Life on the Fast Track – 21

Chapter 21 – This is what the future looks like

Jasmine wanted to fight Danny.  She wanted to stay angry at Danny.  Angry at him for making her live through a sleepless night worrying the worst had happened.  Yet, seeing his face, his eyes filled with sincere worry, all she could think was, ‘thank goodness he wasn’t hurt.

Jasmine shifted her gaze to the silly apron he still wore.  It was pink, with frills on the side.  She liked sticking her hands in the pockets while she cooked.  Now, she would always remember how funny it looked on Danny.

“Are you going to say anything?” Danny asked, not moving away.

“I lived through a nightmare last night,” Jasmine said, still staring at the apron.  “Every time I close my eyes, all I see is you spinning out and you not making it.  I needed you to stay with me, Danny.  I needed to make sure you were fine, but you pushed me to Jimmy and drove off.”

“I needed to do that,” Danny insisted.  “It was the only way to catch that bastard.  Which we did, and the trouble is gone now.  I finished it.”

Jasmine shook her head.

“So, now what?  Should I be happy you almost got yourself hurt?  Oh, thank God he caught the culprit. What if something happened during the process?  I can’t live like that.  Don’t make me lose you.  I don’t want to—”

Danny pulled her into a tight hug.

kay-653602-unsplash
Two peas in a pod

 

“I’m not reckless.  I was safe, and as long as you were with Jimmy, I knew you were safe too.”

“You’re missing the point.”

“Don’t ask me to stop racing.”

Jasmine closed her eyes pressing her forehead into his shoulder.

“I’m not asking you to stop.  I’m asking you to think about the fact that you and I, we—

“We what?” Danny asked when she stopped.

Jasmine bit her lip, then let out a soft sigh.

“We’re like two peas in a pod, Danny.  Can you think about my heart too?  I don’t want to see you hurting.  I don’t want you to catch trouble.  I—I wouldn’t survive it if something happened to you.  So, promise me you’ll be extra careful.”

Danny tightened his arms around her, kneeling on the floor as he pulled her even closer.

“I promise, Jasmine.  Your heart is the most important thing to me.  You have to know that by now.”

Jasmine smiled, thinking she must have saved a village in the distant past.  Danny seemed to be hers when she had thought he would never be.  She wrapped her arms around him, as the fear that had bothered her all night dissipated.  It always did, when he felt so alive in her arms.  She hoped it would always be so.

They stayed holding each other until the door opened to admit Wanja.  Danny took his time letting go, even with Jasmine pushing him off her gaze on her mother.

“I figured I would have to come in here,” Wanja said, her chuckle startling Jasmine.  “Jazz, food is ready.  Come on.”

Wanja left them and Jasmine sat staring at the open door in surprise.  She had expected yells, and a few curses at Danny.  Danny took her right hand and pulled her up.  She followed him out of her bedroom to the little dining room off the kitchen.

Lunch was eaten in a cloud of excitement.  Jasmine listened as her brother and sister asked Danny too many questions.  He answered each one with patience, and interest.  He engaged her mother with stories of his childhood, his father’s restaurant, Terry’s business, his garage.  In a sense, it was the perfect family lunch.

Her strange apprehension about her mother disproving of Danny died away with each minute, each laugh, each giggle, and she wondered why she had worried so much.

Jasmine took her glass of orange juice from the table, sipping juice, her gaze resting on Daryl.  She thought about Daryl and their father.  The man who saw fault when his kids refused to follow the line and wondered how she was ever going to introduce Danny to him.  She frowned.

More importantly, what were they going to do about Daryl?

“Jazz?”

Jenny touched her left shoulder and she looked up to find everyone staring at her.

“Danny wants to take us to visit his garage,” Daryl said, his excitement tangible.  “Do you mind if we go?”

Jasmine looked at Danny and smiled when he winked at her.

“You can go,” she said, smiling at her brother.  “Don’t cause trouble though.”

Danny chuckled as both Daryl and Jenny got up heading outside to his car.

“I should help clean up,” Danny said, waving at the messy table.

“Don’t worry about it.” Jasmine pushed her chair back and stood.  “You helped cook.  I’ll clean up.”

Jasmine took plates to the kitchen, and wasn’t surprised when Danny followed her.

“I’ll see you later?” Danny asked, stealing a quick kiss, making sure Wanja didn’t see him.

“Yeah, sure.  I’ll be home.”

Jasmine swatted his hand away when he pinched her waist.  She watched him hurry back to the dining table.

“Mamma Jazz, I’ll bring Daryl and Jenny home.  Thank you so much for lunch.”

“It was nice to meet you, Danny,” Wanja said.  “I hope this is not the last time we’ll see each other.”

“Definitely not,” Danny said, moving to hug her.  “I’ll come visit you with Jasmine next time.”

Wanja chuckled and Jasmine came back to the table to see Wanja watch Danny leave.

“He’s bold, that one.”  Wanja noted when Danny was gone.  “So, you two are serious?”

Jasmine wiped the table mats, arranging them neatly.

“Do you approve?”

“He’s a good man.  I know his father, and Terry is like your sister.  She slept over our house so much, she’s like a daughter to me.”

Wanja patted the empty seat next to her.

“Jazz, sit.”

Jasmine placed the cloth she held on the table and moved to sit next to her mother.

Wanja took her hand, and rubbed her fingers gently.

“I’m no expert on love.” Wanja gave her a rueful smile.  “So, I won’t tell you Danny is right, or he is wrong for you.  All I can say is make the right choice for you. Your heart knows what it wants.  That’s what matters most in this very long life.”

“Mum.”

Wanja brought her hand up to stroke Jasmine’s right cheek.

“You were always the strongest of my kids.  I don’t think you get it from me, Jazz.  I think you get it from your father.”

“He won’t approve of Danny.”

Jasmine shook her head, sure she was right.

“He is set in his ways,” Wanja said with a sigh.  “But you prove him wrong on a constant basis.  So, he’ll accept Danny, in time.”

Jasmine squeezed her mother’s hand and stood up.

“Speaking of which, before he approves or disproves of my boyfriend, why don’t we talk about Daryl.”

“Jazz.”

“Military?  Mum, seriously?  Daryl doesn’t want that.” Jasmine shook her head.  “You’ve always known he loves engineering.  Why won’t you fight for him?”

“It’s not that easy.”

Jasmine picked up the mats she had arranged.

“Fine, I’ll help you make it easy.  Daddy is home, right?  Let’s go see him.”

“Jazz—

“We have to try, Mum.  Otherwise, Daryl won’t forgive us when he ends up marching for the country.  And I’m not saying there is anything wrong with joining the military.  I just think a guy should do what he wants.  If Daryl wants to work in engineering, he should.  Who knows what he’ll end up building?”

Wanja wiped a hand down her face, and shook her head.

“You’re probably the only person who can stand up to Daddy with that statement.”

Jasmine grinned and hurried into the kitchen to dump the mats in their drawer.

“Then let’s do it today.  I’ll go get my sweater.  We should go before Danny finishes with Jenny and Daryl.  I don’t want them anywhere near the explosion when it happens.”

***

Thank you for reading…to be continued ^_^

←Previous Track

Life on the Fast Track – 20

I Accept you…and all your flaws, but we must understand each other

Jasmine drove up to her house, slowing down when she saw Danny’s car parked next to her mother’s jeep.  She had known he would come.  She had not anticipated that he would find her mother.  She sighed and parked behind his car.

Getting her shopping from the backseat, she hurried to the front door, a little panicked.  Her mother was an interrogator.  She could make the worst criminal squirm under her gaze.  Jasmine was sure she had learned it from being a military wife.  Their dad was no walk in the park.

Danny was in double trouble today.

Unlocking the door, Jasmine walked into her house and stopped when the scent of cooking hit her fast.  Her family was in the kitchen, she stopped at the kitchen entrance to stare at the scene.  Danny wore an apron, and was hard at work chopping carrots into thin strips.  He was an expert at it too.

“Jazz, I thought the supermarket swallowed you up.  I hope you bought nyanya?” Wanja said, looking at her from her position at the kitchen counter. (Tomatoes)

Jasmine lifted up the bag with vegetables, placing it on the counter.  Jenny took the rest from her, and they got to work putting them away.

“Too many people in the kitchen,” Wanja said, when Jenny bumped into her.  “If you’re my kid, get out of here, go entertain yourself.”

Jenny and Daryl hurried out.  Jasmine hesitated, her gaze on Danny.  He sent a smile her way and continued chopping, whistling a happy tune.

Wanja placed gentle hands on her shoulders and led her out of the kitchen.

In the living room, her brother sprawled on the couch and turned on television.  He tuned to Netflix and got comfortable.  Jasmine mentally thanked her landlord for hooking her up with cheap Wi-Fi from Jamii.

Jenny grabbed Jasmine’s hand and led her to her bedroom, closing the door.

“Talk,” Jenny said, perching on her bed, folding her legs under her in anticipation.

Before Jasmine could start, Jenny broke into a tirade.

“You and Danny…when did you get together?  Why didn’t you tell me?  You have been holding out on me.  How is that fair when I’m your sister?  Terry knows, doesn’t she?  You treat her more like a sister, than you do me.  That is so not fair.  Gosh, he’s so hot.  Why is he so hot?”

“Are you done?” Jasmine asked, sitting on the bed beside Jenny.

She let out a sigh, unable to stop thinking about last night.  The sight of Danny’s car spinning out of a high speed race ran in a loop in her head.  Round and round, when she closed her eyes to sleep, all she saw was him spinning out, and not making it.

“Jazz?” Jenny squeezed her right hand, pulling her away from her thoughts.

Jasmine met Jenny’s gaze and smiled.

“You’re my favorite little sister.  I didn’t tell you because we haven’t seen each other.  Plus, I wasn’t sure about him.”

“And now you’re sure?”

Jasmine sighed.

“We have a few things to work out, but yes.”

“Oh yes!” Jenny jumped off the bed and stood watching her.  “This is so awesome.  Danny is those guys you wanna brag about.  Can I call him when I need a ride?  Coz, you know that happens sometimes.”

“Jenny.”

“Come on, Jazz, please.”

“I’ll run it by him first,” Jasmine said, shaking her head.

“It’s so cool to have an older brother now,” Jenny clapped.  “You have done well, sister.  The elders will be happy.”

“What are you the village seer?” Jasmine laughed.  “Gosh, Dad will have a conniption when they meet.  He is so not open minded.”

Jenny seemed to deflate.

“I suppose I should celebrate after they meet.  Danny might want to run.”

“Way to support,” Jasmine scowled at her little sister.

“It’s the truth.”  Jenny sat on the bed.  “You know Dad talked to Daryl a few days ago, about the future.  Daryl was given three options: military, doctoring or business courses.”

Ngai,” Jasmine shook her head.  “He doesn’t change the choices.  You’re the only one who did the right thing and did accounting.  He knows Daryl loves mechanics, even engineering would make sense.  Military?”

“Daryl walked out.  He went to stay over at Aunt Monica’s,” Jenny said.  “He came home this morning.”

“And Mom?”

Jenny shrugged, smoothing her hand over the bed spread.

“Since you, she hasn’t tried to fight for the rest of us.”

“That’s not true,” Jazz said, shocked.  “Jenny, you said you wanted to do accounting.”

“It was the easiest choice that didn’t involve gory detail,” Jenny shrugged.  “You know Mimo, she’s a nurse.  She hates it, but it’s the only thing her parents wanted to pay for.  So—, at least I had two more choices.  I’m not sad about it, Jazz.”

“Gosh, Jenny.”

“Daryl will need your help,” Jenny said, meeting her gaze.  “You’re strong.  You can stand up to Daddy.  Help Daryl do what he wants.”

Jasmine took in a deep breath, and gave her sister a nod.  She pulled Jenny into a tight hug, and held her.

“You should have told me what you wanted,” Jasmine murmured into her sister’s hair.  “I would have fought for you.”

“I didn’t know what I wanted,” Jenny said into her shoulder.  “Not like Daryl does.”

Jasmine rubbed Jenny’s back and brushed her sister’s cheek when Jenny pulled back.

“I love you, kiddo,” Jasmine said, smoothing Jenny’s hair.  “Terry and I will induct you into the sister group on your next day off.  Come sleep over, sawa?” (okay)

Jenny giggled.

“Will Danny be there?”

“Sisters first, then we can have Danny take us out later,” Jasmine said, falling back on the bed.

Besides, she needed to work things out with Danny first.  They had a boat load of things to talk about.  One of them being, not racing off into danger when she begged him not to.

***

“What kind of work do you do?” Wanja asked.

Danny finished cutting carrots and put them in a bowl.  Taking a piece, he popped it into his mouth and faced Jasmine’s mother.

“I’m a mechanic,” Danny said.  “I work on cars, fixing them, restoring them, servicing.”

Wanja chuckled.  She lit the gas cooker and placed a frying pan on the fire, adding oil in one elegant move.

“You’re trying to shock me.”  Wanja flashed a smile at him.  “It won’t work, Danny boy.”

Danny grinned and leaned on the counter watching Wanja stir-fry the vegetables they cut up.

“Mum, I love Jasmine.” Danny stated.  “She means the world to me.”

Wanja chuckled and adjusted the fire on the stove.  She opened the cupboard above the gas cooker to get spices.  Danny watched her put black pepper, ginger and a mix of spices Danny couldn’t name.  The extent of his cooking skills included chopping, peeling, and grinding.  Came from working at his father’s restaurant when the place was short staffed.

Wanja mixed the vegetables, covering them with a lid to simmer.  She wiped her hands on a clean cloth and turned to face him.

“You’re Teresa’s big brother,” Wanja said, leaning on the counter across him.  “I know your father.  My husband and I love his restaurant.  We go there for celebrations.  It’s a great place.”

Danny held Wanja’s gaze.

“You have some steel in you, meeting me in my daughter’s house.”  Wanja narrowed her gaze.  “You’ve pissed her off.  I found her upset.  You want to fix it?”

Danny nodded.

“What did you do?”

“Disappointed her,” Danny said.

“Yes, men disappoint women,” Wanja said, pushing off the counter to check the vegetables she was cooking.  She took a spoon from a plate next to Danny and scooped some soup to taste.  Shaking her head, she added salt and winked at him.

“Women disappoint men too,” she said.

Danny smiled.

“Mama Jazz, are you going to say no to me dating your daughter?”

Wanja covered the food and lowered the heat.

“Jasmine is the most head strong woman I’ve ever met,” Wanja said.  “When she wanted to move out of the house, she simply packed her stuff, found this house and moved.  She is her father’s daughter.  I can’t stop her from doing anything.  However, the kitchen knife you used to chop vegetables is also a weapon, Danny boy.  You hurt her and I’ll show you how that works.”

Danny shifted, straightening up.  Wanja’s gaze scared him more than Anderson ever could.  He could not look away.  For a full minute, they stood staring at each other, until he folded and lowered his gaze.

Wanja laughed and stepped up to pat his shoulder.

“We have time, Danny, to get to know each other.  Meanwhile, Jazz is hiding in her room, avoiding you.  We came to visit her.  She won’t come out as long as you stay.  If you can talk to her, and get her out here, I’ll be happy.”

“Really?”

“I’ll give you ten minutes to solve it,” Wanja said, glancing at her watch.  “Fix it as fast as you can.”

Danny grinned, and left the kitchen quickly.  He hurried to Jasmine’s room.

***

Jasmine sat up when a soft knock came on the door.  Jenny opened it, and smiled wide when she saw Danny.

Sasa,” Jenny grinned.  “Mathe amekupatia time?” (Hi, Mum gave you time?)

Danny nodded and lifted his hands indicating ten minutes.

“Don’t go over,” Jenny advised, stepping past Danny into the hallway.  “She’ll come get you and it won’t be pretty.”

Danny shuddered and entered the bedroom, watching Jenny close the door.

Jasmine remained sitting at the foot of the bed.  Refusing to move, even when Danny came to stand in front of her.

“You won’t look at me?”

“You should have gone home to sleep,” Jasmine said.  “I imagine almost crashing and dying would exhaust a man.  You don’t look like you’ve slept.  Go home, Danny.”

Danny crouched before her, so that she had no choice but to meet his dark gaze.

“There you are,” Danny said, holding her gaze, placing his hands on the bed on each side of her.  “I’m sorry, Jasmine.”

“Danny.”

“I’m sorry I left you alone last night.”

***

 Thank you for reading…To be Continued ^_^!

←Previous Track

 

Tips on Promoting Self-Published Books in Kenya

Reader Question: What self-promotion tips result in high sales?

I got this question on my blog, and it had me thinking, of course.  When I first started writing, I felt a little bit a lot like a fish out of water.  Gasping for air, with no real idea on what to do next.  I know what it’s like to feel as though you have this need to keep writing, but have no real solid foundation to make it a workable financial solution for

tom-holmes-556800-unsplash
Photo by Tom Holmes 

your life. In short, this question filled my head on a constant when I started.

Two things to remember :-

  1. Yes, when you start, you will need to find other means to fund your life until your book turns out sales that satisfy you.  If you haven’t already.
  2. Yes, you will need to invest in your book to make it a success, and a product worth purchasing.

You cannot escape these two things.  Once you have understood that, and accepted it, now we can discuss self-promotion and sales.  I’ll explore three options today, and post the rest next week.  I’ve been on a writing binge, and want to post fiction the rest of this week…hehehe.

Tips on Self-promotion that will lead to High Sales!

  1. Great Content – I stress this every time I write about self-publishing.  Take the time to evaluate your work.  Discover your strengths, your weaknesses, your opportunities, and your threats.  Yep (SWOT) coming at you.
    1. Did you choose a topic you know?  A topic you love and are passionate about?  Do you sound convincing?  Can the reader trust you when they read your book?  Are they going to fall in at the first page, and not regret getting straight to the last page? If you answered yes to all of these questions, hey, you’re working on your strengths.  If not, find a way to do just that.
    2. Your weaknesses are found by your editor, your first fan, the person who reads your work and makes suggestions.  Listen to them, and find a solution.
    3. Opportunities are found where you work, who you spend time with, family and friends.  For example,  my sister writes recipe books, and has written on her journey in the baking industry.  Her opportunities come when she meets those who want to join the baking industry and those already in the industry and would love to try out new recipes.  If you are writing fiction, your friends, family, school mates, and those around you are your first readers.  Exploit them to the fullest.  Don’t be shy and grow a thick skin for when you face rejection.  Shake it off, and keep moving forward.
    4. Threats are your competition.  Whatever book you have written, or are thinking of writing, there is an author three steps ahead of you.  Search them out, seek them out, read what they have done, learn from it, but don’t plagiarize. ^_^  What you learn, use it to improve your own work.
    5. In one bundle, make sure you are treating your content like a high quality product.  You want to provide your readers with the best content possible.  Polish it, edit it, get a great cover and blurb, enough to entice readers at first glance.
  2. Build a Strong Platform – To be truthful, this is a challenge. I  won’t lie and say it is easy to build a place where you have people running to read your blog, facebook page, twitter, instagram, or your book sitting on the bookshelf in the shop on the first day.  It takes work. Hard, daily work.  Some days are great, others not.  The key is not to stop.  Now that I’ve said that, let’s get into it.
    1. Platforms are a central place to find your work, and all about your work, and you, the author.  I chose a blog because it was easiest for me.  I love writing and sharing ideas.  I don’t mind sharing fiction, so most of my stories can easily be found on this blog.  The readers I’ve gained have found me through this blog, which then shares my content to my social accounts: Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.  This blog is my strongest platform.  You can have a different platform.  Just have one place your readers can get to know you and your work.  Here are a few examples of writers with similar platforms. Peter Nena, Dilman Dila, there are more, but these two remain constant favorites for me.
    2. You are your marketer.  Share your work with people you meet in person, in groups you join.  Let people know you are writing, where to find your work, and how to access it.  I’ve said before, I prefer Smashwords as they are really great at getting your work in more online bookshops, as opposed to Amazon’s exclusivity.  You can also choose to explore Kenyan online bookstores like Magunga.com.  Connect with brick and mortar bookstores and see if they will carry your book, or even bookmarks directing people to your site.  Run an ad on Facebook/Instagram, see how many people get to know about your work. Remember that you are the PR team, and share your work constantly.  Don’t be discouraged if one idea doesn’t work out, get back to the drawing board and explore another.
  3.  Converting to High Sales – The first two parts of this list build a community around your work.   Your goal is to make this community love your work, so much, that when you publish your next book, they won’t mind paying for it. Your main job is to grow this community, nurture it, and they will, in turn, support your work in ways that will truly surprise you.  This is why you need more than one book, more than one story, more than one of all that you do, to build readership.

Writing Tips Blog GraphicAs with every plan, there are small goals in between the growth process.  Some of those are:

  1. Get readers to review your work if you have already published.  Reviews are a great way to get people to know that your work is worth a look.  I bet before you buy a book on Amazon, nook, etc, you check out reviews to see if it’s popular.
  2. Join communities that focus on your chosen topic.  Fiction writers choose genre communities to find readers.  Non-fiction writers choose their industry to find readers.
  3. Social media is a great place to start the conversation.  Tweet it, gram it, facebook it, page it, if you have the camera, make videos and youtube it. 
  4. Start a podcast, and build a following. 
  5. Don’t keep quiet, and talk about it to friends, make small business cards to share when you go to meetups. The amount of chamas (groups) people join in Kenya come on…share your cards with everyone there.  They will check it out for curiosity out of the five curious, you will get two who will turn into fans.  Fans buy books.  Just think, If no one knows, how can you sell?
  6. Going back to the start, make sure you have your work edited write right.  Your readers will love it if they don’t have to work at reading it.

I hope this is helpful to you.  If you have written a book, and self-published it, don’t hesitate to share it in the comments below.  I love sharing stuff…great place to start right?

Happy May Day!

 

 

 

How to Self-Publish your Books in Kenya

Self-publishing might seem like an uphill battle, but with  experience, it gets easier tothere is no reason to stay unpublished get into on this sunny part of the world.  There is no reason not to write.  A few years ago, the only way to access your money after you sold e-books and your money was in your Paypal account was through a bank.  It took eight days for it to process. Such a long time.  Well, that’s changed now, thanks to Safaricom’s Mpesa.  So, I thought I should post this little how-to today, coz I’m excited about it.

So, Simple how-to self-publish your e-book/book in Kenya:

  1. Write your book. – I advocate fiction books because that is what I primarily publish, but this works for non-fiction books too.  Your book must be entertaining, engaging, and in the case of non-fiction, informative.  Don’t cut corners.  Find an editor, pay them, do the work and get your book to perfection.
  2. Design your cover  – Great Covers are essential.  Find a graphic designer who can create a cover that will market your book in the best possible way.  Discover more about genres, and how covers play a role in distinguishing them.  If you’re writing non-fiction books, make sure your cover speaks to your audience, and the topic you are discussing.
  3. Write a Blurb – When you go to the bookshop and are browsing books, you pick one out, read the back, if you don’t like what it says, you return it to the shelf.  If you do like that small paragraph in the back, you immediately head to the counter to pay for it.  Hehehe…Now, take your book that you’ve spent months writing, and come up with a great blurb to entice your readers with one glance.
  4. If you’re publishing this book as an e-book on Smashwords/Amazon’s KDP, you are good to go.  The next step is to log on to your account, and start uploading the files as specified by each site.  Set your price, and hit publish.  Then start marketing your e-book like there is no tomorrow.
  5. Amazon has yet to offer any easier ways of getting paid in Kenya.  You still get a check in your mailbox with these guys when your sales reach $100.   Smashwords is more lenient.  They now pay out  monthly to Paypal.  And as I said earlier, Safaricom’s Mpesa now has an easy way for you to get your money through Paypal. 
  6. If you’re publishing your book as a physical book, get in touch with the copyright board, get your ISBN, and make sure you have crossed your T’s with them.  Then consider your printing options.  There are many different types of printers in Nairobi.  Some are efficient, others not so much. You need to find your perfect fit, money wise, and emotional-wise too.
  7. The rest is marketing and awareness.  Don’t forget that your book is a product.  Create a brand, embrace every reader who comes to you, and give them more with lots of love.  Share your work, and if readers love it, they will pay for it.

I write these little how-to’s because I believe the fiction/non-fiction books market is growing in Kenya.  We need more authors writing fiction and publishing it.  We need a bigger presence in the e-book market, and authors to take ownership of their fiction.  Then we can really have a vibrant industry, enough to entice more readers.  So, if you’re a writer reading this, get started today.  Get published!

Bonus:

Here’s a short fiction story to read for Free!

Download the Save My Heart PDF.

 

Picture Perfect – 17

Victoria headed to Ronald’s office spurred by aggravation.  She had avoided facing Ronald for two months, even if they worked so close, it was surprisingly easy to go weeks without seeing him.  Entering his office without knocking, Victoria stopped before Ronald’s desk, annoyed by his nonchalant expression.  Fighting the urge to smack the knowing look off his face, Victoria stood her ground.

“What brings you to my office, Vicky?”

“Stop bullying Anita,” Victoria said.

“She’s not a good worker.”

“That’s crap talk,” Victoria sighed.  “You’re not being fair to her.  She did nothing wrong.”

“If I don’t fire her, will you come back to me?”

“No.” Victoria flashed him a smile.  “I will, however, start thinking of you as a human being.”

Ronald scoffed.

“I see you’re still deluded by the photographer.  What can he give you?”

“His time,” Victoria said.  “If nothing else, at least Eric is honest with me.”

“I was honest too,” Ronald said, cocking his head to the side.  “We had it good, Vicky.  Dump that rough boy and come back to me.”

“I’m not here to talk about us.”  Victoria placed her hands on her hips.  “You’re the manager here, I work for you and so does Anita.  Keep things professional, or I’ll be forced to go above you with this.”

“You wouldn’t dare,” Ronald scoffed.

“Try me, Ronald,” Victoria snapped.

His expression dared her to try, and God help her, it worried her to tangle with her boss this way.  She didn’t want to lose her job.  After all, she needed to pay rent, there was her car payment, water, electricity, and future projects…her job was important to her.  Still…she would fight for Anita.

“Fine,” Ronald said, his tone cold.  “Anita can stay.  Don’t expect anything from me, Vicky.”

“I never did, Ronald.”

As she left Ronald’s office, Victoria realized that in truth, her attachment to Ronald was superficial.  The fear of being alone had kept her with him.  Clinging to a partner who cared nothing about her, she smiled as she entered the elevator.

That had changed now.  She wasn’t afraid.  There was nothing wrong with being single.  Despite her mother’s wishes or what everyone around her thought, it was pleasurable being by herself.  There was confidence in that knowledge.

On her way down to her office, her phone buzzed a message and she smiled when she saw a reminder from Eric.  Well, she reminded herself, there was now Eric.  They were visiting his house this weekend.

***

Saturday dawned sunny and beautiful, the light a golden yellow, turning the yard behind Eric’s house magical.

Eric, for once without a camera, carried two rose

Transplanting little flowers

plants, one white and the other pink.  They were in black bags, and ready to be transplanted into their new home.  He hurried to Victoria’s side where she was crouched in the flower garden, making sure the holes they’d made were deep enough.  He stopped beside her, placing the plants on each hole.

“How long until they bloom again?” Victoria asked.  “I’ve never known how long.”

“I don’t know either.  We can discover together,” Eric said, crouching beside her.  “What flowers do you like Victoria?”

“Lavender,” Victoria smiled.  “You can use lavender for a whole bunch of stuff, it’s a multipurpose flower.”

Eric chuckled.

“Typical.”

“What?”

“You always need to justify why you like something.  Say, you like lavender.  Leave it at that.”

“Fine, I like lavender flowers.”

Eric shook his head.

“What now?” Victoria bumped his shoulder with hers.

“Now you’re saying what I want to hear.”

“I’m going to throw dirt under your shirt.”

“I’ll stick earthworms in your hair.”

Eric lifted one out of the manure and Victoria fell back on her butt, with a strangled scream.  Eric laughed and brought the wiggling fat earthworm closer to her face.  Victoria screamed and scrambled away.

“Why are you freaking out?  You had your hands in the manure minutes ago.”

“Stop torturing tiny animals,” Victoria said getting to her feet.  “Eric, put the worm back in the soil.”

“Bribe me.”

“With what?”

“A kiss.”

“Fat chance I’m getting close to you right now.”  Victoria pointed at the squirming earthworm.  “That looks too disturbing.  Drop it in the soil, Eric.  Come on.”

“Say please,” Eric teased.

“Please?” Victoria begged, her eyes so wide and pleading, he dropped the earthworm in the hole they’d made for the roses.

“Babe, you beg prettily.”

Victoria scoffed and came at him.  She grabbed a handful of dirt and poured it down his shirt before he could react.  She ran off with a happy laugh and he stood still.

“Victoria!”

She giggled and raced toward the hose pipe fitted to the rain water tank by the house.

Eric ran after her, removing his t-shirt and throwing it on the grassy lawn.  He caught her just as she picked up the end of the hose.  She started to spray water at him, but he pulled her close and kissed her hard.  She dropped the hose and clung to his shoulders.

The compound was private, thanks to the live green fence he planted years ago.  The only gate was locked.  There was no one to interrupt them.  Eric smiled and kissed Victoria until she was breathless, her arms locked around his shoulders.

She broke the kiss first, burying her face into his shoulder.  He held her trembling body against his thinking his control was slipping.  Then, Victoria gasped her fingers digging into his skin.

Eric frowned.

“What’s wrong?”

Victoria tapped his shoulder, doing her best to step out of his embrace.  Eric turned to see what had her so panicked.  He gaped when he saw his four sisters standing a few feet away in a row.  All he needed was his mother behind them and the family would be complete.

How had they gotten in again?

“Eric?” his youngest sister said.  She had just finished high school.

Eric cleared his throat and took Victoria’s hand when she started to edge away.

“Mimo,” Eric said, pasting on a wide grin.  “Hi, this is Victoria.  I was removing an earthworm from her hair.”

Victoria groaned when his sisters burst into uncontrollable laughs.

“You couldn’t have come up with a better excuse?” Victoria whispered, she scowled at him and he smiled.

“This earthworm must have been tiny,” Waceke, the oldest sister, said.

“The size of wheat grain, he was searching so hard,” Njoki said.

Christine laughed the hardest at this comment.  She was the third born sister, always so amused, but the easiest to conquer.  Eric looked at her for support.  He gave her a pleading gaze and she giggled, hurrying to his side.

“Oh, look, you have soil on your back,” Christine said.  “You’re working hard, Eric.  Hi Victoria, I’m Christine.  Third sister on the line.  Hope you’re now free of earthworms.

Victoria scowled at Eric, and then smiled at Christine.

“Thoroughly free,” Victoria answered.

Mimo launched herself at Eric and he braced for impact as she hugged him hard.

“What are you ladies doing here?” he asked, not willing to give up the privacy he’d carved out this weekend.

“Mum bought veggies from the market for you.  She said to drop them off,” Njoki explained.  “Didn’t think you’d be home at this hour.”

It was only nine-thirty in the morning.  Eric had hassled Victoria out of her house at eight wanting to spend the day with her.  They had gone to buy the flowers along Ngong road, then come straight to his house.

“We started out early,” Eric said, locking his arm around Victoria’s waist.  “Want to share a late breakfast with us, since you’re here?”

“Yes,” Christine said, she moved fast, pulling Victoria out of Eric’s reach.  Christine led Victoria to the house.

“Why don’t you wash up,” Njoki said, giving him a small smile.  “We’ll get breakfast started.”

Before Eric could protest, his sisters were gone toward the house, and he was alone with the hosepipe.  He wondered if he should invest in a new better lock for his gate.  Staring at the blue sky, Eric groaned.

***

Thank you for reading….to be continued ^_^!

Special thanks to Ngatia Edwin for reading this story this year, and inspiring me to continue posting it on here!  I will work hard to post it all.

Picture Perfect 16

Five Reasons why you need an Editor in Kenya

Five Reasons why you need an Editor in Kenya.

Editing is lifesaving to writers.  A good editor will make your work shine, and help you tell your story in the clearest way possible.  A good editor will ensure you are bringing out the best of your content.

editing
Editing Notes

Here is why:

  1. Language:
    • Editors will make sure you have structured your sentences, full stops, commas, ellipses, dialogue tags…all these important tools and ingredients in the right way. This is no excuse for you to ignore the rules of language.  A writer should be well-versed on language, and the tools it requires to write a good story.  The editor helps you refine your language.  You don’t want to punish your editor, you want to inspire them to help you polish your work.
  2. They are your first audience:
    • A good editor will resonate with your work. If they read it, engage with it, and interact, then you’re one step closer to reaching a wider audience.  Do listen to their advice, even when you don’t want to.  It will help you in the long run.
  3. Your Editor will help guide you in the right direction
    • Depending on the relationship you develop with your editor, any conversation you have with your editor can help the direction you take with your work. They will challenge you to break long time habits, explore your talent, and push it beyond the limits you have set yourself as a writer.  Be careful to choose an editor you can communicate with.  Don’t forget, Editing is a service, shop around until you find the right fit for you.
  4. Editors keep you honest – If you’re writing fiction, and your editor knows your style, the moment you start to cut corners, your editor will call you out on them and keep you honest.
  5. They are always right, not always, but most times– This is the hardest thing to take for a writer. The moment your editor reads your work and you find a series of red marks, suggestions and comments.  Do not lose your head.  Take a walk, then return to your document and give it a second look.  You may argue a point out with your editor, sometimes, you may win, most times, you won’t as they are only trying to help you tell your story in a clear manner.

Once you have finished writing your fiction, or non-fiction book, get yourself an editor.  Do not mind the cost and take it as an investment.  To ensure the fiction/poetry or non-fiction book you produce is polished, and readable.  Remember, your book is a product, you want to produce the best content quality possible.

Have you found your right Editor?

Life on the Fast Track – 19

Track 19 : No matter how crazy I get, I’ll come home to you

Danny and Nic drove Tyler to Danny’s garage, where they cleaned the cut on his forehead.  Once they drilled the truth out of him, Nic decided to call a criminal investigator who worked with his father.  Jimmy caught up with them as they waited for the investigator to show up.

Danny sat with Tyler, unable to understand why such a young man would want to get into so much trouble.  Adrian ordered Tyler to cause trouble at the racecourse, hoping an accident would occur that would bring in a police investigation.  Apparently, Adrian wanted to buy the racing grounds from Danny and Jimmy.  He figured if enough troubles arose, and police got involved, Danny would cut his losses and put up the business for sale.  As if, Danny scoffed.  He had worked too hard to give up what he had now.

“You could walk away,” Danny pointed out to Tyler.Danny

“Have you met Adrian?” Tyler scoffed.  “He controls my life, Danny.  It’s not like I can say no.”

Hiyo ni ufala,” Danny said, staring at him.  “You’re weak, that’s why you can’t say no.  He is not forcing you; you’re allowing him to control you.  What do you lose if you walk away?” (That’s stupidity)

“I heard you’re finally dating Jasmine,” Tyler said, meeting his gaze.

Danny was surprised to read jealousy in Tyler’s eyes.

“What does that have to do with anything?”

“Adrian threatened to hurt her when we were together.  I’d found the strength to walk away from him then, I really thought I could make it work with her.  Then Adrian showed up, and I had no choice but to walk away.  To protect her,” Tyler said.  “I broke her heart.”

Danny sighed, not sure what to say.

“You should thank me,” Tyler said, with a small smile.  “She always did like you, never had the courage to tell you though.  Guess she got it somehow.”

Danny thought about Jasmine’s pleading gaze when he refused to listen to her.  She was going to be so angry with him.

“Now what?” Tyler asked, looking around Danny’s garage office.  “Nice place.”

“Now you get out of town,” Nic said, coming into the office with his CID friend.  “You’re going to help this man bring your brother in to the police.  I hate thieves, and bastards who think they’re entitled to anything they want.  If I was a more cruel man, you wouldn’t have lived tonight.”

Tyler sighed, and turned to Danny.

“I suppose this is what I deserve for what I did earlier. I wish you were handling this instead of him. Nic frightens me, more than you do,” Tyler said.  “Can you tell Jasmine something for me?”

Danny frowned.  “Why would I do that?”

“Because.”  Tyler shrugged.  “My head hurts, and she was the last person who cared about me.  Tell her I was wrong.  She was worth fighting for.”

“Okay, Casanova,” Nic said, coming to grip Tyler’s left arm and pulling him up to his feet.  “Let’s go.  Danny, the Andersons will be history in a few.  I’ve cleaned up the races this time.  That means you now owe me a favor.”

“Noted.”

“Good.  I love your car.  Got you around really fast,” Nic said, with a grin as he left the office.  “Care to race for logs?”

“I’ll consider it,” Danny said, glad when Nic disappeared with Tyler and the detective with no further comments.

Danny stared at the keys he still held, the skyline was full of luck.

He sat back in his seat and looked at Jimmy who was leaning on the doorjamb.

“Jazz?”

“She’s with Terry, at your house.  She was not happy,” Jimmy said.  “She looked pissed off with you, you have your work cut out for you.”

Danny stood, and stretched his arms above his head.

“We’ll get through this,” Danny decided.

Jimmy grinned.  “All I can say is good luck.”

Danny drove home at six in the morning.  He parked his car and hurried into the house, anticipation coursing through him.  This was the first time Jasmine would be staying over his house, as his girlfriend.  She had stayed over before, but with Terry.  Now, it was for him, he smiled as he closed the front door.

He was surprised to see Terry relaxing on the couch, watching a home-makeover show.  She hugged her pillow, and was still in pajamas.  This soft, disarrayed side of Terry was rare.  He only saw it when she was worried.  Danny walked over to her and touched the headscarf covering her hair.  She looked at him with bleary eyes.  Clearly, she had not slept.

“Hey.”

“Jasmine went home.”  Terry stated.  “She couldn’t stay here, kept freaking out that you might kill yourself racing the streets of Nairobi after a psycho who tried to kill you.”

“Why didn’t you talk her into staying?”

“Because, I’m sure if I tried, she’d talk herself into the reasons why she can’t be with you,” Terry snapped.

“Tereza.”

“I love her,” Terry said.  “She’s like a sister to me, Danny.  I love you too.  You’re my brother.  So fix it so I don’t have to choose which one of you I have to give up.  I stayed up to tell you that, now I’m going to bed.”

***

Two hours later, showered and changed, Danny walked up to Jasmine’s front door.  He contemplated unlocking her door with the spare key she gave him, but then he thought it was better to knock, and ended up pressing the doorbell.

The door opened, and Danny stared at a younger version of Jasmine.

“Wow, you are Jazz’s secret, aren’t you?” She grinned and leaned on the doorjamb.  “Oh Jasmine, kuna stori ha uja twambia.  Guys, come out here.”

Footsteps, and in seconds, Danny stared at a younger boy who also looked like Jasmine.  Her brother and sister, he assumed.  The older woman behind them all studied him with a suspicious gaze.

Jasmine’s mother, Danny thought, when she narrowed her gaze at him.

“Morning,” Wanja said, pushing her son and daughter aside.  “Call me Mama Jazz.  What’s your name?”

“Danny.”

“Danny, why don’t you come inside,” Wanja said, her smile a tad too inviting.

Danny wondered where Jasmine was, but decided to take the plunge and give Jasmine a reason to forgive him.  Taking Wanja’s hand, he allowed her to lead him into the house.

***

To be continued…Thanks for reading ^_^

←Previous Track