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5 Writing Books to Add to your Writer’s Library

June ends with grace and half a year is in the bag.  Nairobi is cold.  Coffee, warm clothes, and scarves have become a staple in our corner.  It’s perfect reading weather.  If you’re a writer working on improving your writing skills, here’s a list of books to get you started, or to keep you going.  They add great resources to your writing kit and I’ve found I’ve returned to all of them more than once.

1. Gotham Writer’s Workshop: The Practical Guide from New York’s Acclaimed Creative Writing School

I discovered this book right after high school and it’s been a staple in the library.  I’ve lost copies of it and ended up with an ebook. This book is a great start if you’re just beginning.  When you don’t know where to start, it will get you through the idea stage, to how to formulate your story, and equip you with tools on how to create characters, decide your POV and dialogue basics.  My favorite concept from this book is, ‘Ideas are everywhere.  The writer of fiction must learn to search the world for these seeds.’  It’s a great addition to your writing books, and will help you find out how to plant your seeds and help them grow into fiction


2. The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller

This book was a referral.  My favorite quote from this book is: ‘Good Storytelling…gives the audience the experience of a life…” If you want a more in-depth way of approaching storytelling, this is the perfect book.  It discusses story structure, parts of the ‘story world’, and exploration on how to develop that world.

3. On Writing

I absolutely love the idea of looking at writing as a form of telepathy.  I love magic and the possibilities it represents.  On Writing is a look at how to deal with rejection letters from publishers, how to build your writing toolbox and unearthing the fossils of story that fill your imagination.  It’s a very entertaining take on the craft and I find that it helps to return to this book when I’m stuck.  The best advice I got from this book is that you need to keep reading.  Read everything that you can, to become a better writer, to increase your knowledge on people, places, ideas, concepts…just read, probably more than you write, or just as much.


4.  Roget’s Thesaurus of Words for Writers

Now, if you’re like me and English is the third language, hahaha, you’ll know that writing English can be difficult.  It has very many words and a gazillion ways to describe things.  This thesaurus is a great addition to your library for this purpose. Writers need new words in their writing toolbox so as not to repeat themselves and become boring.  We remember what we often practice, so the thesaurus will help you discover new ways to say remember.

5. Show Your Work by Austin Kleon

This last book is about embracing your writing and loving it no matter what level you are in terms of publishing/self-publishing or just sharing your fiction space.  I love everything about this book.  It explores productivity, how to create and share without allowing fear to cripple you.  Mostly because I have a serious productivity weakness that I’ve been working on conquering.  The last two years have been full of activities in my personal life that took attention away from writing.  It’s not easy getting back.  It’s like starting again when you get back to it. You need input, ideas, and concepts in books to help you along. ^_^ This book has been perfect.  Words like these, ‘Share what you love, and the people who love the same things will find you. Make me really happy.  I want to say I’m in love with this book and because I love it, I’m sharing and hoping you will love it too. 

Writing is a skill to learn and improve.  The books above have been a great addition to my reading list.  There are more, but these have stood out for me in this month of June.

Keep writing!

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Once Upon a Lane – Book Review

Once Upon A Lane


There once was a lane, filled with well-tended lawns and well-fostered friendships, of well-appointed houses all neat and tidy and those that live within, of stories and mysteries that manifest for only fleeting moments for the few who pay attention. This is one such tale. – By Duncan Wilson


Book Review

Once Upon a Lane is a tale about an ensemble of souls living as neighbors on the same street, each one with strengths and weaknesses, others hiding deep secrets behind closed doors.  These parts of themselves work to create a unique and pleasant community.

Duncan Wilson describes life along this lane with vivid imagery.  His characters constructed with careful detail that brings each one to life, making it easy to imagine them in the mind’s eye.  The hidden world that emerges in this lane is unique, full of childhood adventures, colorful garden spaces and fantastic characters.

Young Tommy is once asked, ‘How is the Lane today?’ and he answers, ‘It’s the same as it always is, idyllic.’  It is a perfect description of life in this community.

Wilson explores the human condition with his characers, carving out relationship bonds between friends, family, lovers, pets, strangers, and other…creatures.  The most charming of all these bonds are the children and their effortless bonds of friendship, easy love, whims of magical adventure and the imaginary worlds they create.

I enjoyed the adventures of the Youngest Murphy Boy the most.  His heart is full of loyal love and he manages to charm everyone he meets.  One would never guess he harbors any struggles born of emotional scars.  His friendliness is only second to lovers/partners, Ida and Ella, this epic couple that dishes out cookies and baked goods to the neighborhood.

The lane has a blight titled the House with the Dead Lawn.  Much of the story is centered on the mystery of this house that no one dares approach.  There is also Mrs. Habernathy, who is the least-liked character.  She is nosy, unpleasant, gruff and unfriendly.  She remains the one character whose story I would have loved a much deeper exploration.  I’m left infinitely curious of her inner world.

Once Upon a Lane follows an eclectic cast of characters.

They live their ordinary lives in a more than extraordinary stretch of road.  Their lives woven into a tight web of familiarity that is only possible in a community of neighbors.  Unseen among them is an extraordinary secret.

This secret rolls and pulses under the surface of their idyllic lives.  Epitomized in the form of a house with a dead lawn, and Mrs. Habernathy, whose behavior is at one point described as, ‘…disquieting and unnerving…’  This hidden mysterious secret drives the reader through the pages to a very startling discovery about Mrs. Habernathy and her connection to the house with the dead lawn.

I would recommend this book to anyone fond of slice of life stories filled with mystery, secrets behind closed doors, and love between family, friends and lovers.  Most of all, if you have imagined your community is hiding a secret, you definitely must read this book to discover what kind of secret it could be.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Unaffected Resolve – Review

The Unaffected Resolve

by Humphrey Osoro

The Unaffected Resolve Volume 1 is an introduction to Lisa Sagini.  She starts out unconscious and injured, but soon wakes up on the back of a cat-like creature.  She then discovers the world, as she knows it, has gone through an apocalyptic event.  The cat-like creature carrying her has chosen to save Lisa and her junior, a man named Orville.  His reasoning is that he can guarantee their survival and they in turn shall provide him vital information.

What Lisa Sagini wants to know most is why the world they knew had to change.  Why did they have to lose their friends and family?  How will they survive after this apocalypse?

However, the questions above are not tackled in this volume.

  Volume 1’s sole purpose is to introduce Lisa Sagini: who she is now and where she has come from.  Lisa is a soldier in the Kenyan Army, has a strong personality and it is clear that she is comfortable in her own skin.  Each scene is drawn to depict Lisa’s reality in vibrant colors and clear visuals and her memories serve to unfold the story.  Her narrative adds to the story as it transitions deeper into the past.

This introduction reads very fast, and leaves you with the familiar feeling of wanting to know more at the end of the volume.  I enjoyed reading this start into a post-apocalyptic Kenya and I find myself curious as to what would have led to the apocalypse.  Most importantly, how will Lisa survive in this new world?

I would recommend this volume to anyone +16 and beyond.  The volume does have some serious and violent content.  This is also a perfect start for someone who wants to read but doesn’t feel like they have time for an intensive novel.  The plot is strong and complex, with promise of more engaging story in the later volumes.

The writer and illustrator shared a copy of this comic with me. You can read it at this link: The Unaffected Resolve

3 Writing Webinars that will help you get started on writing your Novel

Writing is a personal process that often requires constant learning. Free Webinars to get you started or keep you going can be very uplifting and inspiring. Here are three webinars I found useful and packed full with information.

Inkitt’s Novel Writing Boot Camp

I discovered this course when I joined Inkitt.com a while back. It has ten video lessons that guide you through the ideal process of writing a novel. The tips and structure shared give you a strong foundation to help you shape a story. I found that this writing boot camp unstuck me when I was in a writing bind. If you want to write a novel, but don’t know where to start, this is the perfect course.

The 10 lessons will walk you through the fundamental tools necessary for writing a novel and succeeding the craft of story telling.

inkitt.com

Nanowrimo’s Nano Prep 101

Nanowrimo is a great challenge to take on. It stands for National Novel Writing Month. The month of choice is November. Before that, you can prepare to take on the challenge of writing a novel by participating in Nano Prep. You can download the Nano Prep 101 Handbook and get started on your preparations, or wait until September to join millions worldwide in the same process. I felt that giving this a try was a great way to understand my own writing process. The handbook has a lot of information on character creation, planning your story and creating worlds. It is perfect for beginners and experienced writers too.

linkedin.com’s Writing: The Craft of Story

Linkedin has a learning center packed with different types of courses you can take. You can sign up for a free trial, or pay a fee to join the learning center. I found this course and thought it quite enlightening. It has great insights on all the parts of great story telling. It is not the only course on Linkedin on writing, there are loads more, that include topics on editing your work. The learning center is a great place to explore if you’re looking for information, insights on writing, and hoping to increase your writing skills knowledge.

Learning never stops. I hope these courses are of help to you on your writing journey.

Bingeing on Books – August Adventures

This month has been incredible, in that I found myself reading more books. I celebrate this kind of stuff. Because it’s easy to get lost in important activities during the day, or in conversations that leave you no time to take time and read a book. I’m grateful for the time to be in a quiet moment getting lost in different worlds, meeting characters and exploring alternate universes.

Here’s a list of books that I couldn’t put down for the month of August:

Children of Blood and Bone
by Tomi Adeyemi

They killed my mother.
They took our magic.
They tried to bury us.

Now we rise.

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy.

I genuinely enjoyed reading this book. In it’s most purest form, this is a story about a young girl, Zelie, who wants to break out of the chains she finds herself living in. I love the adventure, and her courage, her anger and the serious ambition to change the status quo.

Don’t Read The Comments
By Eric Smith

Divya Sharma is a queen. Or she is when she’s playing Reclaim the Sun, the year’s hottest online game. Divya—better known as popular streaming gamer D1V—regularly leads her #AngstArmada on quests through the game’s vast and gorgeous virtual universe. But for Divya, this is more than just a game. Out in the real world, she’s trading her rising-star status for sponsorships to help her struggling single mom pay the rent.

Gaming is basically Aaron Jericho’s entire life. Much to his mother’s frustration, Aaron has zero interest in becoming a doctor like her, and spends his free time writing games for a local developer. At least he can escape into Reclaim the Sun—and with a trillion worlds to explore, disappearing should be easy. But to his surprise, he somehow ends up on the same remote planet as celebrity gamer D1V.

At home, Divya and Aaron grapple with their problems alone, but in the game, they have each other to face infinite new worlds…and the growing legion of trolls populating them. Soon the virtual harassment seeps into reality when a group called the Vox Populi begin launching real-world doxxing campaigns, threatening Aaron’s dreams and Divya’s actual life. The online trolls think they can drive her out of the game, but everything and everyone Divya cares about is on the line…

And she isn’t going down without a fight.

Son of the Morning
by Linda Howard

Grace St. John, a scholar, unwittingly discovers the Knights of Templar’s secret treasure. Suddenly, her life is upturned when she spies her boss murdering her husband and brother. With no reason to live, except to extract vengeance, Grace becomes a fugitive of the law as she attempts to find an explanation for this horrible act.
Grace simultaneously translates 14th century medieval documents written by Black Niall. This embittered knight reaches into Grace’s subconscious and the two begin to share dreams 700 years apart. A scholar specializing in ancient manuscripts, Grace St. John never imagined that a cache of fragile, old documents she discovered was the missing link to a lost Celtic treasure. But as soon as she deciphers the intriguing legend of the Knights of the Templar — long fabled to hold the key to unlimited power — Grace becomes the target of a ruthless killer bent on abusing the coveted force.
Determined to stop him, Grace needs the help of a celebrated warrior bound by duty to uphold the Templar’s secret for all eternity. But to find him — and to save herself — she must go back in time.

Summoning the magic of an arcane ritual, Grace steps back to the barren hills of 14th-century Scotland, enduring the perils of an untamed land to confront Black Niall, a fierce man of dark fury and raw, unbridled desire. Driven by a mix of fear and passion, Grace enlists this brazen knight to join her in a modern-day search for a killer.
In their quest to protect a timeless secret, they uncover a love for all time — and a deadly duel of honor that risks everything they have.

This one is a reread. I always find new things to enjoy in this book, and I love it. Plus I love the payphone vibes. Can’t believe payphones are now old world!

I hope you get a chance to check these books out and enjoy them as much as I did. Have a lovely August month!

4 Ideas on what to do with your completed manuscript in Kenya

Have you completed your Manuscript and are wondering what to do?

You have finally finished writing your manuscript, be it Fiction or Non-Fiction, and you have saved your work on your laptop or in the cloud.  You’re asking, ‘What do I do now?

Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

First, Congratulations on finishing your writing project, a finished manuscript is cause for celebration.  I mean it.  Celebrate that moment of completion, because it takes a lot of time to get to that last full stop.

Now, let’s get to work.

Idea 1: The Intensive Editing Process

I hate to say it but you need to consider this.  Be very honest with your finished work and answer this question.  Is your Manuscript a First Draft/Rough Draft?  Is it a shell of an idea you have about your book?  I’m asking, is it work you think still needs more effort?

– The Editing Process is intensive and it transforms your first draft into a worthy book.  There is no way around it because you’re not writing this manuscript for you, but for readers you hope will engage, love and understand your work.  Your thoughts or your story must be cohesive and understandable.  Getting to this moment of perfection takes a few rewrites.

The process might go like this.  When you finish writing a manuscript, you print it out and give it a few days before you read it.  When you do pick that manuscript, read it holding a pen and make notes on a notepad.  Find scenes that feel incomplete.  Find sentences that read wrong.  Fix typos and spelling mistakes.  Discover insane plot holes that need reworking and rewriting.  This happens before you let anyone else read your work.  Once you have gotten your story to where you feel you have done the most editing you can yourself, let someone else read it.  Why?  You can’t see the flaws anymore.  You’re too close. 

Photo by Bich Tran on Pexels.com

Beta readers always have notes for you.  Discuss them and more changes will likely happen in the manuscript.  Try to make this a fast process instead of making it endless.  Endlessness sends you into limbo world.  You keep working on the same manuscript over and over and it never ends.  If you have a good beta reader, you’re able to create deadlines that you both meet leading to a state of completion.

Any editor you reach out to gets the fourth or fifth edition of the manuscript.  Be aware that the editor will have a few changes for you too.  I’m saying this with all my love.  Editor Feedback is a blessing to you.  Rant and rave if you must, but get back in there and refocus your attention.

Look at the suggestions given from the perspective of your editor, the reader, and try to see what you can take from that feedback.  It’s a painful process.  You rewrite entire chapters or lose them, as in cut them out.  You gotta keep track of these changes.  It hurts when you lose changes that you really needed.  I’ve cried tears over this.  Anyway, your editor gets you to that nirvana that is the Last Draft, the draft to release out to the world.

Is this Intensive Editing Process important?

You’re thinking, ‘I’ve written and completed a manuscript.  Other than spelling typos and a few sentences that sound off, I think I have this, no need for rewrites and second-looks.  Let’s just sell this thing.

Great! Confidence is important in all undertakings.  If you don’t have confidence, well, why start in the first place, right?

Still, take a moment to really ask yourself, ‘What is the goal of you writing this manuscript?’

  1. Is it to gain readers?  Is it for crazy sales? 
  2. Is it for fun? Is it just a phase?
  3. Do you just want to tell people you write?
  4. Are you educating people in an industry?  Do you want to entertain?
  5. Is it for mad fame and culture-changing insight?
  6. Is it for an important cause?  Are you creating a fiction masterpiece?

If you answered 1, 4, 5, 6, then you need the intensive editing process to get your work into sparkling condition.  You have competition and you need to get ahead of the other millions of writers who want the very same things.  Editing gets you there.  It makes your work stand out.

You know your readers measure your manuscript’s worth in reviews and sales.  You want to give them the best, so you work at it until you’re satisfied with the last edition.

There is nothing wrong with answering 2 and/or 3.  Still, even at this stage, you should work to polish your work, and then create a platform that is your very own real estate.  Have a place to share your work and direct people to see and read your work.  Stages 2 and 3 launch you into the next step.  They help you grow an audience and give you the courage and confidence to go all in.

Selling your Completed Manuscript

Self-Publishing Tidbits:  Have stories you create for sharing everywhere: on your blog, on social media, on looseleaf notebooks for your close people to read.  Have stories you list for sale.  Spend money on the stories you list for sale: on editors and book cover art.  Get a website and allocate a marketing budget.  You may also have stories you submit to Traditional Publishers in the hope of getting them published. (Don’t publish submissions elsewhere, please.)  All these stories should have one thing in common.  Make sure they are presentable in all their available forms.  They are your brand and represent your body of work.

Ideas 2 & 3: Literary Agents and Traditional Publishers

Question: My Manuscript is ready. I’m in Kenya, or East Africa, and I’m wondering, what do I do next?  Do I choose a traditional publisher, or should I start thinking of self-publishing? It all depends on your goals.

The ultimate goal for any writer is to publish their work on a grand scale with worldwide publishing.  This means getting your book published by the Big Five Publishers around the world.  You need a Literary Agent to get to this level.  Literary Agents are a great asset.  Their skill in negotiation will get you to your goals, as they work for your best interests.

Getting a Literary Agent requires hard work on your part in terms of editing your manuscript.  You then need to write queries and submit them to Literary Agents who represent writers in our East Africa region.  Please note, there is a delicate dance between finding Legitimate Literary Agents and meeting the Right Literary Agent to represent your work.  I will acknowledge there is a fair amount of networking and searching to get this connection in our region.

Published by Traditional Publishers in Kenya-

  • Publishers in Kenya receive manuscripts from thousands of writers in the region.  Your work is to get yours noticed.  This means, finding an editor who will help you get your manuscript up to level, if you can’t afford one, using all your effort to get to that level.  
  • Do your homework.   Publishing Houses in Kenya each have different types of genres they prefer.  Do your research.  Educate yourself on genres and discover how your work fits in their house.  Reach out to them and take their feedback seriously.
  • When your work is accepted, the publisher will get you to the next step.  Educate yourself on royalties, copyrights and contracts in Kenya.

The Traditional Publishing Route is as intensive as the Editing process.  If this is your chosen route, do not quit in the middle.  Send in your submissions, and if you get rejections, study why and grow from it.  Keep going until you get that yes.

Idea 4: Self-Publishing Route in Kenya

On this route, you take on the challenge of putting out your completed manuscript to the world.

  • The Editing Process – Work to get your editing done at the same level as books churned out by Traditional Publishers.  Make sure your content is cohesive and engaging.  Do not take shortcuts and push out loads of typos.
  • Book Cover Art, Blurbs & Formatting – You’re the publisher now, so once you finish your last edit, you get to jump in and design your book.  These decisions are yours to make and formulate.  Do your research.
  • ISBNs and Copyright – Don’t neglect your legal needs, to protect your hard work and to get your book in the library systems.
  • Digital Platforms & Hard Copy Books – You get to decide what type of medium you want to pursue to sell your book.  You can print a physical book, or publish it as digital content (e-book).  You may choose to use both.
  • Marketing and Getting Reviews – Once your book is ready and available, you start building a marketing network.  Find bookshops that will carry your physical book and websites to advertise your e-books.  Talk about it on social media.  Sensitize your audience on the book’s existence.  Get the word out there, and don’t stop.
  • Write your next book – The journey does not stop at one book.  Keep writing.

Self-publishing is essentially starting your own business.  You product is your book.  Your work is to create a brand, grow an audience or a following for your book, and keep writing.  It does give you the freedom to choose your platforms.  However, it also requires a great deal more effort from the author.

This blog post is courtesy of questions in my email on completed manuscripts and what to do next. What challenges do you face when you think of getting your books published? Thank you for reading my blog.

Church Fairies and Catways – The Little Girl

“Hubert, where are my red heels!” she shrieks out, as she frantically searches for her shoes among her many pairs.

She has a particular set of shoes in mind, matching her newly bought handbag from Duscs wear. She needs to stand out, look good, it mattered to her.

I join in the search, a slight frown on my face, perhaps wondering why these particular shoes meant so much to her.

“Got it,” she shrieks again, and immediately fumbles into the new pair.

Slightly irritated, I reach out for the car keys by the dining table and head for the back door leading to the garage. I start the car engine, close my eyes and rest my head on the Volvo seat’s head rest, waiting.

A few minutes later, Aidleen storms into the car, eye pencil and lipstick in hand.  I hear the front passenger door shut, but I remain still, eyes closed. I am deep in thought.

My wife had changed over the years, tremendously. Sundays had become red carpet occasions ever since her re-union with her long time group of flashy friends from campus days.  The conversations had changed to who has the latest Gucci bag matching with shoes, wearing the latest fashion trend, and so on.

Hubert was born into a conservative catholic family, where church Sundays were more of worship days than fashion show offs, where dress codes really didn’t matter, or the kind of car you owned didn’t raise an eyebrow when you drove into the church compound.

The local community knew each other by their last names. What mattered was the genuineness of your worship, what was in your heart, how you spoke to God one on one, how you saw people for who, and not what, they were. For all we know, God looks into the heart, not into your Ferrari, MLG Mercedes or two thousand dollar custom-made Armani designer suit.

He really believed that, deep down.

“Hubert! Hubert! Can we go please?  We’ll be late, honey. Why didn’t you wear the blue suit I had taken out for you? Babe, you need to look good.”

He leans forward and kisses her forehead, and whispers, “I’m good”.

He had worn a plain t-shirt embroidered in white and blue stitches, and faded khaki pants to match his oxford brown leather shoes.

“I look alright,” he whispers to himself, as he as he stepped on the accelerator and listened to the soft humming of the powerful Volvo engine as it came to life.

He loved the engine’s sound, how the machine picked up with ease, gliding past other cars on the highway with effortless power for such a big car.

“Hubert, let’s go!”

This time there was a heightened sense of impatience in her tone.

He obliged, and finally straightened his back.  He changed gears, pressed the accelerator and eased into the driveway leading to the gate.  The sun was hot, perhaps too hot for that time of day. He put on the air conditioner, it was instant, and the cold air felt refreshing to the skin.

The church usher stood at the gate entrance in bright blue African attire, clean-shaven and neatly dressed, patches of sweat clearly visible under his armpits, as he brilliantly tried to squeeze in as many cars as he could into the small parking area. Our turn came, and we were ushered into a small space beneath a leafy small tree right next to the entrance. It was a good spot, easily accessible and under a shade.

Aidleen was busy waving frantically at her friends as I parked. I couldn’t help notice the parking lot looked like an exotic car exhibition, a paradise for car lovers, fit to pass for a diplomatic convention of some sorts.

Melany was the first to catch up, looking very exquisite in a dark blue Bavaria suit with a matching handbag and shoes. Mike, the husband, was beside her, proudly clutching his newly bought iPhone 8 masterpiece, and we exchanged niceties over hugs and kisses.  The ladies had already began making their way to the church entrance, greeting acquaintances and friends along the way.  Catching up on the past week with church members.  I turned to lock the car, and then she caught my eye.

Our eyes locked in what might have seemed like eternity.

She just stared, a beautiful little girl in a pale-white wrinkled dress that seemed too big for her, dark short hair and a pair of worn out slip-ons for shoes. Despite the creases and over-sized attire, she looked very neat, perhaps trying to fit in, as much as she could in a world she knew very little about.

She stood beside the entrance gate, motionless, hands clutched together in front of her. She smiled, but her eyes told a different story, one of sadness and despair. Eyes never lie. I slowly walked towards her, trying to smile as reassuringly as I could, vaguely acknowledging greetings from incoming congregation members.

My gaze locked on the little girl.  The fixation growing the closer I got to her.

“Hello.  How are you?” I asked.  “Are you okay?”

She nodded, hands still clutched in front of her. She looked frail and weak, perhaps saddened by how life’s cruelty did not discriminate against age. Her cheekbones stood out, almost piercing the thin skin under which they held so tightly. Shoulders back, she had a confident pose, and despite her pale skin, her beauty still stood out.

She looked frail and weak, perhaps saddened by how life’s cruelty did not discriminate against age

Gilbert Kariuki

Unconsciously, I held out my hand to her, as gently as I could. She did not hesitate. She put her hand on mine, clutching it tightly, as if never to let go. I didn’t want her to let go. There was something special about the little girl.  I didn’t know what it was, but it was special.

We walked hand in hand towards the church entrance, and sat beside Melanie and the husband.

Church service had begun, and though the sermon was about giving unto others as the Lord had blessed, I wasn’t paying much attention. My mind wandered to the little girl beside me, hand still holding tightly to mine.

“Who is she? Why was she standing all alone by the gate? Where were her parents?”

I was lost in thought, as the priest’s voice became fainter and fainter….

~~~~

Fifteen years later, I sit in the front row of a dignitary-packed conference room.  I listen to a well-dressed, young lady telling the extraordinary story of her journey to her current status.  She is the youngest leader in the history of a global humanitarian organization that focuses on Children Rights and Welfare.

Her story is captivating, inspiring, emotional, exuding faith and persistence all through. Against all odds, she made something of herself. Against all odds, she triumphed over life! Against all odds, that beautiful little girl in a pale-white wrinkled dress that seemed too big for her, short hair and a pair of worn out slip-ons for shoes, was now a global symbol of what it takes to achieve dreams.

All it took was a ‘hello’, and stretching of a hand.  I took her in and cared for her as my own. Our eyes locked, as they did fifteen years ago.

She smiled, and this time her eyes told a different story, one of appreciation and love. She ended her life story with a soft ‘thank you’, amid a roaring standing ovation from the crowd. Our eyes still locked, tears streaming down both our faces, she came down the podium.  We hugged and just like fifteen years ago, at the small church compound, she put her hand in mine, and clutched it tight, as if never to let go.

I never did let go – it’s been fifteen years, and it all began with a stretched hand to a beautiful little girl in a pale white wrinkled dress.

In life, we come across people on our paths whose destinies are intertwined. A simple stretch of a hand can mean a lifetime difference. As we are blessed and cursed in different capacities, so do we have a spiritual duty to reach out to others and try to correct the imbalance this world serves humanity!

Story by Gilbert Kariuki
Email: maheniagk@gmail.com


I hope you enjoyed this story feature today. Nairobi is cold this month, stay warm. – Elly.

Happy and Grateful for having a Reading Culture

Happy New Year! 2020 is currently very beautiful. My Sunday is full of perfect sun, and birds chirping on the trees around our compound. Peaceful perfection.

This post is a gratitude post. I was on Goodreads deciding on my 2020 reading challenge number, and got to check out last year’s accomplishment. It suddenly occurred to me that I ought to be very grateful to my parents. Very grateful because they gave me the gift of nurturing a reading culture.

It’s a small action, really, but also the most powerful gift ever. My dad had a serious obsession with science fiction. He gave me my first Arthur C. Clarke books, (Rendezvous with Rama), and my mom has a thing for literature, she had a stash of African plays, and a box full of reader’s digest romance books. When I was done reading theirs, they bought me fiction books, one every month, and made sure I learned how to borrow books from my school’s library. The biggest challenge was taking care of that book and returning it in good condition. Better yet, learning how to keep books they bought so that my sister and brother could read them too. These small lessons have turned into the biggest blessings now.

I am grateful for my parents who taught me how to be a collector of books.

The Goodreads reading challenge is a great way to track books on the shelf at home, or in your virtual library. That’s a thing now by the way. My kindle has an endless list now. This year, I plan on 120 books, as opposed to the 200 from last year. I’m anticipating a busy 2020 in terms of actual activities on my time, so the number has reduced. I don’t know why it’s so exciting to see Goodreads make a report and list of books I read through the year. It makes me want to have a more impressive review for this year.

I’ll tell you that real world obligations can take over and suddenly you’re in March and haven’t started the reading challenge at all. I’ve found downloading a book every week on my kindle app helps me keep track. Read during a commute, when waiting for someone, or instead of scrolling endlessly on social media.

My first book this year is going to be finishing Everything is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo.

What’s yours?

I wish you a wonderful 2020!

Nanowrimo and Picture Perfect

November is here! You know that means NaNoWriMo! Have you started writing your novel for the month yet? The NaNoWriMo: Kenya Region has an exciting whatsapp group, that keeps you going even on the days you want to stop. If interested, join the daily writing sprints. Here is the link to the NaNoWriMo whatsapp group. Get in and write your 50,000 words this month.

My project this year is called Kipepeo. I hope to get about 50K words of it done. It’s Nov 5th, I’m at 6K. 44k to go!

Picture Perfect

More News! Picture Perfect finally has a cover and a completion schedule which is this Month (November 30th). I’ve had a long journey with this story, and you’ll find a chunk of it on this site. I’m excited to finally finish this and get it out there on e-book platforms. Please look forward to it. Here is the cover!

November is exciting!

Okada Books – Save My Heart

This week has been super inspiring! I get excited when I hear from readers, so it has been awesome to get emails on Save My Heart. I burn with excitement. Anyway, a bit of news, I’ve published my books on Nigeria’s Okada Books. It’s an e-book platform with a very exciting audience. This week, I was super excited to discover my book on the trending list! I’m so bragging about that, by the way, I totally am! Appreciating the little awesome things.

About Okada Books

OkadaBooks is Africa’s leading digital content provider of local and original books.

Okada Books

They are a great option to publish e-books, and are similiar to Smashwords, or Amazon’s KDP, with an African audience. Here are their FAQs on publishing:

It’s a great option if you’re trying to get your work out to an audience.

Keep Writing! And, download my book, Save My Heart if you haven’t read it yet over at Okada.