Do bad girls really get all the guys?

"Why do millions of smart, savvy, successful men fall helplessly in love with women who are destined to break their hearts? Who are these Bad Girls, poised to pounce on the next nice guy just waiting to become their prey? While Bad Girls have different strategies for manipulating nice guys, they share certain alluring traits. Irresistibly exciting, clever, flirtatious, and seductive, they make their man feel like the sexiest, most invincible stud on the planet! They take what they want---money, sex, drugs, or other objects of desire---and leave these unsuspecting men in the dust."

Above is from the description of one of the books below by Dr Carole Lieberman on lessons other women can learn from Bad girls. There are even more books saying the same thing. But before we go into all that, is it true that they really get all the guys?






All these books and more seem to think so. What say ye?

Weekend Pictures - US Space and Rocket Center, Alabama

Some of you might know that I have some family in Alabama, we visited them last a couple of years ago and last month we went down south again to catch up. My older nephew wanted to see the space center and we decided to take him and it was also an opportunity for us to see the place. We were planning to go to the Seattle Flight Museum after one of the decommissioned shuttles from NASA got there but that did not happen. So seeing the hefty machines in Huntsville was quite a treat.

Enjoy the pictures and have a great weekend. Mwah!














Happy Thanksgiving and my Meat Pie Recipe


HAPPY THANKSGIVING to everyone, especially those in America. I made some Meat Pie yesterday for Dinner and I want to share the recipe with you this thanksgiving.

Ingredients

*Dough - Plain Flour – 1 Kg, Margarine – 500g, Salt – 2 pinches, Dry spices - 2 pinches, Cold Water - a quarter cup

*Filling - 500g of minced meat, 1 medium-sized onion, 2 medium-sized tomatoes, Seasoning - 2 Maggi / Knorr cubes and 1 teaspoon of mixed spices, Cold water – 1 cup

*1 egg yolk



Tools

Rolling Pin, A Flat surface, Measuring circle – You can use a saucer, pot or dish cover, and cut with a knife. I used the cover of my "I can't believe it's not Butter" jar to cut the dough and it gave me 8 meat pies with the above ingredients. Table Fork – To press the edges of the meat pie after adding the filling.

Directions 

- For the Filling

Wash and slice the onions.
With your cooker or stove set to medium heat, heat the vegetable oil in a pot, add the diced onions and stir for a bit, add the minced meat and stir for about ten minutes.
Add 1 cup of water and the seasoning. Cover the pot and simmer for 20 mins
Add salt to taste, stir the contents and turn off the heat.
Set the meat pie filling aside, preferably in the fridge or somewhere cool.

- For the dough

Put the flour in a sizeable bowl
Use a tablespoon to scoop the margarine in small bits into the bowl of flour. The smaller you make the bits of margarine, the easier it will be for you to rub them into the flour.
Use finger tips to rub the margarine into the flour till the mix becomes like bread crumbs.
Add a pinch of salt at this stage and any dry spices you feel like - I used Lion brand mixed spices
Now, add cold water in bits while at the same time kneading the mix till you have a stiff ball of dough. I only needed like one inch of water in a tall drinking glass.

Rub margarine on the insides of the oven tray and set aside.
Break the egg, separate the yolk and whisk, then set it aside.

Set your oven to 350 and leave to preheat while you continue with the meat pie dough.

- For Rolling the Dough

Place the dough on a flat surface, and roll it out. If it sticks to the surface, spread dry flour first.
Use the cutter to make round cuts on the rolled out dough.

Remove the excess dough, leaving behind the round cuts.
Scoop some meat pie filling into the center of the round cuts, the quantity should be such that you can comfortably close the dough without overflows.
Rub the egg yolk on the inside edge of the cut dough. This ensures that the meat pie is sealed and does not open up while baking.
Fold one part of the dough to meet the other end and use a fork to press the 2 edges together to close tightly.
Place in the oven tray and repeat the previous step till all the dough is used.
Rub the remaining egg yolk over the top of the meat pies. This gives the meat pie a golden brown look when done. Prick the top of the filled dough with the fork tines for a better look :)

- Baking

Set the tray in the preheated oven and bake for 30 to 40 minutes. You can confirm that the meat pie is done when it starts browning. It is alright to open the oven to check this.

Adapted from my favorite recipe site - ALL NIGERIAN RECIPES

How to Recognize a Player?

Babs from my upcoming manuscript has got me thinking of players. But funny thing was, when I typed "who's a player" on search, it threw up links to players in sports, including wiki for Most Valuable Player. Of course, I meant a player in the dating game. Isn't it funny how life and society rewards people who play the best game, those who do whatever it takes to win. In dating however, many different opinions abound.

Some people say dating is a game, and so they need to play their best game, or play by the rules. Others say dating should only be a precursor to a steady relationship, like a long-term romance or marriage, and so no hanky-panky should be allowed. Players, and there are both male and female, definitely excel at hanky-panky, and in dating, some of them are as follows;

- They usually don't pick or answer their phone in the presence of their current partner.
- They usually do not like PDA, or may blow hot and cold depending on who's looking. The male player wants to show off to his mates, but not when other girls are around. Same with the girl.
- The above also goes with how they answer your phone, sometimes with all the sweet words, and other times, can't wait to get off your phone with no "I love you" or goodbye.
- They usually have at least one back-up to the person they're dating. Sometimes more. Have you heard of the guy with one lady for each day of the week, or the one with a guy in every city she visits?
- They're usually good looking, and they know it - checking in glass doors or car mirrors, going to the bathroom to powder, looking in their compact half the time.
- Their relationships usually don't last too long, either they want to move on, or their partner gets tired of the little games they play.
- They rarely want to take dating to the next level, so for them meeting your friends or family is a no-no
- They are usually very charming, they know all the right words to say, all the buttons to press. You're putty in their hands before you even say hi back.

I've come full circle cos the last describes Babs to a tee. Even Dunni's cousin describes him as a perfect gentleman. So the book will also be asking, can a player change? Can he settle down with one woman? We shall see.

In the mean time, do you know any players? Have I missed out any details? Please share.

Networking - 9jamom, DuduLove, FabAfriq and Waka-About

Do you remember 9jamom? They recently had a giveaway to their top ten fans with prizes including Jewelry Sets, Ankara Print Gele, and 9jamom-branded Tote Bags and T-shirts. I managed to snag the jewelry set pictured left which arrived some weeks ago and looks awesome. It is  courtesy of Afrimart, and you can check out their Facebook page for more gorgeous jewelry designs.

On another note, Dudunorth.com is an initiative by a blogger and is solely focused on Nigerian talent in Canada. It is a resource for helping locate needs such as restaurants, salons etc, as well as showcasing upcoming  events in Canada.. Dudunorth aims to bring the Nigerian community to one spot where they can share jokes, reminisce e.t.c. There is also a special section where upcoming weddings would be showcased as well as the "how we met stories".

A section on the dudunorth website equally intends to involve interested Nigerian writers in an endless love story. If you liked Cupid's Risk - free eBook on the right, head on over to Dudulove, and enjoy the already growing collection.

In other news, I contributed a series of Book Reviews to FabAfriq, an upcoming online and print magazine. Also, a review of A Love Rekindled is featured in the first print issue of FabAfriq. You can order the Magazine online for only #2.95.

Also, A Heart to Mend is listed as a highly recommended book in the November/December Edition of Waka-About, a travel magazine based out of Nigeria. The magazine is curated by Pelu Awofeso, one of the premier travel writers in the country. You can get this Magazine at Terra Kulture, Quintessence and The Hub (The Palms Shopping Mall), all on Lagos Island. All the recommended romance novels are published in the centre spread, and I hear the ladies are loving it so far. Interested buyers/subscribers can call Chinyere on 08028335118 or08067884551.



Marrying your Baby Daddy - when there's someone else

The doors opened and “Here Comes the Bride” tinkled from the piano. My dada and I started the customary slow-walk up the aisle. When we had gotten close enough, my dada reached out and gave me a hug and I tried to hold on for as long as I could. He gently disengaged himself and made to leave but I held on tight to his hand. He smiled at me. He had sympathy in his eyes. He understood but then, he discreetly rubbed the bulge that was my tummy and gave me a gentle stare.

I let go of his hand. At that point, it dawned on me that it was not just his hand I let go of. I had let go of part of me, his protection and cover, his name, my hometown, part of my tie to him…….I was leaving my father’s house to be in my husband’s! I stood rooted to the spot for about a minute till I heard my momma clear her throat. I smiled and thought, “I trust my momma to help put things in perspective”. I turned to climb the stairs to where Ranti, my husband-to-be was patiently waiting. My husband-to-be?! Not really. It was more like my baby papa who I am going to spend the rest of my life with.

As I took my seat, I scanned the crowd and saw Max. The minister had started to speak but I was not really paying attention. I have never seen Max this sorrowful in my whole life. My heart reached out to him and I felt a sharp stab of pain in my chest. I had betrayed the one person who should be standing before me here today in the place of Ranti. I should be changing my name today to Mrs Tonya Max Smith instead of Mrs Tonya Ranti Eleru that it will become.

I glanced over at Max again and I felt a wave of heat. My BFF, Desirae and his sister Michelle were at his sides, holding on tight to his hands, probably reassuring him that they were there to support him alone. Oh what a stupid mistake! I cast my mind back to that night...

Max had been abroad for over a year. I was sick of missing him and tired of spending Friday nights alone, watching dumb movies. No matter how much I tried, I just could not have fun. My world was cold and empty without Max. My parents where away for a two-week vacation to celebrate their anniversary and Desirae was spending the weekend at her fiancĂ©’s as he had just arrived from a one-month business trip.

Ranti was my crush from work but it was no big deal. Well, it was not until he showed up at my door step that lonely Friday. I knew better but I invited him in anyway. I was having some of dad’s vintage red wine and some fine small chops I had ordered out on my way from work. I had just dimmed the parlour lights and was about to watch a romantic movie. I mean, I was bored so the least I could do was give as much cinema effect as possible. I asked him to join me. We chatted a little and moved on to watch the movie I had rented.

When the small chops finished, I got out some chocolates from the fridge. Now, who does that? Take alcohol and aphrodisiac in a deserted place with dimmed lights while watching a romantic movie with your crush?! All I know is that I was already getting crushed by the end of the movie and the end result...

The memories fell out of my mind as we walked to the altar. Ranti began his vows and I glanced over at Max again. He looked like he was facing death itself. I could still hear him pleading with my dada to let him marry me regardless but my dada refused, saying he did not want matters to be any more complicated than they already were.

I presented my hand for Ranti to slip the ring on...

____________

Left to me I would say, don't do it. In as much a child deserves his father, the home he grows up in is very important too. What if the couple never hit it off, it's either a sad/abusive marriage, and/or divorce down the line. Not worth it to save face. SMH...

This is a short story by Evon Pink, and she blogs at Maxi Express! If you have any stories or articles you want to share here, contact me.

Beyonce's I was Here - Leaving footprints on the sands of time

It's buzzing all over the news how Beyonce revealed clips of her previously secret wedding in her new video for I Was Here. Of course, the highlight is the wedding gown which is shown twice, front and back views (see the video the cut). For me though, the lyrics are more important. I've always believed it is good to have models and to say it when someone inspires me, and I confess Beyonce does, through some of her songs, and even sometimes in her life.

This song contains one of the thoughts that drive how I live my life. It's not all about me, there has to be a purpose for which I'm here that is bigger than what I want or what will make me happy. I ask myself, what about other people? How can I affect their lives, how can I make a difference? For me, that is the best perk of being a writer - creating something, and having the opportunity through my words, to reach out to so many other people. It's not about the money, nor about the fame, even as these can come in useful, but about viral ideas and influence. It's about sharing something you're passionate about, and having other people tap into it or benefit from it.

Someone complain that people who have a passion to change the world ought not to have families because they end up disappointing their loved ones by giving a large chunk of their time and energy to their passion. This can be true, and so I'm always impressed and want to learn from those who have found a balance. Those who live, who love, and at the same time, were there for their bigger community. For those who are married, it certainly helps when both of them share in that passion. But married, yet to, or single, we can DO something that will show when we're gone, that we were here.



I wanna leave my footprints on the sands of time
Know there was something that, and something that I left behind
When I leave this world, I'll leave no regrets
Leave something to remember, so they won't forget

I was here
I lived, I loved
I was here
I did, I've done, everything that I wanted
And it was more than I thought it would be
I will leave my mark so everyone will know
I was here

I want to say I lived each day, until I die
And know that I meant something in, somebody's life
The hearts I have touched, will be the proof that I leave
That I made a difference, and this world will see

I was here
I lived, I loved
I was here
I did, I've done, everything that I wanted
And it was more than I thought it would be
[ From: http://www.metrolyrics.com/i-was-here-lyrics-beyonce-knowles.html ]
I will leave my mark so everyone will know

I was here
I lived, I loved
I was here
I did, I've done, everything that I wanted
And it was more than I thought it would be
I will leave my mark so everyone will know
I was here

I just want them to know
That I gave my all, did my best
Brought someone to hapiness
Left this world a little better just because

I was here

I was here
I lived, I loved
I was here
I did, I've done, everything that I wanted
And it was more than I thought it would be
I will leave my mark so everyone will know
I was here

From MetroLyrics.com BEYONCE KNOWLES - I WAS HERE LYRICS

Getting to know you Blogfest

1. Name two [romantic suspense] authors who inspire you.

Nora Roberts and Francine Rivers. I love Nora R. for her versatility and longevity, as well as how prolific she has been. The fact that she uses a pen name in some of her writing, just like I do also means I have a special spot for her.

Francine is just such an awesomewriter, my best romance novel so far is Redeeming Love. The way she plumbs my emotions is almost second to none. She may be considered more inspirational romance than romantic suspense but her books do keep me on tenterhooks till I'm done.

2. How did you start writing in your genre?

I've been reading romance novels since I was around 10 or so, from Bertha M.Clay, to Barbara Cartland and Denis Robins and finally the Mills and Boon/ Harlequin series. When I started writing a novella in my second year in University, I think romance came naturally.

3. You've landed a meeting with your dream agent. Write a one paragraph pitch to sell your novel to him/her. (This is still tentative)

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?

4. Sabotage or accident- which would put your female lead through and why?

Sabotage. I think this leads to more excitement and confusion, definitely more suspense.

5. Plotter or Pantser? Who are you?

Is there an inbetween? I plot a little, I know the story, and I know some of the scenes and characters, and then I start writing.

____________

This Blogfest is a carryover from the Platform Building Campaign and was organised by JL Campbell of the Character Depot

The Twilight Saga - Breaking Dawn 1

The book was supposed to be for teenagers, but it has since moved beyond that. Now we have grown women, including myself taking sides on team Edward or Team Jacob, a fictional vampire and a werewolf. SMH @ Myself. Anyway, who's seeing it this weekend?

Playing Second Fiddle to your Man's Job

Read the following story and tell me if you think Vonny did the right thing. What would you do in her shoes?
____

I was feeling real good and was headed out to Beck's Lounge for a little hang time with my gals. As I strolled leisurely along Torres Avenue, someone bellowed my name. I turned and........Christ, I haven't seen this guy in months!

"Steeeeeve!" I screamed as we both ran to hug each other. We were still busy forming 'long lost love' when a car horn blared, forcing us off the middle of the road. Never mind the driver's cursing, Steve and I had a lot to catch up on. With my initial date temporarily forgotten, we headed to the closest eatery. I was still filling Steve in on 'what's new' when my three phones started buzzing all at once. With profuse apologies, I placated my gals and then agreed to come back to Steve in two hours.

My friends were sulking when I got to Beck's Lounge. I apologized again and soon enough, we were 'sniffing' up some Smirnoff with nkwobi while updating each other on other people's relationships- you know the girl gossip thingy now. Two hours flew by quickly and my pals made faces when I told them I had to leave.

As I walked off, one of them yelled, "Vonny, na man dey make you run leave us, shey?"

I chuckled and thought, how true that is. As I got into a cab, I began reminiscing on my first meeting with Steve several months ago.

My computer has been blanking out on me repeatedly in the past few days, causing me to lose some of my work each time. So that last day it happened, I took it as the perfect excuse to see my gal-buddy, Rebecca, and drag her to lunch with me. Now Rebecca owns Becca ICT Inc. so of course, my laptop will be fixed with no charge. As I climbed up the stairs to Becca's, a guy darted from a corner and ran into me, causing me to drop my laptop. He apologized profusely but it was of no use, my laptop was gone! Becca was out in seconds, apologizing and offering to get me another. The guy was one of her staff so the loss made Becca feel really bad. We still got to talk a bit as I picked a new one, but couldn't go for lunch.

I was over at Lagoon restaurant the next day, waiting for my brother so we could have our once-a-month dinner when I spotted the guy from Becca's office, strolling in. I bowed my head hoping if wouldnt see me.

"Hello there. We didnt get properly acquinted yesterday. I am Steve. Do you mind if I join you till your guest arrives?"

He didnt wait for a reply and note, he didnt say anything about my laptop. My initial thought was to throw him off but I changed my mind and he turned out to be a lot of fun. After an hour, it was more than apparent that my brother had stood me up, so we just went on enjoying the evening.

By now you may have guessed that Steve and I became a little more than friends but that's it! We have never been able to move past there- which is nowhere. Barely two months after the incident with my laptop, Steve left Becca's to start his own company. I was ecstatic! We got along great but Steve was so into his company that there was no room for 'us' to exist. Three months after he started his company, I got called out of Lagos for two months to voice a 3D animated movie, and we became lost in our separate worlds.

Once out of the taxi, I strode towards the eatery, barely able to contain my excitement. At the door, I stopped short. Steve was already sitted inside, waiting for me. Looking at him through the glass door now, I felt it wrong to walk in there and more or less, start all over again. Steve is the best but he is married to his work. He is the kind of guy you might have to date(alongside his job) for six years before he marries you, only to play second fiddle to his job.

The thought of it all overwhelmed me with sadness. I slowly let go of the door handle I had been holding and walked away.

_______

This is a short story by Evon Pink, and she blogs at Maxi Express! If you have any stories or articles you want to share here, contact me.


The Son of your Father's Concubine - Seun Salami

One sweet morning, I opened my email to check for new messages and the first had the same subject as the title of this post. I must confess, my heart sped up. I blinked and opened the email. It began...

Hello Myne, Okay...just to be clear, the subject is actually the title of my new book and nothing else. It is a collection of eight short stories dealing with subjects like rape, faith, the search for identity/adventure, etc but they are all tragedies. Many people have said it's a very lovely title...

I stopped there and had a nice laugh. Lovely title ko, sweet title ni, lol. It is definitely a catchy title though. I was intrigued enough to reply the email and want to know the young man who sent it better. I'll let him take it away now...

My name is ‘Seun Salami, I was born in Ogun State, Nigeria. I have a BSc in Journalism from the Lagos State University and I just concluded an MSc in Mass Communication at the University of Lagos. I’m first a writer and then I also work as an editor at a publishing firm. I read a lot and my job also means that I get to read a lot of books before they are published. My debut collection of short stories has just been published; it’s called The Son of your Father’s Concubine.

When and why did you begin writing?

I would have loved to tell you that I started writing from my mother’s womb or at a very tender age and all those nice things but unfortunately, I am not one of such people. Although I read a lot when I was younger, my early medium of expression was drawing which a lot of people said I did very well. I remember on one family occasion, I sat in a corner and drew one of the guests and then presented the picture at the end of the event. So, naturally, I did well in technical drawing and my dream was to become an architect. I even had building plans I drew before I got into secondary school. But then it wasn’t until third term of SS2 that I discovered what my real gifting was. I was having difficulties with Physics and here I was preparing for my ‘Senior WAEC’ as it was called, so I knew I needed help.

I visited my guidance counsellor (at Kings College in Lagos) and after series of questions about my abilities, the man (Mr. Olabode) told me clearly that I was better of as an Arts student. It was like a bombshell. Cut the long story short, I made the switch at the 99th. Interestingly, before then, I was already a member of the Drama Club, Press Club, Debating Society and everything else but the Science Club. In the Drama club where I often played the female roles, we acted out most of the plays like The gods are not to blame, Marriage of Anansewa and poems like Nightfall in Soweto which the Literature students were reading as part of school work; so I already knew most of them very well. After my first exam as a Literature student, I had the highest score and the rest as they say is history.

What inspires you to write? 
I think reading inspires my writing. I think so. I read a lot, it’s scary because I can stay up all night reading a book but I can’t do that for a movie because I don’t have the patience to see out movies that’s why I don’t do cinemas. I usually get inspired to write after I have read something. I might feel something was not written the best way it could have been done or I come across a character that says something that gives me an idea of something entirely different. But beyond all of that, I think the source of all of the ideas is the spirit of God who gives the ultimate inspiration. Some people have read my book and said to me that they do not believe I came up with some of those things and that it had to either have been something I experienced or the inspiration of God. I think the latter is true.

What was your publishing journey like, from thinking of the book idea to holding it in your hands?
Again, I do not fall into the category of authors that spent years looking for an agent before getting a publisher. I work at a publishing firm called Bookvine (an imprint of Vine Media) and I have edited books that the organisation has published. So, that made things a bit easy in terms of getting it published. Most of the stories in my book were written in 2009 while I was undergoing the compulsory National Youth Service in Nigeria. I had some time on my hands and since all I did was read, it naturally produced my writings; all sorts of things but I didn’t plan that I was going to publish a collection of short stories.

One of the stories was actually supposed to be a full length novel but I found that short stories just kept coming. I also completed a non-fiction book for students in that one year. However, it was when I returned to Lagos and picked up my copy of Chimamanda’s The thing around your neck, to re-read, that it occurred to me that I actually had a collection of about twelve short stories that could be published and I started working on them again. Eight of them eventually made the cut.

Why short stories? Do you plan to write a novel too?
Short stories come naturally to me. I can’t really say why, but they just come naturally. Although I cannot be called a ‘short story writer’ because I also write non-fiction and I’m working on my first novel. The novel is an epic, set in ancient Yorubaland in Nigeria. I think it’s going to be something big and I’m taking my time to write it, two years in the least. I’ve spent more money buying books and research materials for it than I have spent on clothes this year, so hopefully, I should come up with something very rich and very special and it can be published in a couple of years. I also have a non-fiction book I have completed; it is called Good - Better - Best.

Discuss one of the stories in your book.
This is tough. Ordinarily, I should like to discuss the title story, The Son of your Father’s Concubine. It is about a chaste Christian girl in the church choir who was raped on her way home from a vigil on Saturday of Easter. She got pregnant and didn’t realise early enough and her world takes a turn for the worse. Her parents and the church instead of supporting her, turned their backs since she refused to confess who she had been ‘fornicating’ with. A year later, she meets the man who raped her and he is now a pastor. From then, the story takes an unprecedented twist. I actually love the conclusion and end of that story very much. But then, my best is Pastor Jay is dead which is about a campus pastor who came back from the dead to win a soul; it’s quite dramatic.

Do you have a major theme that runs through all the stories?
 Although it wasn’t planned, all the stories turned out to be tragedies in one way or the other; but each one is extremely thought provoking and full of lessons.

What books have most influenced your life most?
 If it is about life in general, the one book that has made the most impact on my life is Holy Spirit, my Senior Partner by Benny Hinn because it was a paradigm shift after I read that book. But in literature, the books are countless, really.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
 Another tough one. You said, a writer, so that would be Chimamanda (Ngozi Adichie). I love her a lot, though we’ve only met once and I’m not sure she can remember me if she sees me today. But I love her courage and bravery; she is very daring and her writing is daring. I can’t write some of the things Chimamanda writes, she is just too bold and I love that. But in life, I have mentors in different things; chief of them is Fela Durotoye to whom I owe a lot of the things I know and the person I have become over the last two years.

What books are you reading now?
 I’m reading a ‘Teach Yourself’ book for writers to help me understand how to assist the publishers in promoting and marketing my book amongst other things. But naturally, I also have a lot of books waiting and I just bought Half of a Yellow Sun for the third time because I can’t find the last one I bought (someone must have taken it) and I’m going to read it again after my book has gained some momentum.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
 New authors; I think Steve Harris stands out. I edited his first book From College Drop-out to Corporate Sell-out and for a first time author; I thought it was absolutely brilliant! I’ve also seen his second book which is more like fiction and it is amazing, so I like him. I also like Lola Shoneyin. I read The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives and I thought she did a great job. Just that I’m not sure if she is a new author.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
 I think that would be the fact that there is no constant power supply (yet) in Nigeria. It is a bit difficult, especially for someone like me that likes to write on my laptop directly. Once power is off, I begin to pray for my battery life and once that goes off too, I have to start tweeting or doing something else while the thoughts and story line evaporates.

Who is your favourite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
 I’m sure you know that by now. (Smiles)

What do you think of the Nigerian publishing industry?
 It is tough. Very. There is a lot to be done, especially with structures for distribution and promotion of books. Interestingly, there are great authors in Nigeria, but Nigeria is not the place where you want to set up a publishing industry (yet) so many of them either have to go abroad or self publish their book.

What comments do you have about the reading culture in the country?
 Well, I used to think Nigerians don’t like to read, but I have recently found that if your book is good and you get people to know about it, they are willing to read. I walk into bookshops these days and I can’t find some books because the sellers say they are out of print. We may not be reading as much as the rest of the world, but there is something Nigerians want to read, if you write it, they’ll buy it.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Well, I guess the major news at the moment is the fact that the book is out there, even as we prepare for the official launch and book reading. It will hold on Sunday, November 20 in Ikeja, Lagos. I will be reading with inspirational speaker, Steve Harris and Sokleva a member of a hip-hop group (Rooftop MCs). A female celebrity will also join us to read the title story. I will be signing books at the event and I can answer as many questions as possible there while we listen to music and have some fun.

Where can we get your book?
The book is available at major bookshops in lagos as well as selected places in other states; Hub Media Stores, Silverbird Lifestyle Stores, Terra Kulture, Debonair Bookshop, University of Ibadan bookshop, Obafemi Awolowo University Bookshop and Bundle of Joy in GRA, Benin.

Do you have an online presence?
I think so (smiles). My twitter handle is @SeunWrites and I try to tweet as much as possible. I also have a facebook account (‘Seun Salami). I write a column on YNaija.com (which I hope to resume actively once this book reading is done) and I’m working on a personal website. But the publisher’s website has some information and a free e-copy of a story in my book. You can check it out at www.vinemediang.com

Applicants for US Visa Lottery Reduce, Canada Introduces Super Visa

One of my relatives applied for the diversity visa lottery last year and got an email around March telling them they got through. A few weeks later, another email came, saying it was a computer failure and they're sorry, the person did not make it. Can you imagine? Anyone who knows how most Nigerians regard the visa lottery as a ticket to heaven will understand what a let down that is.

Anyway, I'm not surprised that as the application period just ended, the US State Department says only 8 million people applied. This is in comparison to last year's figure of 15 million. The Department is saying it is because it removed Bangladesh from the list, but they can go and tell that to the birds. Apart from the disappointment with the system failure, there is the situation of the economy in the United States.

The past few years have been terrible, and it was all over the news how unemployment rates had shot up and how people were losing their homes. Knowing how we're everywhere, I'm sure many Nigerians in America must have been personally affected, and some would have advised their people back home not to bother applying. I even know of several people who actually returned to Nigeria at the height of the crisis. That will certainly not encourage anyone to want to come over.

Another likelihood is that as third world countries stabilize and begin to maximise their own economies, there will be less poor to rich country migration. One can't also rule out the power of the internet. Where once people in such third world countries depended on a few filtered media channels for stale news, nowadays, news is disseminated instantly on blogs, online websites, etc. As people home and abroad, share photos and notes on Facebook and Twitter, the more the mirrored glass walls are broken down.

On Canada, well they seem to be keeping far away from the mistakes of the US, they've just announced a new two-year, multi-entry "super visa" for parents and grandparents of Canadian immigrants. The multiple-entry visa will be valid for up to 10 years, and will allow applicants to remain for 2 years in Canada before requiring a renewal. Launching December 1, the visas will be issued about 8 weeks after the application.

I remember a post by Good Naija Girl on Marrying for Papers, where she discussed how Canadian citizens who file for their spouses to immigrant have to be liable for them for about 3 years or so. This is a similar situation. The children who bring in their parents and grandparents will be responsible for all the expenses of the new migrant including health. They do not qualify for state benefits or other programs.
When you think about it, Canada will be making money hand over fist. Their population will increase and lead to a bigger economy which expands as more people begin to spend more. Their airways and tourist, as well as immigration bodies will make some good dollars from these visitors - travel fares, lodging, immigration fees, etc. In addition, I hear that buying a personal health insurance plan will be one of the requirements for those that seek the visa. The European countries should borrow some pages from whoever wrote this policy :)

BTW, what is Nigeria doing while all this is going on? Let me not go there, Jonathan is...

Book Launch - String Bridge by Jessica Bell

Today is THE day to help Jessica Bell's debut, STRING BRIDGE, hit the bestseller list on Amazon, and receive the all-original soundtrackMelody Hill: On the Other Sidewritten and performed by the author herself, for freeAll you have to do is purchase the book today (paperback, or eBook), November 11th, and then email the receipt to: jessica.carmen.bell(at)gmail(dot)com. She will then email you a link to download the album at no extra cost!

To purchase the paperbackAmazon USA, Amazon UK
To purchase the eBookAmazon USAAmazon UK
To listen to samples of the soundtrack, visit iTunes.



If you are not familiar with String Bridge, check out the book trailer:



Rave Reviews for String Bridge:

Jessica Bell’s STRING BRIDGE strummed the fret of my veins, thrummed my blood into a mad rush, played me taut until the final page, yet with echoes still reverberating. A rhythmic debut with metrical tones of heavied dark, fleeting prisms of light, and finally, a burst of joy—just as with any good song, my hopeful heartbeat kept tempo with Bell’s narrative.~ Kathryn Magendie, author of Sweetie and Publishing Editor of Rose & Thorn Journal

“Poet and musician Jessica Bell's debut novel String Bridge is a rich exploration of desire, guilt, and the difficult balancing act of the modern woman. The writing is lyrical throughout, seamlessly integrating setting, character and plot in a musical structure that allows the reader to identify with Melody's growing insecurity as her world begins to unravel … String Bridge is a powerful debut from a promising writer, full of music, metaphor, and just a hint of magic.” ~ Magdalena Ball, author of Repulsion Thrust and Sleep Before Evening

Jessica Bell is a brilliant writer of great skill and depth. She doesn't pull back from the difficult scenes, from conflict, pain, intensity. She puts it all out there, no holds barred, no holding back. She knows how to craft a scene, how to develop character, how to create suspense. This is an absolutely brilliant debut novel. I look forward to reading her next novel, and next and next.” ~ Karen Jones Gowen, author of Farm Girl, Uncut Diamonds and House of Diamonds

Please TWEET and/or FACEBOOK this post using #StringBridge!

Ashley Billasano - Social Media and Sucide

I read about the teenager who tweeted and committed suicide on  Bumight's post - For Ashley Billasano. A few months ago it was Motunrayo Ogbara's suicide all over the blogs and Twitter. This got me thinking. Is it that there is more suicide now, or simply that it is more reported in the media? More disturbing, why is it usually so closely related to social media? Is there a danger that people are copying others who they see or hear commit suicide on Twitter or Facebook?

Social media guru, Trey Pennington wrote on twitter: 'Sure am thankful for online friends who are real friends offline, too. Love you.' just hours before his death. In Seoul, a former DJ tweeted, “I’m going to commit suicide. To all of you, even those who shared the slightest friendship with me, I love you,” and went ahead to hang himself. Clementi, the guy who committed suicide after being outed said farewell via Facebook: "Jumping off the gw bridge sorry." Some of you may remember Simone black, whose friends did nothing to help after she posted on FB, 'Took all my pills, bye bye'.
There are even more cases, and close similarities, that I'm left with more questions instead of answers. Will socialized suicides become so common that more people think it's no big deal and do the same? Will we only shrug and move on when such news break?

But there is some hope, Facebook has partnered with The Samaritans to help prevent suicide. They even have a dedicated help page for those who may have friends affected. Also, in South Africa, a community on Twitter was able to stop a mother of two from killing herself. They tweeted love and support to her and spread her details till she was found and secured. It also made the main network news when the same happened with a follower of Demi Moore back in early days of Twitter in 2009.

One thing is certain,  we can't negate these connections we make online. Like I said in my Blog Abandoned post, I wonder where and how bloggers who disappear are, and hope they're OK. It may seem our collective memories are very short, but we do remember. News like this may go away, but it never dies. Some people knew Ashley Billasano personally, chatted with her on twitter, read her last tweets and tried to help and encourage her. How are they feeling now? Guilty, lost, betrayed?

To be honest, I am a bit confused by all this. I may say suicide is not an option, or that it is not a way out of depression or life's problems. I wish they would think of those they left behind, their friends and family who care for them and who will bear that loss for the rest of their lives. But who am I to talk really? Have I walked in their shoes? Even if I don't understand them, I can decide to be human, and show a heart.

For Ashley Billasano, Motunrayo Ogbara and those who could not bear it anymore. Rest in Peace.

For those still alive, and who are in pain. Please reach out and seek help. I pray peace for you, and life.

How to improve your Alexa Blog Ranking

In one of the blogging tips posts I did titled "I want more Comments", Amb Caleb commented that he needed some tips on ranking. That got me thinking because I didn't have a ready answer for him. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't as if I hadn't heard of blog rankings before, but, I had never really done anything beyond that.

I had found out about both Pagerank and Alexa earlier this year on one of my blog improvement wanderings around the interwebs. Google Pagerank measures the reputation of your site based on the weight it gets via search engines and is ranked between 1 and 10, the bigger the better. Alexa ranks your place among other sites based on traffic and other indicators and the closer you are to 1, the better. Google.com ranks #1 and some blogs I checked were up to 25 million. When I first checked , I was happy with my Pagerank 4 (both nairaland and Bellanaija are also 4), and though a bit confused by the Alexa ranking of 1.5 million.

At first I thought 1.5million is OK if some are 25mill, but when I compared the ranking of my blog to some other related sites, it became obvious that I was missing something. Nairaland is 1k, Bellanaija and Linda Ikeji are around 10k. As I monitored,, I saw some new websites shoot straight to less than 200k in a week, and with virtually a tenth of my traffic. What was going on? What was the secret?

One may wonder why the need for such rankings. This is because most advertisers use Pagerank and Alexa rankings as the determinants of how much to pay for the clicks or impressions their ads get on sites and blogs. So, if you have ads on your blog, maybe google adsense or other affiliate or clickback and want to earn more income, you should be interested on how to improve your ranking.  If you also write paid reviews or paid blogposts, good rankings also grant you a better bargaining power with those that want to pay for posts on your blog.

It was time for me to investigate. And I found it wasn't even a secret. It is right there on the Alexa website. Their rankings are only based on visitors to your blog or website who use their toolbar. So that was it, the toolbar? I was sceptical at first and decided to use my Google Fu. All the sites on the front page agreed that installing the tool bar is the number one way to improve your Alexa ranking. Some had other options, from about 5 strategies, up to 20 tricks. The toolbar was common in all, the others could have been just ways to improve your traffic. The thinking being that as your traffic improves, the more likely it is that browsers using the Alexa toolbar will be among your visitors.

Anyway, I still wasn't convinced. I had to try it out myself. I registered my other site, www.naijastories.com, on Alexa, then created and installed a toolbar. The toolbar I installed was on an Internet Explorer browser which I rarely used, and only for visiting Naijastories in this experiment. Within one week, the ranking jumped from 900k to 500k. After I saw the results, I began to use the IE browser to visit this blog. The ranking has now gone from 1.4 million to 900k. In two days! If I were in the court, I would say, "no further comments, your honor", lol...

For those interested, check your Google Pagerank, and download an Alexa Toolbar.

Remember, your Alexa ranking is just to help you track your efforts in blogging and maybe earn more. At the end of the day, the joy in blogging is to write what you like, and to interact with your visitors. Only great content and a stand-out personality will get your readers coming back for more. Happy blogging!

How not to discipline a child - Judge's daughter releases video

See, I was born and raised in Nigeria where corporal punishment is allowed from primary through secondary school and so I'm a bit immune to beatings (one major disadvantage of punishments). However, my parents only administered the cane when necessary, and there were never whips or belts flying around.

I recently read about how a daughter, now 23, released a video of her father, a judge, whipping her when she was 16. Mike's post on Sparing the Rod was fresh on my mind then and I couldn't help wincing as I watched the blows land on the girl. Why would parents do that to their own child? Why would you vent your anger on a child in the name of punishment? And the mother, telling the girl to take it like a grown woman. What grown woman would take that kind of beating from another person?

Judge William Adams beats daughter for using the internet - YouTube:


Now I believe in discipline for children, but I think one should be restrained when it comes to spanking, beating or whipping. And when the child is a teenager, there are surely other ways to correct or punish them in a less brutal and more rational manner? Sometimes, like in this video, it appears that the parent just wants to bully the child instead of training them in the way they should grow.

Apart from the beating, what also turned me off so much was the swearing. I just cannot stand cursing, and especially in front of children. The judge needs to wash his mouth with soap. The girl being beaten is 16 and a smaller child of less than 10 appeared at the beginning of the video too. What sort of example is that?

Well, with the outcry this video has gotten, I hope more people know how not to discipline a child. It really shouldn't hurt to be a child.

Weekend Pictures - Some thoughts from FaceBook

So Facebook recently seem to have put more weight in pictures and nowadays, I find my timeline strewn with some of these nuggets among others. Hope you like them too...
Wise words and yes, you are beautiful. Remember, there's sunshine after every storm. Sometimes, we actually need the rain to wash stuff away so we can see clearly. 

So not only is there Plan B, there's plan C all the way to Z. Pretty cool way of saying, keep trying. Perseverance sure works. Reminds me of Aaliyah's Try again. If at first you don't succeed...
True words. You'll be surprised how much of your life, including your attitude in most things, is determined by the people around you. Be careful who you choose as friends and confidantes. 
 This is an interesting one, you may need to enlarge to read. Makes you think. I'm a fan of FB and all, but sometimes, I wonder. Is there a catch? When something seems too good to be true, it usually is.
Funny, this one. I wrote a short story for it on Naijastories.com

“Wait for them,” Biodun told the driver of the airconditioned jeep, his feet jiggling to thoughts of where he wished to be, in the hotel room he’d booked for their first night together. Remi was taking the last of the photographs in the now empty grounds of church as most of the people who attended their wedding had moved on to the reception hall.
“Soon darling,” she mouthed as she finally got in her own jeep and closed the door.
Biodun wondered what had possessed him to agree to separate vehicles to the reception, even the few minutes apart would be agony. He wound down his window and motioned Remi to do the same. While she was still at it, he wiggled out of the space toward her. He just had to have a kiss.
Do you have your own theory? Please share. Enjoy fall and do have a lovely weekend. Mwah!

Nigerian Love - Romantic names in local languages

I got this email from one of my new readers and I wanted to share with you guys so you can also add your perspective. Now this post is not about inter-cultural relationships or the people in the email in particular, I just want us to share our experiences about Nigerian love and romance. How do we keep our relationships fresh and fun?

Hi Myne! I ran across your very interesting site as I was attempting to find a romantic name or phrase for my new friend, (insert igbo male name here). He is Nigerian... but I am already smitten. We both ... agreed to keep our courtship fresh and fun. i know nothing about African men...what offends them, their culture. Could u help me understand the culture a little better please?! Thanks in Advance...



I'll use Atala and I as an example. I am from Asaba and can only speak Igbo fluently, with very small dashes of Hausa and Yoruba. Atala is Yoruba but barely speaks it, I've never heard him hold a conversation in it. So, we speak English to each other, all the time. I'm not very good with new languages but we try to teach each other bits and pieces of Yoruba and Igbo in fun ways. We're not succeeding much I can tell you :)

Now to the romance bit. I don't know about you all, but there are times when English is not enough and I just want to express my love in my mother tongue. Now, I don't think Igbos are given to vocal outbursts of affection but they are not completely without either so I have a few in my arsenal.I have also heard about what the Yoruba call Oriki (praise singing) and find it awesome. I wish I could do that, I would be rubbing Atala's head everyday, the guy is just too much. Of course some of it will fly over his head, lol...

Some words and phrases, both Igbo and Yoruba I use at sweet moments include Obim(my heart), Nkem (my own), Ife mi (my love), Usom (my sweetie), Oko mi (my husband), and Nwoke oma (good man). Those versed in titles can add more like - Nwoke di mma Nwoke eji eje mba, Ife nkili, etc (Please add more). Oh yes, I love you in Igbo is A hurum gi n'anya, and in Yoruba, mo fe e

House of Silk - A new Sherlock Holmes novel by Anthony Horowitz

I've always been a fan of Sherlock Holmes and devoured all the books I could find growing up. Some were scary, some were blander, but in all, the Holmes was thrilling, his eye for obervation, how he could join the dots, it almost seemed psychic :) I like to think some of it rubbed off on me and will usually joke that I have ESP, Atala calls it jumology, most things don't get past me, lol. Back to Sherlock Holmes, this new novel is not by Arthur Conan Doyle, the original author and creator of that classic detective. I still think I'll go for it...

What about you?

Signed, Hopelessly in Love - Lauri Kubuitsile (Guest Author)

Hi Everyone, my guest today is a writer I admire a lot. I found Lauri's blog, Thoughts from Botswana, sometime last year and have followed her since. I knew Lauri was a talented writer from her blog, and knowing she had 13 novels published was an encouragement and a challenge. Now I've read some of her short stories and a couple of her romance novels, it's confirmed. I'm in love! :)

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Lauri Kubuitsile

1. I’m a naturalised citizen of Botswana; I was born in the USA. Botswana doesn’t allow dual citizenship so I renounced my American citizenship more than 10 years ago.

2. I was a science teacher for almost ten years.
3. I have two teenage children, two small yappy dogs and two aloof cats. I think I may have an issue with the number two.
4. I love bush walks, but am scared to death of elephants. When I see one the hair on my arms stand up- really!
5. My husband, whom I’ve been married to for 20 years, was in the first group of Batswana to attend the Olympics (in Seoul South Korea). He’s a boxer.

Lauri was recently shortlisted for the Caine Prize for African writing, and has a long and impressive CV. She gives talks and workshops on writing and below, she gives some tips to fellow writers.

How to Write Fiction that Hooks the Reader
I think a good plot is crucial. I’ve changed my opinion on this over the years. I used to think interesting characters were the most important thing but interesting characters without an interesting plot doesn’t keep me reading. I learned from writing a continuing series for television that at the end of each episode you need to leave a hook so the viewers come back the next week. I think that’s a good idea too, to leave a hook at the end of each chapter. Perhaps a bit of foreshadowing or a question in the reader’s mind. This keeps the reader reading. Of course too, they need to care about the characters, the reader needs to want to know what happens to these people if not they’ll put the book down and never pick it up again.

Why Book Covers are So Important
Book covers matter, they are what lures the reader in. The cover for this book went through some permutations. The first cover had the original title. To be honest, I wasn’t that keen on the first cover. (I’ve attached it) The sales department at the publisher went around with the cover and did some sort of test and found it was not successful. That’s when the new cover and title came into being. I’m very happy with the new cover. I know as a book buyer covers matter. I think the new one is far more enticing. 

Finally, 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Lauri's latest book; Signed, Hopelessly in Love

1. It was originally titled Aunt Lulu.
2. It was entered for a children’s writing contest in South Africa, The Sanlam Prize, when it was still an unpublished manuscript and was shortlisted but didn’t win. The winners are published each year, but the publisher liked my story so much she decided to publish it too.
3. My cat, Sergeant Catman, appears in the book, though she’s had a sex change and got a promotion to Major Catman.
4. The headmaster’s name is Mr Dikolobe and the kids call him Pigs. Why? Because in Setswana dikolobe is the word for pigs.
5. The publisher hired someone to write the letter from Hopelessly in Love instead of using a handwriting font.

So which do you prefer?

Buy Signed, Hopelessly in Love; Amazon.com, Amazon.co.ukBook depository.com and Kalahari.com (SA)

NaNoWrimo 2011

"At midnight on November 1, armed only with their wits, the vague outline of a story, and a ridiculous deadline, more than 250,000 people around the world will set out to become novelists. Why? Because November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, the world’s largest writing challenge and nonprofit literary crusade. Participants pledge to write 50,000 words in a month, starting from scratch and reaching “The End” by November 30." Nanowrimo 2011 Press Release

Yes, I have signed up again this year, and hope to finish the first round editing for A Fiery Love and also have the draft of a new book cranked out this November. I know I'm going to need lots of coffee, caramel ice-cream, and newly discovered yogurt smoothies to get through this. The other thing that keeps me going is your awesome support. Thank you all. I look forward to the coming week and to November. Mwah!