This post is going to explore the threat of plagiarism faced by most writers, bloggers, content creators, and others. Since the world is online, and content has become a means to earn, copy-paste is more prevalent than authenticity.
I recently received a message from a reader about content that might have been copy-pasted from my blog and posted elsewhere. Since the information in question is in the public domain, I was not overly concerned.
I am eternally grateful to the lady who found the content and was happy to message me about the suspected infringement. I think that is the best and more awesome thing to happen. I love all my readers, but she is amazing for telling me.
Now, the truth is we all post content online with the knowledge that after a time, someone somewhere is going to find it interesting enough to copy-paste it. It happens. It is not okay, but it does. Instead of getting worried, scared, or angry. It is better to arm yourself with the tools to face this threat. Empower yourself with the means to protect your creative content.
So, I have two stories to share with you.
The first story is about an author who got their work plagiarized on a site called Inkitt by a second party. The plagiarism incident consisted of this second party taking the author’s work (novel), changing the title and the names of the characters, but keeping everything else similar down to the spelling and grammar. The second party got a couple of readers and comments complimenting them on the work. Of course, one of these readers happened to know the story belonged to someone else. And so, the author received a message on Instagram from a fan who wrote, ‘Someone tried to copy your book on inkitt’, included was the link to the copied work and the account of this second party.
Now, after the initial shock, this author friend of mine started a search for what to do. The first and most direct thing she did was to contact inkitt.com and see if they can help.
Inkitt.com wasted no time in dealing with the matter. They do not tolerate plagiarism, and the second party was penalized the moment the complaint was verified. The incident lasted less than twenty-four hours. The plagiarized story was taken down.
In this story, the author learned about the case of plagiarism because of a fan. This is the first line of defense an author has and should cultivate. If your work is good and authentic, and it engages your readers, your readers will be the first people to tell you if your content is published elsewhere without your consent.
Now, if it happens to you, and you find your creative content plagiarized online, you are empowered and there is no need to feel as though you can’t publish again.
The first line of defense is to approach the site you found the content and make a simple request. Claim the work as yours, and ask that it be removed. A ‘cease and desist’ request. Five out of ten times, the person who has plagiarized will bring it down without reaching out to you and you won’t have to worry about it.
If no response happens, discover the FAQs about the website. If the person who has plagiarized the work does not own the site. If the site is owned by an organization like Inkitt, you can reach out to the organization and ask them to pull the work down. They will do it if you can prove ownership of the work. If the site is owned privately, and the author has refused to respond, then move on to the third option.
Search engines like Google offer tools like Content Removal if an incident of copyright infringement occurs. They slap a DCMA complaint on the site and the content is no longer crawled on the search engine. The burden of origination and verification is on the original author, but if you are confident and have the information needed, Google is quite efficient in removing copyright infringement articles and content. You will find the instructions on how to do this here. Bing also offers you the same tools. If you’re running a wordpress.com site, Automattic offers you the means to file a complaint of copyright infringement. This brings me to my second story.
The second story is about a Kenyan-based business name owner and an international organization that registered the same name as a trademark. In November 2022, the international organization used Automattic to file a complaint of copyright infringement on their trademark against the Kenyan-based business name owner. The complaint was written as follows:
A clear and detailed explanation of how the above content is in violation of the trademark in question, thus creating consumer confusion: We are contacting you on behalf of the French company “xxxxx”, whose head office is “xxxx, PARIS”.
We have noticed (see below) that you are using the mark "XXXXXX” without the consent of the owner of the trademark and are therefore violating their intellectual property rights.
By this letter, we request that you cease all disputed use of the trademark and/or take all appropriate measures to ensure that the infringing uses are removed.
I have a good faith belief that use of the trademark as described above is an infringement of the rights granted under United States and/or foreign trademark law.: Yes
I understand that a copy of this notice, including any contact information I provided above, will be forwarded to the blog owner.: Yes
Signed on this date of (today's date, MM/DD/YYYY): 10/11/2022
Signature (your digital signature is legally binding): XXXXX
Obviously, the Kenyan-based business name owner started a frantic search for how to handle this complaint. Why was dealing with this complaint so important?
The blog in question is over ten years old, with great traffic, and an enormous amount of content.
The business name represented a physical business in Nairobi, Kenya.
At first glance, there is the thought that this person making the complaint is located in another country, France to be exact, which is on another continent. How could they present this big a problem to a business in Kenya?
A second glance brought out all the weaknesses. The business name owner in Kenya may have started out not intending to infringe on the France-based organization. However, as time continued, the blog grew, and the physical business grew, it drew more attention. The legal standing of the business name owner in Kenya came into question.
Now, if the business name is not registered with the company’s registrar or trademark office in Kenya, they have no legal standing to fight the complaint. At the time of this complaint, they had no legal right to fight the complaint.
So, the right answer was to comply with the complaint. The blog is also under Automattic’s jurisdiction. If Automattic wanted to stop hosting the blog, then they would, of course after a conversation with both parties.
After painful deliberations, the Kenyan-based business name owner decided to approach KIPI with a different variation of their business name and complete the necessary registrations in order to stop this from happening again.
In this same case, it is getting easier for international companies to log copyright infringement cases against Kenyans.
Why? We start our websites on wordpress.com, make content for Youtube, and want to crawl our sites on Google. These sites have to comply with various copyright laws, and so should we.
So, I’ll end my blog post on copy-paste and authenticity on this note.
As you create your blog, website, social media account, start a business and write your novels, work on making your content authentic. Cite your sources where you need to, and most of all, don’t claim other people’s work as your own. It is also important to note that search engines penalize copy-pasted content. It is much harder to rank on the first page if you have simply taken information from someone’s site, and pasted it on your own.
Work on Authenticity
If you practice copy-paste, learn how to cite the original content. Know that it might cost you.
Written by Damian White / Illustrated by Francesco Orazzini
What if I told you the golden rule of speech is to speak when spoken through?
This poetry collection explores a number of themes, ranging from spirituality and religion to perseverance and humility. The poems in Damian White’s debut book dwell less in the realm of imagistic and narrative impulses and more so strive for a “higher order statement.”
In I Made A Place For You, we experience the turmoil unearthed from daring to make a place for our inmost curiosities.
I Made Place For You is Damien White’s debut poetry book. This short compilation of poems speaks on spirituality, inner thoughts, and their power on our souls. Each poem is matched to a colorful, thought-evoking illustration done by Francesco Orazzini.
I Made A Place For You starts with a poem named ‘Post Mortem’ in which White discusses the consequences of the human need to tell white lies. We hide flaws at the detriment of losing our true selves or decaying inside. White hopes in the distant future, his headstone shall read ‘…here lies a man who never died inside’.
I especially loved the poem I Am Innocent, in which White says, ‘…we build a fortress/of validation/and guillotine/our most precious birthright: Innocence’ A phrase filled with impact, and perhaps a eulogy to the innocence that is often stripped from us when we’re too young.
In Good Mourning, White alludes to our human existence, arguing ‘…we are soil/…vital and better suited/ for sunshine’. Regardless of where we are, who we are, and what we wish to be, we are creatures that need nurturing. A moment of sun, vitalizing food, and especially good information to cultivate our thoughts. We are not a lump of ash.
White spends a few words discussing spirituality and the importance of looking to a higher power. In Playing God, he says, ‘…to be Godly/ is not to be God’. I found this poem to be the most powerful in terms of exploring our spiritual relationship with God. No matter what we do, how godly we are, we shall always answer to the one who made us.
The illustrated pictures had me going back to read the poem they represent. There is this moment that plays out as you read a poem, looking at the illustration to see if it matches your interpretation. Then, looking at the poem again to make it work with the art. This back-and-forth is such an important part of engagement with the words.
My favorite, the one that worked perfectly for me, illustration and poem, is called ‘Written in Blood’. In this poem, White says, ‘…As Ink bleeds/ I bleed‘. Francesco Orazzini captures the essence of turning ink into words, and the masochist nature of a writer, with absolute precision. I love it.
I Made A Place For You is a debut poetry book filled with amazing little gems of words.
The worlds brought to life by a book series can be epically amazing (LOTR), hard to forget (HP), or a bit hard to imagine (Twilight). The one thing they all have in common is the adventures and characters that live through a number of books. I have always been a LOTR and HP fan. Because I’m a fan of these two, I confess to falling into a continuous search for that feeling of discovering a new amazing and hard-to-forget series. So, this year I fell into two worlds that almost came close, each with its own unique charm.
1. The All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness.
This series follows the story of Diana Bishop, who is a historian and a reluctant witch. She works to solve the mystery of Ashmole 782, falls in love with a very mysterious vampire named Mathew Clairmont, and learns how powerful one can be after accepting who one truly is.
A Discovery of Witches
A richly inventive novel about a centuries-old vampire, a spellbound witch, and the mysterious manuscript that draws them together.
Deep in the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.
Shadow of Night
Picking up from A Discovery of Witches’ cliffhanger ending, Shadow of Night takes Diana and Matthew on a trip through time to Elizabethan London, where they are plunged into a world of spies, magic, and a coterie of Matthew’s old friends, the School of Night.
As the search for Ashmole 782 deepens and Diana seeks out a witch to tutor her in magic, the net of Matthew’s past tightens around them, and they embark on a very different—and vastly more dangerous—journey.
The Book of Life
Bringing the magic and suspense of the All Souls Trilogy to a deeply satisfying conclusion, this highly anticipated finale went straight to #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. In The Book of Life, Diana and Matthew time-travel back from Elizabethan London to make a dramatic return to the present—facing new crises and old enemies.
At Matthew’s ancestral home, Sept-Tours, they reunite with the beloved cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches—with one significant exception. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on even more urgency.
I enjoyed reading these three books. The story is solid, and the adventures Diana goes through are quite entertaining. There is a lot of descriptive prose to get through, but once you get over the start, the flow is good. All three books are complete and available. If you prefer not to read, there is a TV Series called ‘A Discovery of Witches’ with 3 seasons.
The Shadow and Bone Trilogy is the story of Alina Starkov, a soldier in the kingdom of Ravka who discovers she possesses magical abilities. Training with the Grisha, her country’s magical military elite, Alina falls under the spell of their notorious leader, the Darkling. He believes she is the only one with the power to defeat the forces threatening the kingdom–forces that will test old alliances and challenge the very limits of magic, one that will forge a leader from a frightened girl.
Shadow and Bone- Book 1
Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near-impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.
Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.
Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.
Siege and Storm – Book 2
Darkness never dies.
Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land, all while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. But she can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.
The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her—or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.
Ruin and Rising – Book 3
The capital has fallen.
The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.
Now the nation’s fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.
Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.
Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova’s amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling’s secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.
The Grishaverse was interesting to get into and is a fun read. I have various complaints about the darkling and Alina. Lots of complaints, however, if you can get over these two or don’t mind them at all, the grishaverse is very fun to explore. Once again, if reading is not your thing and you prefer watching, check out Netflix’s Shadow and Bone series. It only has one season at the moment, but rumor has it another season is on the way.
With this list of six books, my Goodreads 2022 Reading Challenge ends at 53 books. To be honest, a few of the books I read on the list did not give me the review-it-now vibes, it happens. However, I’m excited to have gotten through the challenge and to get through all these books. It was nice having this one constant easy goal to get done through the year. The fun part comes with finding books to put on the list, hahaha. I had a few that I really could not finish and had to replace with others. It turns out I am a huge series fan. I’m quite sure 2023 will have quite a few of these series books too. Here’s looking forward to 2023.
Combining magic, mysticism, wisdom, and wonder into an inspiring tale of self-discovery, The Alchemist has become a modern classic, selling millions of copies around the world and transforming the lives of countless readers across generations.
Paulo Coelho’s masterpiece tells the mystical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure. His quest will lead him to riches far different—and far more satisfying—than he ever imagined. Santiago’s journey teaches us about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, of recognizing opportunity and learning to read the omens strewn along life’s path, and, most importantly, to follow our dreams.
Quotes to remember:
“If what one finds is made of pure matter, it will never spoil. And one can always come back. If what you had found was only a moment of light, like the explosion of a star, you would find nothing on your return.”
“No matter what he does, every person on earth plays a central role in the history of the world. And normally he doesn’t know it.“ – The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
Nearly every time you see him, he’s laughing, or at least smiling. And he makes everyone else around him feel like smiling. He’s the Dalai Lama, the spiritual and temporal leader of Tibet, a Nobel Prize winner, and an increasingly popular speaker and statesman. What’s more, he’ll tell you that happiness is the purpose of life, and that “the very motion of our life is towards happiness.” How to get there has always been the question. He’s tried to answer it before, but he’s never had the help of a psychiatrist to get the message across in a context we can easily understand. Through conversations, stories, and meditations, the Dalai Lama shows us how to defeat day-to-day anxiety, insecurity, anger, and discouragement. Together with Dr. Cutler, he explores many facets of everyday life, including relationships, loss, and the pursuit of wealth, to illustrate how to ride through life’s obstacles on a deep and abiding source of inner peace.
To Note: this book is written by Dr. Howard C. Cutler. However, I find His Holiness The Dalai Lama IXV’s thoughtful answers to Dr. Cutler’s questions give this book its heart. I loved his words on life situations the most.
Interesting notes to nourish the soul include: “…I think that to a large extent, whether you suffer depends on how you respond to a given situation. For example, say that you find out that someone is speaking badly of you behind your back. If you react to this knowledge that someone is speaking badly of you, this negativity, with a feeling of hurt or anger, then you yourself destroy your own peace of mind. Your pain is your own personal creation. On the other hand, if you refrain from reacting in a negative way, let the slander pass by you as if it were a silent wind passing behind your ears, you protect yourself from that feeling of hurt, that feeling of agony. So, although you may not always be able to avoid difficult situations, you can modify the extent to which you suffer by how you choose to respond to the situation.”- His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Gilbert offers insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work, embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.
On Being Creative: I’ve found myself struggling with two big monsters. They are fear and imposter syndrome. I have to work past the barriers they create to put out work at times. It is not easy, and there are times these two things do cripple creativity. So, I’ve found my solace, and inspiration from the words I read in Big Magic. Here is a literal paragraph I resonate with when I’m not at my best:
Are you considering becoming a creative person? Too late, you already are
one. To even call somebody “a creative person” is almost laughably redundant;
creativity is the hallmark of our species. We have the senses for it; we have the
curiosity for it; we have the opposable thumbs for it; we have the rhythm for it;
we have the language and the excitement and the innate connection to divinity
If you’re alive, you’re a creative person. You and I and everyone you know
are descended from tens of thousands of years of makers. Decorators, tinkerers,
storytellers, dancers, explorers, fiddlers, drummers, builders, growers, problemsolvers,
and embellishers—these are our common ancestors.
The guardians of high culture will try to convince you that the arts belong
only to a chosen few, but they are wrong and they are also annoying. We are all
the chosen few. We are all makers by design. Even if you grew up watching
cartoons in a sugar stupor from dawn to dusk, creativity still lurks within you.
Your creativity is way older than you are, way older than any of us. Your very
body and your very being are perfectly designed to live in collaboration with
inspiration, and inspiration is still trying to find you—the same way it hunted
down your ancestors.
All of which is to say: You do not need a permission slip from the principal’s
office to live a creative life.
Or if you do worry that you need a permission slip—THERE, I just gave it to
I just wrote it on the back of an old shopping list.
Consider yourself fully accredited.
Now go make something.
- Elizabeth Gilbert,
Big Magic : Creative Living Beyond Fear.
You don’t need to be a genius, you just need to be yourself. That’s the message from Austin Kleon, a young writer and artist who knows that creativity is everywhere, creativity is for everyone. A manifesto for the digital age, Steal Like an Artist is a guide whose positive message, graphic look and illustrations, exercises, and examples will put readers directly in touch with their artistic side.
This short and sweet book is meant to act as a reminder of what to focus on when you’re hoping to find ideas for your next project. How to get through that project, and deal with the aftermath of said project. Snippets of Wisdom include: “..Amassing a body of work or building a career is a lot about the slow accumulation of little bits of effort over time. Writing a page each day doesn’t seem like much, but do it for 365 days and you have enough to fill a novel. One successful client pitch is a small victory, but a few dozen of them can get you a promotion…” – Austin Kleon
The Lean Startup approach fosters companies that are both more capital efficient and that leverage human creativity more effectively. Inspired by lessons from lean manufacturing, it relies on “validated learning,” rapid scientific experimentation, as well as a number of counter-intuitive practices that shorten product development cycles, measure actual progress without resorting to vanity metrics, and learn what customers really want. It enables a company to shift directions with agility, altering plans inch by inch, minute by minute.
Rather than wasting time creating elaborate business plans, The Lean Startup offers entrepreneurs – in companies of all sizes – a way to test their vision continuously, to adapt and adjust before it’s too late. Ries provides a scientific approach to creating and managing successful startups in a age when companies need to innovate more than ever.
The Lean Startup is a book filled with a strategy on how to bring business ideas to life. The book explains the lean startup strategy and explains how you can implement it in your small business, if you have one or are trying to start one. It is not a fast read, but a book to take chapter by chapter. The best way to see if the ideas work is to implement them, try them out in a small scale and see what works. Pivot in time.
October is here! My favorite month. I’m also over excited because the creators of Bleach are blessing fans with a new final arc calledBLEACH: Thousand-Year Blood War on October 10th, 2022.This blog post is going to take a minute to celebrate VIZ Media by taking a moment to gush over the awesome manga titles I’ve read from them as a rabid manga fan.
Here is a look at the new trailer, premiering on October 10, 2022. Ichigo Kurosaki coming your way with some Bankai! Don’t miss out. This show was really fun to watch. The characters going through multiple levels of growth, and the visuals only improved with each arc. Check out the full series if you can before you find the new arc.
VIZ has had some great releases. Here are a few of my fave preferences
In the late 19th century, Great Britain rules over a quarter of the world. Nobles sit in their fancy homes in comfort and luxury, while the working class slaves away at their jobs. When young Albert James Moriarty’s upper-class family adopts two lower-class orphans, the cruelty the boys experience at his family’s hands cements Albert’s hatred of the nobility he was born into. He asks the older of the two boys—who has a genius mind and a killer instinct—to help him rid the world of evil, starting with Albert’s own family!
Storyboards by Ryosuke Takeuchi, Art by Hikaru Miyoshi
Learning to destroy demons won’t be easy, and Tanjiro barely knows where to start. The surprise appearance of another boy named Giyu, who seems to know what’s going on, might provide some answers—but only if Tanjiro can stop Giyu from killing his sister first!
As his classmates celebrate their middle school graduation, troubled Mirai is mired in darkness. But his battle is just beginning when he receives some salvation from above in the form of an angel. Now Mirai is pitted against 12 other chosen humans in a battle in which the winner becomes the next god of the world. Mirai has an angel in his corner, but he may need to become a devil to survive.
Story by Tsugumi Ohba, Art by Takeshi Obata | ImprintSHONEN JUMP | Platinum End is complete at Volume 14
Having fought his way into the top grade of Mechanical Martial Arts, Levius faces an ever-changing world that grows more threatening by the day. The shadowy megacorporation Amethyst wields its military might across the world through advancements in the arena. Can Levius be the fighter who changes the course of the world’s fate?
Formerly titled The Hill We Climb and Other Poems, the luminous poetry collection by #1 New York Times bestselling author and presidential inaugural poet Amanda Gorman captures a shipwrecked moment in time and transforms it into a lyric of hope and healing. In Call Us What We Carry, Gorman explores history, language, identity, and erasure through an imaginative and intimate collage. Harnessing the collective grief of a global pandemic, this beautifully designed volume features poems in many inventive styles and structures and shines a light on a moment of reckoning. Call Us What We Carry reveals that Gorman has become our messenger from the past, our voice for the future.
I fell into this poetry book on a Saturday afternoon. I love so many poems in this book. I wish I could share them all, but that would spoil the fun of you discovering them for yourself…hahaha. So, I can only share the little gems I found between the many pages filled with Miss Gorman’s poetry.
In There’s No Power Like Home, she says:
‘…we were sick of home/Home sick. / That mask around our ear/ hung itself into the year.’
The pandemic year so aptly described and our time at home certainly felt like forever. We became homebodies.
In Good Grief, she says,
‘…All that is grave need not be a burden, an anguish/ Call it, instead, an anchor…/ What we carry means we survive/It is what survives us
There are many grave experiences that touch our lives, the most profound one being the loss of those we love. In the storm that follows, the grief we carry makes us, defines who we are, who we become…Ms. Gorman argues it can be called good grief. Something that anchors us to what matters.
In the poem, Call Us, she says,
‘…at times over half of our bodies are not our own/…we are, a boat of a being/ A country/ A continent/ A planet / A Human/ We are we/ Call us/ What we carry
We are never the one thing, no matter how much one thinks so. If not from the country’s viewpoint, even at home we are a child/siblings/parents/aunts and uncles/friends/coworkers…so many parts of us. I love this poem.
In the Lighthouse, Miss Gorman quotes Terrence’s Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto. (I’m human, I consider nothing that is human is alien to me.) Then writes of a year lived in isolation mode.
‘…this year was no year/ when next generations ask, we will say/ it went something like this: / the empty/ creaking playing grounds/…gatherings and people, gone to rust/’.
Describing the endless months of not meeting loved ones, coworkers, friends, and family. This poem ends with a bucket of hope that our harsh memories from that year will pass.
‘…hope is no silent harbor, no haven still/ it is the roaring thing that tugs us away/ from the very shores we clutch/…
We move forward despite the hard patch. We meet others now, pushing the fear of the pandemic away, after all, nothing human is alien to us.
In What We Carry, she says,
‘…children understand/ even grime is a gift/ what is mired is miraculous/ what is marred is still marvelous/
This poem reminds us of our childhood days, of running around with no care in the world. Playing in the dirt and lying on the grass staring at the clouds for hours. How we saw beauty before we grew up and our opinions and perception hardened. She speaks of emerging from the pandemic era.
‘…we have recalled how to touch each other/ and how to trust all that is good and all right/’.
How we must look beyond. Carry our hopes forward.
'…We have learned our true names—/ not what we are called/ but what we are called to carry forth from here/ what do we carry, if not/ what and who we care most for/…’
Ms. Gorman ends this poem with a call to let go, to discard, ‘…our rage, our wreckage/ our hubris/ our hate/ our ghosts/ our greed/ our wrath/ our wars/ on the beating shore.’ She hopes we find a haven in what we have left after the ravaging storms we have faced.
‘…what we have left/ is all we need/ we are enough /armed only/ with our hands/ open but unemptied/ just like a blooming thing / we walk into tomorrow/ carrying nothing/ but the world.’
Sixteen-year-old Deka lives in fear and anticipation of the blood ceremony that will determine whether she will become a member of her village. Already different from everyone else because of her unnatural intuition, Deka prays for red blood so she can finally feel like she belongs.
But on the day of the ceremony, her blood runs gold, the color of impurity–and Deka knows she will face a consequence worse than death.
Then a mysterious woman comes to her with a choice: stay in the village and submit to her fate, or leave to fight for the emperor in an army of girls just like her. They are called alaki–near-immortals with rare gifts. And they are the only ones who can stop the empire’s greatest threat.
Knowing the dangers that lie ahead yet yearning for acceptance, Deka decides to leave the only life she’s ever known. But as she journeys to the capital to train for the biggest battle of her life, she will discover that the great walled city holds many surprises. Nothing and no one are quite what they seem to be–not even Deka herself.
Deka is hoping to undergo the purity ritual and earn acceptance among her people. However, an unexpected event in her village makes this dream impossible. She soon discovers that the people she has cared for, loved, and leaned on can turn on her in a second. Her blood runs gold, marking her as impure. In a society rooted too deep in patriarchy, this impurity dooms her to death without trial.
Deka’s people believe in Oyomo’s teachings. Communities revere this religion, and anything that ventures away from the teachings becomes impure. A girl with gold blood in her veins is judged impure on sight. For “…an impure girl is despised by Oyomo, her very existence an offense to Him. Her murder is sanctioned by the Infinite Wisdoms, and who can argue with the holy books? Who would dare even try? All the families can see from then on is the demon that somehow invaded their bloodline. The sheer wickedness of it stings…” – The Gilded Ones.
Deka is doomed to die until an opportunity finds her in the hole the elders have placed her. A hole where they kill her repeatedly in an effort to end her. This opportunity gives her a chance for a new life. A chance to discover if there is more to her gold blood, and may give her a reason to live. For Deka must learn how to live with impurity as she views it. She is a believer in Oyomo too, and hopes for salvation, even as she is the very thing this Oyomo condemns. It takes great effort to get her past these beliefs and the torture and pain she endures to find herself beyond the Infinite Wisdoms can only be called a rebirth.
The Gilded Ones is not an easy fantasy read. It is full of torture and abuse of women, born from the weight of religious extremism. The religion in question is Oyomo’s holy book called the Infinite Wisdoms. The priests who teach these pearls of wisdom persecute young girls and women like Deka born from what they call The Gilded Ones. The truth of the Gilded Ones is therefore hidden in the persecution that soon turns the cruelty toward the gold-blooded women into a common occurrence.
Deka fights these injustices, trying to find the truth behind her existence. Who she is and why she is persecuted. In time, when she learns the truth, it becomes clear that she must survive and earn a life for herself.
This book is an absolute ride. I love the characters, and the world-building. I do wish there was less torture, and in the end, I feel that Deka has serious mental health issues that need resolving in time. However, I also know there is a second book and perhaps she will get to address her ghosts then.
August 31st is here and it is a mix of warm and cold. Our little corner in Nairobi is feeling dry-ish. Still waiting for decent rain. The month was filled with a voting week and the strange limbo that follows result week. Kenyans, we remain resilient. The business continues, and we march on. On the fun side, Netflix keeps on giving. I love the Sandman and hope they come through for a second season and a third. The Sandman comics are so much fun to read. My favorite episode remains the one with the cats and Calliope.
We made a trip to our national library, now labeled Maktaba Kuu. My sister and I went there to make a legal deposit for books we printed. It is always the most interesting activity to do. The government has recently revamped the national library and everything looks spanking new. There is so much space for books, which is awesome because when you buy an ISBN in Kenya you have to deposit two printed books with the ISBN to the library. This is the only to buy a new ISBN batch. I loved all the new reading spaces, and the librarians are all so friendly, that you just want to move in and stay. Hahaha.
The ISBN legal deposit of books is a great initiative in terms of contributing new titles to the national library. It also allows anyone to find the book and read it at no charge. So, if you want to read a book printed in Kenya and can’t find it or afford it for the moment, try visiting the Kenyan Library. Give it a read and leave it for the next person to check it out too.
I recently reviewed Murdering Romance by Kendi Karimi. Through her, I got to pick up her book from Nuria the Honest Store. I love the concept of this online bookstore. They stock a wide range of genres, and especially stock Kenyan writers. You purchase these books online through their website and have them delivered to your location. I got my package and a cute bookmark that I will definitely use often.
If you’re a writer, consider approaching Nuria to sell your books. If you’re a reader, check out the Nuria Online store and see if they work for you. You can also visit their location in town to get a look at the titles they carry.
This big book always excites me because it took some work to get through the editing process, the formatting, and the cover design. When the printed version comes home, I always have this moment of excitement going through the pages to make sure everything is as we planned. Yes, we do find a typo or a detail that should have been removed and it’s like…argh. But then, we shake it off and make notes to get it in the next edition. This is the journey, but nothing beats having the book in hand in printed form.
My reading list was done faster this month. I got through five books, which is awesome. I hope I do about the same in September if I’m to get to 52 Books for the reading challenge. Hahaha. The best book this month has been Wash Day Diaries. Just…the best thing I’ve seen in a graphic novel.
I’ve spent August in editing mode. Editing remains full of teachable moments, like keeping my writer self away from someone’s voice while insisting on rewrites.
September is coming. It is one of my favorite months. The second one is in October. That’s the update from the blog this August 2022. I’m super looking forward to September’s sunny days in our corner. Take care of yourself, and I hope you make a dent in your ongoing projects.
Wash Day Diaries tells the story of four best friends—Kim, Tanisha, Davene, and Cookie—through five connected short story comics that follow these young women through the ups and downs of their daily lives in the Bronx. The book takes its title from the wash day experience shared by Black women everywhere, setting aside all plans and responsibilities for a full day of washing, conditioning, and nourishing their hair. Each short story uses hair routines as a window into these four characters’ everyday lives and how they care for each other. Jamila Rowser and Robyn Smith originally kickstarted their critically acclaimed, award-winning slice-of-life mini-comic, Wash Day, inspired by Rowser’s own wash day ritual and their shared desire to see more comics featuring the daily lived experiences of young Black women. Wash Day Diaries includes an updated, full-color version of this original comic—which follows Kim, a 26-year-old woman living in the Bronx—as the book’s first chapter and expands into a graphic novel with short stories about these vibrant and relatable new characters.
In expanding the story of Kim and her friends, the authors pay tribute to Black sisterhood through portraits of shared, yet deeply personal experiences of Black hair care. From self-care to spilling the tea at an hours-long salon appointment to healing family rifts, the stories are brought to life through beautifully drawn characters and different color palettes reflecting the mood in each story.
So, I love, love this graphic novel. I love the illustrations with the different types of natural hair we have. The texture, the complexities of taking care of our hair, and yes, how sometimes it does take a day to get it just the way we want. Wash days are a large part of us. They can be easy and/or hard. They can take all day, or half a day, if you’re getting braids, it’s an event packed in with a movie session. These natural coils may frustrate us or bring us joy, there are tears, and sometimes laughs. It’s a day that pushes very personal buttons, and I love how this graphic novel touches on subjects like depression, mental health and relationships. Because washday is that day that will pull and tug at what is going on in our lives.
All plans do gotta stop, take time and revitalize. I wish this book was longer, but mostly, I loved the representation. I felt seen and acknowledged in a comic, which is awesome.