Confession Time

Yes, I've been keeping something from you all along, two things actually.

1. I have started on my third book *big grin* and I'm over 20,000 words after a month. It's a bit slow going for my liking but my next secret will reveal why. Anyway, I've decided to start sharing some bits of the first draft here with you guys starting this Monday. I hope you like it. This also means that I'll be cutting back my posts to maybe just twice a week cos the story is really calling me to finish it. What are the particulars? Below is a pitch I made to an agent recently.

Title: One Night Only
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Word count: 23,000 (so far)
Author: Myne Whitman

While in Nigeria, fiery Dunni is seduced by the perfect smile of local lothario, Babs, and starts a holiday romance. But their sizzling affair soon matures into something deeper as Babs proves he’s more than just a hot body. When Dunni finds out that he may have gotten someone else pregnant, will their fledgling love survive Bab’s decision to face up to his responsibilities?
What do you think? Sound interesting? Well, come in on Monday for the first installment, and remember, it's all about feedback, the harsher, the better. Like I do also, the first person to comment on any the WIP posts get their choice of the eBook of any of my previous novels.

2. I broke a bone in my left hand and it has been in a splint for the past week. Did you miss me on your blog? Did you see my comment but it was on the brief side? Now you know why. It takes me almost three times the usual time to type things with one hand. The technicians that wrapped up the hand warned me not to use it at all, and I'm trying. I was afraid I would be totally incapacitated but it's been manageable. Atala has been great, doing more around the house and he helped me type out some of my posts this past week (some were scheduled already).

I'll be seeing the orthopedics this week to find out if the fracture is healing well, or a full cast is required. Help me pray that I won't need the cast, this splint is driving me crazy with the weight, the dry skin, itching and all.





Have a nice weekend and see you on Monday. Mwah!

Frequently Asked Questions: Comparing Createspace and Authorhouse

First off, I know this FAQ series is not for everyone but please bear with me and those who may find it useful. My replies are not meant to be gospel or comprehensive, they're only from my experience. Do feel free to chip in your own thoughts in the comments. Today's post is another question I get asked quite a bit since my second book, A Love Rekindled was released via Createspace.

*****************************

Hi Myne,
I have a collection of short stories published as Ebook. I am thinking of publishing it in hard copy but I don't even know where to start. I am currently working on a novel. I just want to know stuff about publishing in hard copy. I just knew you would be able to advice me due to your wealth of experience. Thanks & God bless u.

_________________

Hi,

There are several ways of self-publishing the paperback of your books. I have used two of them myself and went for the second after I was not fully satisfied with the first.

1. Authorhouse.com
2. Createspace.com

I would say it was much easier going with Createspace than Authorhouse, especially on being able to have a more affordable book. When you go with the least expensive publishing package, both are about the same price at an average of $600. My biggest issue with Authorhouse is that cost of producing your book which was around $10 for me, and also this price is fixed so you can't change it along the line. This translates to highly priced books and especially if you want to get any appreciable royalty.

On both I went with the paid-for service and did not have to worry about interior layouts or cover design issues. However Createspace has a completely free option where you design the cover, interior and do everything else yourself. The publishing consultants at CS were helpful and the customer service always on call. However I was a bit impatient with their time lags when any change needed to be done, it is usually 5 working days and no earlier. That said, that give me the leeway to be sure of what I really wanted.

The only drawback for me so far is that they only sell on Amazon.com. I had assumed this meant all the Amazons like AH did for me, but CS is basically American. They said my book may later be for sale on Amazon.co.uk and others but I won't be getting the Amazon royalty but the third party one which due to my low price is almost next to nothing. I have complained about this to them and hopefully with time, they will rearrange it. The good part about them too is how responsive and willing to meet you halfway the staff generally are.

One final thing to remember is that bookstores will rarely stock your book as they regard CS and Amazon as competitors. And it's not just CS, they do not like Print on Demand books because it's usually non-returnable so this also affects Authorhouse and most other self publishers/vanity press. I later learnt that a way to go behind this is to also publish with Lightening Source at the same time since they distribute with Ingrams which the bookstores use.

Hope this helps. Best of luck with the book.

My books are Amazon UK and Canada Bestsellers!

Thank you to all my friends and supporters in the UK and Canada.


I was so happy yesterday when I found out that my first book, A Heart to Mend was at the top of the UK free kindle bestsellers list for romantic suspense. The novel is still #1 as I write with almost 5,000 ebooks downloaded through the promo. Go to the book page to read the reviews, and download your copy.

Also, A Love Rekindled is doing very well in Canada, at #43 on the paid paperback lists. And guess who and who I am outselling? LOL...Nora Roberts, Maya Banks and Nicholas Sparks! Of course they have other books also ahead of my own, but who cares? :) These are romance writers that I admire so much, and it is heart-warming to be counted among them by you readers.

Thank you all so much!



  1. 43.
    A Love Rekindled
    Myne Whitman
    Price: CDN$ 13.50
    5 new from CDN$ 12.52
  2. 44.
    Colters' Lady
    Maya Banks
    List Price: CDN$ 17.95
    Price: CDN$ 11.51
    You Save: CDN$ 6.44 (36%)
    14 used & new from CDN$ 8.83
  3. 46.
    A Bend in the Road
    Nicholas Sparks
    Price: CDN$ 9.50
    571 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

PS: Americans, where are you?!

Answers from "400 Posts" + ALR Winner


Happy Monday, everyone! Hope you had a good weekend. I know some of you thought I would never get round to doing this... sorry for the delay.

The winner of the copy of 'A Love Rekindled' is... Bunmi! Please send your postal address to myne@ mynewhitman.com to arrange delivery.

Below are the questions and answers... I hope I answered everyone.

how was your childhood like? was it fun? wre you a happy child? did you feel pretty? what were the challenges you went through on your road to adulthood?

I was born in Enugu, a very playful, studious tomboy. I was happy, I had three sisters and a brother. I felt pretty, but maybe not beautiful - I felt my sisters were prettier than me. However, I think my parents did a good job; they didn't do favorites.

are u a professional writer? if yes, did you/are u study(ing) anything that has to do with writing? single? married?
Professional writer? I belong to a professional association of writers (Pacific Northwest Writers Association), but I don't consider myself a professional writer, because I did not formally study writing. I write full-time, and I am married.

If we could get a personal profile *why you started writing, what u studied, interests etc* childhood, where u grew up, bullied?, bully, pet peeves lol

I've always written; I remember writing as a preteen, and beginning to write again when I was about to finish university. I decided to change careers after moving to America and took up writing full-time. I studied Applied Biology for my first degree, and Public Health Research for my Masters. My interests are varied, but the main ones are reading and travel. I was bullied in primary and in secondary school; maybe it was because I was small, and I did well in class, so bullies felt that I was a teacher's pet.

My question is how do you deal with situations when you have brilliant ideas but seem too busy to pen it down? That is if you ever do.
I do procrastinate and become demotivated, but I have an encourager in the Holy Spirit and my husband is very supportive. I only have to mention something, and he will hold me to it, if not immediately, then soon. He will go as far as reminding me and providing a conducive environment.

Question - 3 things you wish to achieve in the next 10 years..
I hope to be a mother, I hope to have more books written, and I have big dreams for Naija Stories. Let's see how it goes in ten years.

I'ld just love to know how you started and what were the challenges you faced then. Did you ever think of quitting?
I started my writing by joining a writing group. Along the line, one of the members suggested blogging, and I started this blog. Through this blog, I found out about other bloggers and writers who became self-published authors, and after considering it with other options of publishing, I decided to take that route. My first book was published in December 2009 and since then, I've faced the challenge of bringing it to the awareness of the general public. I do sometimes doubt myself and wonder if I'm putting myself up for a big fall, but I didn't think of quitting because I got a lot of good feedback from bloggers, the Nigerian community and generally from readers.

As for my question, what is your real name?
Ask your nearest Igbo friend to directly translate 'Myne Whitman'. I'll give you a clue; my first name is Nkem, which means 'Mine'.

PS, Have a great week. Mwah!

NigerianScorpio.com - Permission Denied

Please is it just me or is everyone else locked out of Madame Sting's blog?

If it's just me, I don't know what I've done o, somebody talk to me.

Sting, are you there?

If it's not me, anybody know what's going on?

Her last post was titled clarification.

What was she clarifying?

Yes I be gbeborun...

LOL...

Have a great weekend everyone!

MWP - Amnesty: A movie review by Nollywood Reinvented

Some of you may know that I love Nollywood movies, like YankeeNaijababe who makes some very good recommendations on her blog. I also hope that one day, my stories and books will become feature-length movies for people to watch. So I keep an eye on the industry, and check the review sites out there. Today, I present to you a movie review website and one of their reviews.

Nollywood Reinvented is a website formed in the beginning of the year 2011 by an avid african movie viewer with a desire to promote the African Movie Industry. Many argue that all the movies out of Africa are not up to par and in essence, not worth their while. Well, they started this website to challenge that view by promoting the good, exposing the bad and critiquing the ugly. They wanted to start a review site in which the ratings don't just come from a random number concocted by the reviewer but by a systematic analysis of the elements that make a good movie. You can follow the blog on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, LinkedIn and on their SITE.

Enjoy the review by Nollywood Reinvented below....

AMNESTY

Art is a medium of self expression. That is, it's a method of expressing one's opinions, or an arena through which people relay messages to the world (or whoever cares to listen). Like music, photography and painting, I do consider movie-making an art (even though a majority of the movie makers in Nollywood are yet to realize it). Therefore, I believe that if one is to make a movie, then that person must be attempting to convey a message. Either that or the person is using it as a means of self-expression.

A couple posts ago, I was talking about how most African movies are yet to actually touch on the issues that are dear to the heart in Africa. I said that there were many things within not even our continent as a whole but our own individual nations. Africa has more problems besides the corruption of her people and the overwhelming number of individuals suffering from greed, jealousy, envy and despondence; yet a majority of our movies revolve around these themes. Over and over again, we produce the same sort of movies, hence, it is no surprise that everytime I see a movie, like Amnesty, which is centered around a theme that is not commonplace in the industry, I run to it. One reason for which I classify the movie, Amnesty, as a good movie is its uniqueness. The focus of the movie is the Niger-Delta and the "Oil Wars" (the same subject that Jeta Amata's "Black Gold" is focused on). Now before I bore you with what I think, what I like and what I believe.... let's proceed to the review.





NOTE: The sequel to this movie is called "End of Amnesty". The movie is divided into four parts namely Amnesty 1 & 2, then End of Amnesty 1 & 2 respectively.

Cast: Sam Dede, Van Vicker, Mercy Johnson, Gentle Jack, Hanks Anuku, Olu Jacobs, Ebele Okaro, Jibola Dabor, Olisadebe Chike, Nuella Njubigbo, Junior Pope, Eve Esin

An Executive Image Movie

Director: Ikenna Emma Aniekwe
Screenplay: Ikenna Emma Aniekwe and Ugezu J. Ugezu
Music: Stanley Okorie
Producer: Ossy Okeke Jr.
Associate Producer: Solomon Apete
Location: Chinedu Arinze

An Ossy Affason Production

Genre: Military/Government based Drama

Rating: ...7.75 out of 10

-Story: [4 out of 5] A good story is one that is not only truly intriguing and capable of keeping you at the edge of your seat but also one that you actually care to see, and I have to say this movie was a good story. Not much on keeping you at the edge of the seat but it had a very not-very publicized subject matter (haha...that's not proper grammar, but shoot me)

-Originality: [5 out of 5] Very original being that besides this movie and "Black Gold" there aren't many movies about the Niger-Delta area.

-Predictability: [4 out of 5] Somethings here and there were a bit predictable. The usuals were a given and by the usuals I mean, "who is going to fall in love with who" "who is going to die" "who is going to fail" yadi yadi ya. But being that this is a new kind of story, it was not very predictable. Something new now and then is always good.

-Directing/Editing: [5 out of 5] No major flops oh! What can I say, Mr. Aniekwe got lucky...lol jk.

-Acting quality: [3 out of 5] A couple problems when it comes to acting. First of all, Olisadebe Chike was in this movie again, and even though his acting got a tenth better the fact still remains that I do not believe he can act. Secondly, Van Vicker played the role of a militant in this movie, not just any militant but a Niger-Delta militant and he was expected to speak pidgin language. Come see our ajebutter at work! His pidgin language was not convincing at all, chacha. His role should have been recasted I guess they put him there for the affiliation with Mercy Johnson in the third part of the movie. Thirdly, Hanks Anuku. Enough said.... wait No! That is not enough. This guy's voice gets me all the time I mean, is that even natural? Well his voice was almost annoying in this movie but then again I presume that it was part of his role considering that he was supposed to be a Warri tout! So all is forgiven? I think so.

-Setting and Costume: [2 out of 5] In the beginning of the movie, the setting of the movie really irritated me. I couldn't tell if it was because of the mediocre video quality or because of Ebele Okaro's office. Her office just looked too small, too choky and too clustered for one that belongs to a whole Minister of Information. Another thing that I can not accept is wearing shades indoors something that I usually associate with Junior Pope but in this movie, Van Vicker was the culprit. Is wearing shades indoors supposed to be a symbol of bad-boyism because it seems to have become a recurring motif in Nollywood movies. Finally, all I have to say is that the president's supposed office was not very uhm.... PRESIDENTIAL. Ghanaians seem to be a lot better at making a suitable setting than Nigerians, we should probably go and take lessons.

-Video and Audio Quality [3 out of 5] The video quality is not very great. It was not a very executive image is all I have to say.... all pun intended (if you do not get it then never mind)

-Soundtrack [5 out of 5] I really liked the soundtrack plus it was also catchy, Stanley Okorie did his thing.


Notes:
There is this saying that goes that every person is innocent until proven guilty. Do you agree? Well in this movie I noticed something that I have noticed in more than one movie before which is the brutalization of a prisoner even before he or she has been proven guilty. I wonder does this really happen in Nigerian police? or is this just another creation of the movie industry? Please leave your replies. Thank you

Tuesday Talk - Does competition extend to Friends?


"I better pass my neighbour" is a phrase people in Nigeria use to refer to mobile generators as a way of saying, "I can afford it while my neighbours can't". In other words, they're happy they've kept up and even overtaken the Jones or the Okekes. I know we all have competitive streaks in that sense, but does it extend to friends? Do we deliberately keep friends that we're better than? In our talk and debate, I want us to consider the following questions.

1. Are all your friends married while you're single? Are you the only married one?
2. Are they more intelligent, for instance have more degrees? Or is that you?
3. Are they all slimmer than you? Are you the only Lepa?
4. Are they all more accomplished in their business or career? Or are you?
5. Are they all more well to do? Or are you the generous donor?
6. Are they all more popular than you? Are you the prettiest, tallest, most bubbling?

I know we cannot dictate our friendships and that it's a two-way thing, so while you're trying to make a friend, the other person may be pulling away. But it would be good if our circle of friends are mixed up because unbalanced friendships can sometimes become unhealthy - Frenemies, anyone? So if you're good in this, your friend is good in the other thing, and you both accept your strengths and weaknesses and try to minimize competition. As for me, I am a work in progress. :)

Guest Author - Philip U. Effiong (Monty)

My guest today is Philip U. Effiong whose father of the same name was the second in command on the Biafran side during the Nigerian Civil War. After teaching in the university for over ten years, this Philip worked as an Oracle Programmer and then as a full-time writer and editorial consultant from late 1998 to 2006. He is still writing but also started teaching at the University of Maryland in the fall of 2006. His areas of specialty are literature, writing, drama, and cultural studies. Ater spending almost five years in Nigeria (January 2001-December 2005) his family relocated to and currently resides in Fairfax, Virginia, USA. I read one of Philip's books titled Monty and will be posting a review soon. Enjoy our interview, and welcome to the beginning of a great week.

What inspired you to want to become a writer?

I enjoyed the folktales my mother told me when I was a child. Later, I was further exposed to the narrative tradition as a student of English and literature at Nigeria’s University of Calabar. Captivated by the power of images and creative storytelling, whether fact or fiction, I was soon motivated to start writing my own stories and analytical essays.


Why did you write Monty, was it in any way autobiographical?

Monty is largely informed by my recollections of refugee camp situations during the Nigeria-Biafra war. However, the goal is not to present a war or refugee camp story, but to demonstrate that the impact of war continues even after the guns stop blazing. Sections of the text are definitely a recreation of personal experiences.


The character of Monty is an intriguing one, where did the idea come from?

Even though Monty is a byproduct of refugee camp situations (as already stated), the character is designed to function as a universal delineation of what it must feel like to be an outsider (which can be engendered by origins, physical appearance, belief systems or mental attributes). This is in addition to portraying how the horrors of war can continue to manifest in various ways even after the ceasefire takes place. The name of the character suggests his rescue on a Monday.


Please tell us why you think people should read Monty.

People should read Monty because it tells a good story about the unconquerable human survival spirit. It also reiterates the well-known, even if clich├ęd message that we should treat others as we expect to be treated, in spite of our several differences. At the background of the plot is the presence of an overwhelming, invisible war-centered influence, which constantly reminds us of the horrors of war and the fact that it is an aberration to human dignity and existence.

Have you achieved your aim of writing and publishing Monty?

I think so, but I guess a greater understanding of the reactions of readers will help me in this regard. I am, however, thinking of revising the work and releasing a second edition.


Do you have any other books published? What are your goals for future projects?

I have published a text on African-American drama titled, In Search of a Model for African American Drama. I have also completed a number of manuscripts and continue to research possible publication opportunities. They include: Memoirs of a Housegirl (fiction), Morning Song and Mildew (fiction), Give Me Words, I’ll Fly (fiction), Biafran Boy (memoir) and Do you know WHO I AM: Nigeria’s Cult of Bigmanism (collection of satirical essays). I also engage in critical writing on literature as well as on historical and sociopolitical issues as they relate to Africa and the African Diaspora. I hope to continue to explore the above genres and to also explore new media writing that mainly focuses on documentaries that cover unique stories in Africa.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.

I enjoy the fulfillment of knowing that I have released something that I carried on the inside for many years. I am also inspired by the continued encouragement that I receive from some readers.

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

I would gladly live in the world created by Okot p’Bitek in Song of Lawino; I thoroughly appreciate the ability to address serious issues with humor as well as the message of standing one’s ground (some would call it resistance).

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

The Passport of Mallam Ilia by Cyprian Ekwensi

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

“Sorrow, Tears & Blood” by Fela Kuti

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

Trust yourself with the belief that your Creator has endowed you with unlimited creative talent.

What is your favorite Quote as a writer?

“Until lions have their own historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter.”

Who are your favorite authors of all time?

There are many of them: Elechi Amadi, James Ene Henshaw, Chinua Achebe, Roger Mais, Maya Angelou, Jacques Romain, Samuel Selvon, Christopher Okigbo, Derek Walcott, Ola Rotimi, John P. Clark, Ntozake Shange, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Okot p’Bitek, Wole Soyinka, Lorraine Hansberry, Ama Ata Aidoo, James Baldwin, Richard Wright, Harriet Jacobs, Amiri Baraka, Toni Morrison, Zora Neale Hurston, Alice Walker, Ayi Kwei Armah, August Strindberg, Ferdinand Oyono, James Welch, Flora Nwapa, Charles Chesnutt, John Munonye, Langston Hughes, Bienvenido Santos, Sophie Treadwell, Diane Glancy, Griselda Gambaro, Athol Fugard…the list goes on.

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

Continue writing; never give up.

How do you react to a bad review?

I learn from it if it is constructive, but refuse to dwell too much on negativity.

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

Elechi Amadi’s The Great Ponds; it is one of those great classics that has not received the attention it deserves.

Which authors have influenced you most and how?

I have been greatly inspired by Ntozake Shange, Christopher Okigbo, Wole Soyinka, Amiri Baraka, Toni Morrison, Ama Ata Aidoo and Richard Wright because of their ability to evoke stirring images, their departure from conventional narrative patterns and their fearlessness in addressing salient issues.

Picture Weekend - On the trails of the Grand Canyon


Hope everyone is having a nice weekend? Thanks for all the comments on my 400th post, answers to the questions will be up next week. Today, I'm going to break my rule of adding commentary to pictures today, after all, rules are meant to be broken, right? Like when you clearly see the Danger Sign and decide to go one step beyond it and then dangle off the edge of a cliff. Yeah, that's me. Please do not try this at home, LOL...



I can be a very level-headed person, but I used to be, and can still be, quite mischievous, and watching Lion King as a teenager, my favorite line was from young Simba...you got it...
Danger? Hah! I walk on the wild sideI laugh in the face of danger. Ha ha ha ha! ...
So while we were at the Grand Canyon, I don't know what happened. It might either have been the awesomeness of the views or Atala's fear of heights, but I was having so much fun giving in to my wild side. You know sometimes you have to chuck all your fears to the side, and grab life full frontal in order to get the best out of a particular experience. It was amazing!

I encourage everyone to step out of their comfort zone once in a while and do something they can either learn from, or simply have fun doing. And here's a special shout out to all winners at the Blog Awards, NIL, 9jaFoodie, Feistypen, Sisi Yemmie, Chutzpah woman, Sting, Omojuwa, Linda Ikeji, etc...una well done o, where is the party at? :)

Have a great weekend everyone. More pictures when you click read more...
















Have You Got a Heart to Mend + 400 Posts!


What has the title got to do with this picture? Well because Mania Magazine is featuring A Heart to Mend in it summer TRAVEL issue. So do pick up the magazine, and if you wish, go on down to your nearest Bookshop, online or in stores, and get yourself both a copy of A Heart to Mend and A Love Rekindled.

Oh yes, and Agbani Darego, the cover model, and former Miss World, will hold a special autograph session on the 17th of July, 2011 from 3-6pm at the Silverbird Lifestyle Bookstore, Victoria Island, Lagos.


Also, this is my 400th post, and I want to dedicate it to everyone reading. Most of my blogs are excerpts from my WIP, but I've also shared about myself, my life and what makes me who I am. If you still have any questions about me, or for me, please leave them in the comments and my next post will provide answers. I don't promise to answer everything or everyone, but I'll do my best. :)

PS: A random commenter on this post will get their choice of AHTM or ALR paperback. But only if they live in the US, UK or Lagos, Nigeria

When did you find out about sex?

I almost said procreation in the title, but hey, we're all adults. Not that you'll know that going by the couple in this viral article that Atala brought to my attention a few days ago.

Chinese married couple clueless about sex - Yahoo! News

A highly educated couple, in their 30s from Hubei, China, thought that the wife would get pregnant by sleeping on the same bed, Malaysia's largest selling Chinese language newspaper Sin Chew Daily reported.
Prior to their marriage, the couple did not dare hold hands and kiss as they thought the woman would get pregnant by doing so, reported a China newspaper Chu Tian Jin Bao.
However, the couple decided to seek medical advice after the wife, who holds a masters degree, could not conceive.
They have been married for three years.
The doctor was shocked to learn about their "sex life".
The husband, who has a doctoral degree, said they were too focused on their studies.

Is this possible?

Laugh wan kill me die when I heard the news, and I didn't believe it until Atala showed me the links so I could see for myself. I went down memory lane about watching this Bollywood film (Jamina?) that fed into the myth then because the young actress thought she could get pregnant by kissing. You know how some of our mums, or aunts, or basically most adults would warn growing girls about talking to boys, walking with them, holding their hands, allowing them to touch you, and so on, and the bogeyman was always pregnancy.

I think by the time I got into secondary school and started devouring the novels in the library, and then was taught "the almighty reproduction" by around 14 or 15, I basically knew the nitty-gritty, if not the techniques, physics and chemistry of the whole thing. So you now know why I was laughing so much at this news. Still sha, I've had friends who were not as fast or curious as I was and did not get the memo till around 18, 19 or 20. But in your 30's, with a masters and PhD under your belts, and having lived as man and wife in the same house for three years? Atala said maybe they were asexual, ehm, it wasn't me. LOL...

Some choice thoughts from the Yahoo readers, share yours below in the comments.

"Question is; how did they get degrees while being so dumb?"

"So hard to believe. Internet was introduced to the world in 1994, 17 years ago. Even a Primary 1 child in Singapore know how to google "sex" & watch how to do it on their PC. Duh!!!"

MWP - The Cat-eyed English Witch By Abubakar Adam Ibrahim


Today on Myne Whitman Presents, I will share a short story by a writer who I admire a lot. Abubakar Adam Ibrahim has been published in various journals and anthologies, including Africanwriting.com and Sentinel Literary Quarterly. He has a degree in Mass Communication from the University of Jos, Nigeria, has written for Vanguard newspaper, and is now the Arts and Culture Editor of the Sunday Trust. His entry, “The Bull Man’s Story” won the 2007 BBC African Performance Playwriting Competition, and he has a book too, The Quest for Nina.

The story he was kind enough to submit to us is below. I hope you enjoy...

*********


The tiny corpse lay in a multicoloured bundle, cradled in the mother’s arm. She held out the bundle to me, showing me the innocent face that could have been sleeping but was now very dead. The mother’s brown eyes gleamed, not with grief but with a fiery hostility.

“You killed him, you wicked witch,” she hissed angrily.

The words stung me, like a vicious blow, like the heat had struck me when we first landed in Abuja. It was not particularly strange that she called me a witch; they all did anyway. They found my blonde hair attractive but my grey eyes unsettling. I don’t think they have seen many white women here. They call me The Cat- eyed English Witch and then I’d thought it was kind of…I don’t know, amusing perhaps. But with Manasa standing in front of me, a dead child in her hand; a child I‘d adored, and accusing me of having killed him, it was…shocking, to say the least. Tears fogged my eyes.

It had begun in London one fine Saturday morning in Trafalgar square, six years ago, when I first met Bawa. I was sitting by a fountain, watching the pigeons strolling, pecking at the bread crumbs, pairing up and cooing, doing what pigeons do on a fine summer day. Behind me, I could hear the fountain, sighing sweetly like a lover’s voice. Then the pigeons fluttered their wings noisily, cooing wildly and scattered into the air from a threat I hadn’t noticed. Their soft under feathers seesawed gently down to the ground and then, there he was, standing.


“I didn’t mean to scare you,”

I looked at him. He was young and handsome, and very dark. I guessed he was Nigerian but couldn’t be sure.

I’d thought he wanted to eat them but felt embarrassed immediately.

“Oh, never mind,” I said instead and giggled at my thought.

We got talking. He’d been a student on international scholarship. He became a lawyer and we’d married a year later. I am now a financial consultant with an office in Canary wharf.

One night, he’d come home and told me that his father had died and he needed to go back to Nigeria, where he hadn’t been in seven years. He asked me to come along and I agreed. We landed in Abuja and made the 130 kilometre trip to his village, Akwanga, by car.

I didn’t have a clear idea what to expect but had half-expected to see semi-nude children, barely able to raise their skeletal hands, their wide, hungry eyes imploring, begging to be saved from…well, whatever. That was the image of Africa I had always seen on the BBC. But these people were vibrant, running about their businesses, displaying their colourful wares everywhere, their sweating faces smiling.

We were lodged in a single room – it used to be Bawa’s room. His grieving mother would not look me in the eyes as most of the others. We didn’t seem to have got off on the right footing. I hadn’t knelt to greet her, as my husband did. When I offered her a handshake she just put her head down. I later understood I had been disrespectful. You waited until she offered you a handshake or a hug first. The family was large, the house was small but no one seemed to be complaining. I felt cramped by their communality but yet envied it. The way they did things together, like fetching water from the wells, preparing meals and just about everything else impressed me. Though, most of them spoke a kind of English; mostly pidgin actually, some of them were well schooled but still, they had problems understanding me.

“You speak English English,” one of Bawa’s cousins said, “you talk through your nose.”

Bawa was hardly ever around. He had to take care of the funeral and sort out his father’s assets, mostly with his uncles and aunties and just about everyone else in the extended family.

“Do you have to do everything?” I asked. “Your brother could handle it, couldn’t he? He seems responsible to me. He’s got three children, after all.”

“He may have three children but that doesn’t make him the first son. I am.” He didn’t need to add that the family’s been unhappy with him because he hadn’t visited home for a quite a while. I think they hold me responsible for that too; apart from the fact that I hadn’t given the first son a child after six years of marriage. I’m a career woman, for Christ’s sake, I don’t want a baby!

Well after the burial, Bawa was still kept busy with the inheritance issues. I spend most of the day trying to read a book in the sun or watching the women work, pounding grains in mortars or blowing at the ember in the tripods in order to cook faster. I could work on my tan that way. But Mama asked Lala to tell me that I am a married woman and ought not to be indecently exposing myself and smoking. Lala was very diplomatic in doing so but still, I felt trapped. I waited for Bawa to return that night.

“I’m going back to London.”
“Why?
“I’ve got a job to think about.”
“But you took time off.”
“I am mostly alone here in the middle of people who don’t understand me and you are not here most of the time!”

That got him angry and because I was wound up already, we had a row. He slammed the door on his way out. I needed a drink, so, I went out looking for a pub. I found a beer parlour instead; at least they had beer. I drank a little more than was good for me and someone had to call Lala to rescue his sister-in-law before she embarrassed the family any further. He made coffee for me and tucked me in.

The next morning, Lala came back carrying his baby.
“Thanks for everything,” I said, embarrassed.
“You are welcome.”
“Made a mess of myself, didn’t I?”
“Well, I have done worse.”
“Is that your child?”
“Yes, a boy.”

The boy, just five months old, was cute. He made me think of having one of my own. I held him while Lala talked to me. He told me why most of them would not look into my eyes because they thought them cat like. Only witches have such eyes, they believed. He told me a lot of things about his family and culture that made me understand them better made me think of having a go at making things work. We became friends. I curtsied when greeting Mama and though we needed an interpreter, her smile said more. Though I could hardly manage any of the chores, they appreciated me for offering to help. Mostly they declined, saying the guest should rest.

They seemed less afraid of me and less scary to me as well; most of them anyway, apart from Manasa, Lala’s wife. She was not well educated and had grown less friendly since Lala and I became close. She seemed to have developed this notion that we were equals of sorts because we were both married into the family. I had, at a point, thought that Lala didn’t spend hours talking with her as he did with me; I couldn’t imagine them doing that because he seemed a notch or two above her, well, a lot more notches actually.

I have come to appreciate this people perhaps as much as they appreciate me and I have learnt that we tend to be afraid because we build fences instead of bridges. Their situation is not ideal; not to me at least. Power supply is epileptic, they have problems getting clean water and I waste a lot just to shower. I simply can’t imagine life without a steady power supply or clean water but yet, here are people, living in the midst of these challenges and are able to smile and laugh, even under the scorching heat, the corruption, the institutional brutality and everything else. I realised I lived in a luxury I hardly appreciate.

I had carried Lala’s boy, strapped to my back, as children are carried in these parts. I found it tiring but enjoyable. And the next morning, his mother, Manasa, had come to me with a dead boy, demanding that I bring him back to life with the witchcraft I used in taking him the first instance. She made such a racket and woke the whole house. I cried.

Everyone came out and spoke to Manasa but she wouldn’t budge until Mama came out of her room and slapped her across the face. Then she broke down and cried. Mama hugged me and I wept on her shoulder.
How can I tell Manasa that I could never hurt her child because I adore him so much that it made me want to have one of my own; that I actually have one growing in me?

It’s just that I can’t say precisely whose it is.

Picture Weekend - Book Reading at the Redmond Library

So I was booked to do a book reading and discussion at one of the Libraries in our area. They recently stocked both of my books, A Love Rekindled and A Heart to Mend and were impressed by the interest in them from the members. Anyway, it was a lovely outing and even though only five people in all turned out, I had fun discussing with them in a more intimate and personal way. I even made a new fan/friend, lol...










PS. My hair is growing, right? Time to find something to do to it. Any suggestions?

Frequently Asked Questions - Learning to write from online courses

Hello Myne,

I'm a fan of your blog and your writing. Lately, I realise I have many ideas that I'd like to write down but can't seem to be articulate. I remember a previous post in which you mentioned that you took free writing lessons. Could you please recommend any online programme?

Many thanks,

_________________

Hello

This is a link I bookmarked two years ago and which I refer to on a regular basis.

Diplomaguide.com

When I started out then, I found the Creative Writing Suite 101 course very useful, as well as the Write what you know from the Open University UK.

I have moved on since then to the editing parts, but you can pick and choose as they suite you.

Hope it helps,

Myne

Baz Luhrmann - Everybody´s Free ( to wear sunscreen)

So I saw this over on Mizchif's An Idle Mind, and couldn't believe I was just seeing and hearing it for the first time. There is so much wisdom packed in those 7 mins than you'll believe. Like I keep saying, Free Yourself! and Life is for Living, enjoy it!

If you can't watch the video, make sure to read the words transcribed by Mizchif below it.Thanks for visiting.




Ladies and Gentlemen of the class of ’99
If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be
it. The long term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by
scientists whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable
than my own meandering
experience…I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth; oh nevermind; you will not
understand the power and beauty of your youth until they have faded.
But trust me, in 20 years you’ll look back at photos of yourself and
recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before
you and how fabulous you really looked….You’re not as fat as you imagine.

Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as
effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing
bubblegum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that
never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing everyday that scares you

Sing

Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts, don’t put up with
people who are reckless with yours.

Floss

Don’t waste your time on jealousy; sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes
you’re behind…the race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself.

Remember the compliments you receive, forget the insults; if you
succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements.

Stretch

Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your
life…the most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they
wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don’t.

Get plenty of calcium.

Be kind to your knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone.

Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll have children,maybe
you won’t, maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky
chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary…what ever you do, don’t
congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either – your
choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s. Enjoy your body,
use it every way you can…don’t be afraid of it, or what other people
think of it, it’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own..

Dance…even if you have nowhere to do it but in your own living room.

Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them.

Do NOT read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents, you never know when they’ll be gone for good.

Be nice to your siblings; they are the best link to your past and the
people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go,but for the precious few you
should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and
lifestyle because the older you get, the more you need the people you
knew when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard; live
in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.

Travel.

Accept certain inalienable truths, prices will rise, politicians will
philander, you too will get old, and when you do you’ll fantasize
that when you were young prices were reasonable, politicians were
noble and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund,
maybe you have a wealthy spouse; but you never know when either one might run out.

Don’t mess too much with your hair, or by the time you're 40, it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but, be patient with those who
supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of
fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the
ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen…

Face to face with Simon Cowell - X-Factor Auditions Seattle

So I've been a fan of the X-factor reality show since I lived in the UK and I missed it when I moved here, the American Idol couldn't compare, especially without Simon Cowell. You see, I had developed this love-hate relationship with him, or his personality as a judge. He got my admiration for being very creative and hard working, and I liked his wit and that he could be quite honest. I won't really call the other part hate, lol...I just wished I had his caustic tongue in certain situations (like when I get all those FB messages from bone headed men), and of course so much money can't be bad for you, hehehe...



Anyway, I checked my email a few weeks ago and found a complimentary ticket from one of our favorite concert venues for the audience taping of X-Factor (yes, it's coming to FOX in the fall). I thought it was an upsell at first but it was the genuine awoof. So I quickly booked my ticket, and last week, off I went. Simon Cowell is just as bad in real life as on the TV, Nicole Scherzinger introduced him as the prince of darkness and I'm sure some of those who auditioned will think so too. But there's a sense of humor there and that will certainly have me waiting for all the episodes of the American X-Factor.


Some Pictures for those who can't watch the videos. Enjoy and have a great week!










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