocolates. Fact is, the thought was rather funny to me. You see, I don’t believe in love; at least not in this world. Having been born blind, I have come to know life is not a fairytale where love exists. There’s no Prince Charming, there’s no fairy godmother and there’s no love.

All there is are confused emotions of lust, attraction, desperation and pity. In all seventeen years of my life, people always view me through the eyes of pity disguising and confusing to be love. They are constantly trying to help and when they want to talk about me, they use the most polite of terms such as “visual impairment” and other funny phrases when they can just say blind and save themselves the stress. They make the word ‘blind’ seem like a taboo.

Oh, sorry I’m drifting but being blind has given me abilities those who can see do not possess. I smell lies; I know the tone of lies. Most times when I listen to people say “I love you” on the television or in reality, I know when they are lying and oft times, 99% of the times, my guesses are right.

Well, dear diary, this is the story of how I discovered the “unrealistic” 1%, in the statement “I love you”. Last year, on Valentine’s Day after I had made up my mind to not join everybody in the madness, I decided to go to the only place where madness don not exist. I went to church, the Sunday school children’s class precisely. I spent my Valentine’s Day in church playing piano for the kids as they celebrated the valentine service; I was told everyone was dressed in red apart from Windy who was dressed in black. The kids sang beautifully in A-minor and I remember playing my favourite songs including my favourite hymn “Amazing Grace” with that soul-comforting line ‘...once was blind and now I see’.

After service, while we packed up our instruments, something unbelievable happened. That familiar smell from school, that angry perfume saturated the air around me. I heard footsteps approach me from behind and then a tap on my shoulder definitely from the owner of the hand. Then a voice said, “Hi, I’m Ifeanyi and I enjoyed your performance. You really make magic with the piano.” I smiled and put the voice together with the footsteps and the scent.
“Thank you Ifeanyi, my name is Ebere, it’s nice meeting you...” I said.

Before I could go further to confirm if it was the same familiar smell at school, mom came and took me away; it was time to go home.
The next day at school, I came early waiting for the smell, yearning for it to tickle my nostrils. It didn’t come. Two days passed and still it never came. By the third day, I’d given up hope. On that third day, after the first class which was Music class, as I walked down the school hallway, I perceived it, that scent that pleasured my senses. I almost leapt for joy. My heart skipped in excitement and as the owner of the smell approached me, there was a comforting voice, saying
“Excuse me please, where can I meet Ebere now, I need to meet with her”?
I speedily replied, “I am Ebere, is there a problem”? He said a hasty no. In ten minutes, we were sitting and talking. I asked about him and knew why he’d missed school; he’d gone for his eye check-up.

Till date, I have not discovered what it was with me and the perfume but all I know was that I loved it and that it made me happy. Recess came and through it all, I was with Ifeanyi. We talked about almost everything there was to talk about and we had a lot in common. We both preferred Pepsi to coke, liked rock music, the smell of dust in the rain, we both wanted to be musicians when we grew up, we’d never been kissed, we share the same zodiac sign and a whole lot more. We spent recess in the music room and that day I discovered that “unrealistic 1%”. I knew I had found love, I touched it, I spoke with it. We even sang together. Ifeanyi’s voice was heavenly; I melted when we sang and played Phil Collins’s “Another Day in Paradise”. I remember how I fought the tears bursting through my eyes and how the more I fought, the more it came running and rushing down my cheeks, dropping profusely on the piano keys. Through it all I nursed my feelings for Ifeanyi and told no one. Music is my idea of heaven, since my imagination cannot phantom colours, I don’t know what the colour white looks like or gold or understand the idea of the clouds or what it looks like. But that very day, I went to heaven, I walked on the streets of gold, I danced in the clouds. When recess was over, I wished we never went back to class.

After that day, we became best of friends and my school, Rosa’s School for the Blind became paradise for me. I found a reason to be happy, a reason to anticipate school and we always spent our free time together in the music room. Ifeanyi had low vision, he wasn’t fully blind and as he explained once, the condition had developed after a severe illness the previous year, he always told me I smile lovely. Though everyone tells me that, I thought his was different and sounded genuine, I was told I smiled the most, and looked the best in our family picture.

Ifeanyi used to visit our house every weekend and we’ll play the piano and teach each other new stuff every day. All my life, I had depended on other people’s judgement and opinions; I was told trees are green and roses are red and the oceans and skies are blue. I was told mirrors reflect images but right now, there is one thing I need no one to tell me. I know what I’m feeling is not just something ephemeral. Exactly two weeks after valentine, Ifeanyi wrote something for me in Braille. I was afraid to read it. I hesitated and after much self-persuasion, I read the note. Lo and behold, my fear arrested me. He’d written boldly: I Love You. I was then sure this was love; I knew this was the 1%, Ifeanyi was my eyes, and he made life worth living. My love for Ifeanyi was blind, it couldn’t see, it didn’t know if he was tall, dark and handsome or the very opposite. It believed, it saw more than the physical, it looked within and it didn’t care. I’ve never dreamt since I was born, but with Ifeanyi, I know I am dreaming even when I’m awake.

Well that was last year. This year’s Valentine is almost here and I’ve not heard from Ifeanyi. We dated out up till December when he left our school after the ophthalmologist had said his eyes were good, so much better but too bad he left without saying goodbye.

Dear diary, every day I wait, I crave, I sniff...but that familiar smell is not coming back and that’s why I cherish the red sweater in my wardrobe. I’ve not washed it for one year now and I’ve been fighting the gradual but inevitable fade of the perfume. Ifeanyi’s scent buried within yarn, trapped in the woven wool; that’s my valentine, that is my heaven.

Right now, I believe in love because I met love, I touched love, I sang with it and I smelt it. It smelt manly and strong and it smelt angry.

Love is real...
Love lives...
It lives in my wardrobe...
And it is red...

Charly Boy - Commercial Waist

Something to while away the weekend with.

By the way, why do young, beautiful women (video vixens?) continue to appear in these music videos that have no respect for women. In this one, Charly Boy (a father and grandfather of women) seems to be saying that commercial waist is what all women are. I don't blame him, when for a fee, the dancers are willing to wind the waist for him.

Enjoy the weekend my people and see you on Monday. Take care.

Relationship 15 - I have to drop it.

So I was reading about Jessica Simpson in the Stand Up to Cancer Naija Blog and the article was about her wedding being postponed because she had to lose the relationship 15. As I read what relationship 15 they were referring to, I began to nod my head. According to that post, relationship 15 "where you gain 15 pounds thanks to late night dinners with your S.O." I googled the phrase, could it be this was a common occurence and I thought it was just me?


I have gained about 8 pounds since I got married, and it's not just from being a writer and working from home. There's also that I'm cooking more regularly, and eating more. When I was single, I used to eat mostly once a day, and munch and snack fruits the rest of the time. Now I eat twice a day while still munching. And not only that, I somehow think dishing a man's food makes me get a larger portion too. Does that even make sense?

Anyway, I have determined to drop at least 5 pounds before the end of summer. And I'm glad I said it here on the blog, I think it will make me more accountable. Wish me luck!

25 Questions Tag

Hi everyone, so I'm back. Not that I've been gone that long but I missed you guys. Anyway, I came across this meme and decided to do it. Feel free to take the questions and answer on your own blog. I hope we can share the blog love...

1. Do you have any pets?
No pets, unless you count the many fish, cats, and hamsters I feed during my rounds to various blogs. LOL...

2. Name 3 things that are physically close to you.
Laptop, cup of water, table lamp.

3. What's the weather like right now?
Cloudy, and a bit cold at 51 degrees

4. Do you drive? If so have you crashed?
Yes and no, never crashed, hope I never do.

5. What time did you wake up this morning?
6.33am, I am a lark. You know 'early to bed and early to rise'. Even when I do go to bed late, I still wake up early, it's a habit.

6. When was the last time you showered?
This morning. I'm not one for baths.

7. What was the last movie you saw?
Rio - fantastic animated feature, with a great love angle.

8. What does your last text message say?
it is one from my sweetie and sorry I can't share it here, hehehe...

9. What's your ringtone?
Allomorphic expressions or something like that.

10. Have you ever been to a different country?
Many different countries - UK, Germany, Switzerland, USA, Canada, - all in the last 5 years.


11. Do you like sushi?
I've only ever had a taste, not sure I liked it, and not planning to try again.

12. Where do you buy your groceries?
Fred Meyer, Safeway, and the nearest African Food Store.

13. Have you ever taken medication to help you fall asleep faster?
No. I usually fall asleep within 5minutes of lying down. I had insomnia on one night last month and now know how that feels. But I wasn't too bothered, I simply got some writing done.

14. How many siblings do you have?
3 sisters and 1 brother

15. Do you have a desktop computer or a laptop?
Laptop

16. How old will you be turning on your next birthday?
Do you actually expect me to tell you that? LOL...

17. Do you wear contacts or glasses?
Glasses, maybe I'll give contacts a try soon.

18. Do you color your hair?
No, but with it now at a short length after my haircut, I can be more flexible

19. Tell me something you are planning to do today.
Write, blog rounds, eat and sleep.

20. When was the last time you cried?
Most of my crying nowadays is from books and movies. Jane Eyre at the Cinema this March was moving but last year was more interesting. Up, Toy Story 3, and Everyone's Fine had me sniffing at the movies. Back home, I could let loose the sobs for a book - HIDDEN by Victoria Lustbader.

21. What is your perfect pizza topping?
Pepperoni

22. Which do you prefer-hamburgers or cheeseburgers?
Hamburgers

23. Have you ever had an all-nighter?
I'm not sure what that is but I have stayed up all night reading or writing though.

24. What is your eye color?
Brown

25. Can you taste the difference between Pepsi and Coke?
Not really.
_________________

Your turn now...

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