Humphrey Osoro – Comic Artist & Graphic Designer in Kenya

Are you curious about what it’s like to be a Comic Artist and Graphic designer in Kenya?

I’m excited to feature Humphrey Osoro who fits both of these titles. There was a time I thought I’d try to be a comic artist ( manga-ka – CLAMP had inspired me at the time) but the drawing talent was missing and I definitely prefer to read them.

So, I’m beyond excited to present this interview from Humphrey who has worked to realize the dream for himself. I hope his answers inspire even more comic artists in Kenya.

Q. Who is Humphrey Osoro?

A; I’m a comic artist and graphic designer based in Kenya. I make comics on the side and do my graphic design work as my day job. I’m a simple guy really, I love anything comics. Anything that tells stories just gets my attention: whether it’s movies, a good book or even a good work of art.

Q. So, why comics?

A. Growing up, I dabbled a lot in traditional art forms and in creative writing/storytelling. Once I got good at both, I wanted something that could combine the two and comics did that for me. Comics allowed me to combine my artistic side with my writer side. I was now able to use my art to tell an actual written story and since then I’ve been hooked on it.

Q. What’s your inspiration?

A; My main inspirations are guys like Jason Brubacker (author and artist of RE-mind webcomic), Tim Bradstreet (Punisher comic covers) and writers like Elaine Kamari in Kenya (Her blog is “Elly in Nairobi”). (EK dances like a fan girl at the mention). All these people push me to keep improving and work that much harder at my craft

Q. You’re a Comic Artist.  What is it like establishing yourself in Kenya?

A; Being a Comic Artist here in Kenya is very different from another Country like let’s say Japan. Over there, they have Otaku Culture, which is this strong following around their manga (Japanese comics) and anime artwork. It’s a little easier to kick off a career as a comic artist and all this is possible because people are aware of what manga art is and they appreciate the value of it. Those guys are basically rock stars in the art world in Japan. Japanese – owned companies like Viz Media who run “Shonen jump” and many others have capitalized on this and they sponsor these artists. They also give new upcoming artists opportunities in their magazines by running their work in black & white, only giving them coloured runs when they prove successful with the masses. This system works very well there, the artist gets paid his due, people get to read good content, everyone’s happy.

In Kenya, the picture is a little different. It’s harder to establish yourself here. Comics just started getting popular recently, so not many people even knew what they were. Some can’t tell the difference between a comic book and a cartoon strip in the editorial newspaper, so it’s a bit of an uphill task trying to explain what it is you’re making. Most really just think that comics are meant for kids, which isn’t the case. Comics these days are more targeted at adult themes like crime, passion etc. They address such a wide variety of topics as opposed to a few years ago when they were exclusively limited to children’s themes. It’s the younger generation that grew up watching these cartoons on TV, like myself, who make up the bulk of the current comic readers and artists. These people are the ones who appreciate the true value of comics. They recognize that comics are like movies, just in picture form. These are the readers that give me hope that the industry is heading in the right direction.


Giving up gets you nowhere. People will eventually start taking notice of you if you stick around long enough. You’ll start getting calls and gigs you never thought you’d get. The beauty of it is, not everyone has the patience to make a comic, so count yourself lucky, they’ll look for you specifically. So hold on, keep cranking out some art!

H. OSoro

Establishing oneself as a comic artist here in Kenya is a bit of an uphill task, though once you do, it’s really rewarding. You really have to be patient as it doesn’t happen in a day. Anyone willing to take on this behemoth of a task should be willing to take the untraveled path. If you’re an introvert like me, then be prepared to polish up those people skills. You’ll have to hit the ground running, reach out to other comic artists in the industry, learn from them but don’t expect too much from them (They’re also struggling as much as you are, just at a different level). In short, its a labour of love, you do it because you love the craft, money will follow in spades.

Speaking of money, don’t quit your day job just yet. Because no one knows who you are, chances are no one will be willing to give you any commission. Most of the Kenyan mindset is of the opinion that western stuff is better than the locals, which is true, but only because those guys got a chance to shine. They were all beginners like us, it’s just that someone listened. If you don’t aggressively market yourself, you’ll never get anywhere here. Prepare to be ignored online, receive cold stares when you make proposals and many more of the stuff I can rattle off the top of my head.

But, its not all gloom, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Get inspired by other people when you’re down. I recommend reading Elaine Kamari’s post on Self Publishing here in Kenya in her blog “Elly In Nairobi”. Everything was so much clearer and easier after reading that, so give it a chance. Giving up gets you nowhere. People will eventually start taking notice of you if you stick around long enough. You’ll start getting calls and gigs you never thought you’d get. The beauty of it is, not everyone has the patience to make a comic, so count yourself lucky, they’ll look for you specifically. So hold on, keep cranking out some art!

Q – The first 30 pages of your comic, The Unaffected Resolve- Chapter 1 are released at 254Comics.com.  Will you release Volume 2 at 254comics too?

A; Yes, definitely! The book is actually more than just those 30 pages, I released those because they were the ones already done in colour. It’s actually 114 pages long. Yeah, I know. That’s a LOT of pages. Well, when I began making the book, I decided I would create the thing until I finished the whole of Chapter 1. I’ve written dozens of scripts for “The Unaffected Resolve”, they’re a total of 11 Chapters for the first story arch. Each script has more than 24 pages of words in it, which in a comic made up of pictures and those words translates to almost 100 pages. 100 is the magic number because I’m targeting at creating a true graphic novel of “Resolve”. Each Chapter will have at least 100 pages so that at long last they can be compiled together into a 500-page graphic novel. My inspiration is the likes of Graphic novels like “Akira” in Japan. Now that one has 600 plus pages!

Right now, this comic book is finished, though in black and white. I’ll release the rest slowly as I keep colouring but you can head over to 254comics and read the first 30 pages in all its full colour glory. Stand by for a review of the book here by Ellie, It’ll be a detailed review of all 114 pages so for those who want to get an idea about it, stay posted right here. Though here’s some bonus art for Chapter 2 that’s currently in the kitchen! Completely reworked art-style for chapter 2!

H. Osoro Art – Unaffected Resolve – Chapter 2

Q. You’re also an illustrator, what type of commissions have you taken on since your start?

A; I’ve done so many of them so far. I used to dabble in the traditional pen and paper collisions whereby someone wanted a hand-drawn piece. I still do them but only exclusively because of how taxing they are.

I also did a lot of painting on canvas for clients and friends. These were really enjoyable, seeing a mess of colours come together into a nice final piece of art is just so satisfying.


I also do book illustrations. I’ve worked with publishing companies mainly on children’s illustrations. These are done digitally and require a completely different kind of art style. My style is usually highly detailed and complex, so having to make them simple was a nice fresh change for me.

H. Osoro

I also do book illustrations. I’ve worked with publishing companies mainly on children’s illustrations. These are done digitally and require a completely different kind of art style. My style is usually highly detailed and complex, so having to make them simple was a nice fresh change for me. I do these in a cartoony kind of style that will appeal to the kids. The biggest book illustration project had me handling 65 coloured pages. I was able to crank out 10 pages a day at the time so within a week I was done. It was challenging but it taught me a lot about sticking to deadlines.

I’ve also handled logo design, business cards, banners, strips, posters and other stuff relating to Graphic Design. I’m a Graphic Designer by profession at the Nation Media Group at the moment, so I do the normal graphic stuff like making advertisements, proposals, posters etc. It’s been an eye opener on what it really takes to be a good Graphic designer. So anyone looking to be an effective Graphic designer, try applying there and see if you’ll get lucky. The deadlines and pressures at work really prepare you for when you have to deal with clients in your illustration hustle. Overall, it’s the illustration type of logos and designs that really pique my interest. I find these make full use of my talents as a human being. I get to combine both Graphic Design and my love for illustration.

H. Osoro art

I can say that as long as I can remember, I’ve been doing comics since the beginning. I did them for my high school magazine back at “Friend’s School Kamusinga“. It was a piece called “Demolishon” that addresses many of the negative vices in society. I still do it today, so make sure to check out my Facebook page & other media platforms. I finally undertook a personal project to create my own comic book back in 2017. It’s called “The Unaffected Resolve”, go check it out at 254comics.com. There’s nothing more I enjoy like making comics, it’s like seeing a movie in your mind and your hands are there to translate that to paper.

In comics, I’ve done comic pages for a couple of clients that I really can’t name due to non-disclosure agreements. I also offer some of those comic book services to fellow artists whereby I do inking of your basic sketches and colour them for you at an agreed fee. A good example of this, is a good friend of mine, he’s called “Kimzy Flimzy” on Facebook, go check out his art. We collaborate on a couple of gigs when he’s really busy and I step in to help out so we can beat the deadlines, so big thanks to you bro if you’re reading this!

Q. What is your creative process like?  Do you have a favorite spot where you must work?  Or a favorite pen?

A; My creative process is simple. It usually starts out with me just closing my eyes and playing out a movie in my mind. I see the characters, I see them alive, breathing , talking and moving about. From here when I grab my pen to sketch them out it’s easier from there.

When I’m down on creative gas, I just put everything down and let loose. Play a computer game on my PlayStation, ride my bike on a mountain run in my area because there’s so many cycling trails over here or just get down and do some exercise.

My favourite pen is the good old blue “Bic” pen. The ones we all used in high school and campus. I was that kid that looked like he was paying attention but if you looked closely, you’d always find me sketching. I sketch everyday. I found that by doing this, I was able to master movement of my characters by not being too rigid in my drawing approach. So yeah, get a trusty pen, doesn’t need to be blue like mine!

Q. What would you say to aspiring comic artists and illustrators in Kenya?

A; First, nothing comes easy. You want to be a comic artist? Then be prepared to be a jack of all trades because if you only know one thing, then chances are you won’t succeed. Take the time to learn other forms of traditional art, learn the basics of proportion, colouring and more. All these will apply at some point when you’re working on your book.

Second, consider learning some basic Graphic Design. You ask, “Why?” Well, because comics are essentially picture books at the end of the day. This will equip you with knowledge on layout, formatting of your book since chances are no one around you knows how to format a comic book. (The dimensions of a comic are different from your average book on the shelf.)


First, just have your comic ready. Finish it. At least in Black & White because you need to have something to put in front of your potential readers. From here, market the hell out of your book through various channels available such as blogs, social media platforms etc.

H. Osoro
H. Osoro art

Third, be assured it’ll take some time before you get your name out there. First, just have your comic ready. Finish it. At least in Black & White because you need to have something to put in front of your potential readers. From here, market the hell out of your book through various channels available such as blogs, social media platforms etc.

I could go on and on but at the end of the day it depends on you. How badly do you want to tell your story? Because I know you didn’t get into comics to just make money, you had this story in your head you wanted to share with the world. You do it because you love the craft, even when you’re paid peanuts. Now that’s true passion right there. I know I did, so what about you?

Connect with Humphrey

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Facebook: @Humphrey Osoro

Read The Unaffected Resolve – Chapter 1

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Where to start – Self-Publishing or Traditional Publishing in Kenya?


Self-Publishing is a great word in Nairobi!

ellyinnairobi.com

A reader sent me a message and told me, ‘ I have a THING for words.. I have been low-key writing for a while now, and I think its time the world gets a piece of my taste and style.’

Inspired words if I ever heard any! They have me making a post on this blog when I’ve been low-key M.I.A, and zoning in the land of uninspired-let’s- Netflix ‘n’ Chill-mode. So, thank you! Elias, for getting me thinking.

That message followed up with a question. Where do I start? What do I do next? My answer is, ‘Arm yourself with information.‘ There are two roads in this: Traditional Publishing Road and Self- Publishing Road.

Each one has it’s own set of intimidating challenges, but you’re in this now, don’t back out now. Let’s arm you with information instead, and you’ll know what your options are.

What is the Traditional Publishing Road?

Traditional publishing includes getting your book published by an existing Publishing House, either Local or International. Please note that each publishing house has a set of guidelines on the type of content it publishes. It is important to know what type of books a particular publishing house is producing before you think of sending your manuscript over. Knowing saves you a rejection before you even start.

Here are examples of Publishers that are based in Kenya:

Storymoja Publishers


Storymoja Publishers is a creative Kenyan publishing company with a wide variety of authentic African children storybooks. We publish curriculum books, career resources and revision books.

East African Publishers – They are really my favorite as they write out a complete guide for your submission and what to expect. Please note the types of books they publish listed on the side.


Every manuscript that is sent requires a minimum of twelve weeks to be properly assessed and evaluated. After a manuscript is assessed, the author may be sent (a) written report(s), or be requested to appear at our editorial offices for a verbal discussion on the work, or be asked to react in writing to the report(s)

Moran Publishers – This site also has clear directions on how to submit your work for consideration. Moran Publishers have made available to you a Publishing Proposal PDF that you can download and fill out.


Send us an email on info@moranpublishers.co.ke and our editorial team will advise you on the next steps.

There are loads more not mentioned above. Do your research and get to know them. To note, Traditional Publishing in Kenya is very heavy on education and storybooks for young children and schools. Creation of set books, and etc. If you’re thinking of publishing poetry and fiction novels, your life will be full of interesting experiences. Be prepared for it.

To boost your chances on your journey into Traditional Publishing, you can also send out queries to a Literary Agent. I will be honest and let you know that Kenya is sorely lacking access to these. (Here’s a call out to genuine literary agents willing to work with Kenyans, please set up shop already. Kenya is eager. ) The few I’ve heard about led to horror stories of being paid before they read your work, with no guarantee of publishing. Ouch! However, here is some hopeful information on Literary Agents from Kenyan Writer Alexander Nderitu.

Why is Traditional Publishing so Attractive?

The idea that you write your manuscript, send it to a publisher and if they like and accept it, they will pour their considerable resources into marketing your manuscript, with no effort or little effort from you. Acknowledge that, Traditional Publishers have access to wide networks of brick and mortar bookshops, readers in schools and institutions, and know market trends better than anyone. So yeah, they are an attractive ideal. You need to work hard as ever to make your manuscript remotely attractive for consideration. Deal with it! That’s not going away.

Every time I write about Traditional Publishing in Kenya I get annoyed, because it feels like one big mass of #askweio123. Yes, they don’t make it easy here. So, let’s move on to the next road.

What is the Self-Publishing Road?

The first thing I told you here is ‘Arm yourself with information’. Why? The writers I know have all chosen this road, and have gotten results by learning how to do this right. We shall start with Digital Publishing, as it seems to most, to cost the least. Truth is, cost is relative! Your product is only as good as what you’re willing to put into it.

Digital Publishing includes selling e-books in different formats like PDFs, epubs for adobe editions, .mobi for kindle, and formats accessible by Apple products among others. It is the most attractive form of self-publishing as it places control in the hands of the author.

An author who understands that their work is a product, and therefore needs customers, excels in this form of digital publishing. Let me give you an example: I love examples, don’t you? No…oh, well, here is a good one for you anyway.

Writer A

Genre: Writes from the heart

Blog: – Doesn’t like to share content, so hasn’t tried blogging

Social: – Facebook sucks, Instagram is for kids, Trump rules Twitter, it’s not for me. What’s LinkedIn?

Dream: I want to publish and be known for writing books.

Writer B

Genre: Fiction, (Mysteries, Thrillers)

Blog: writerB.blog

Social: Facebook -@writerb (1,000 follows), Instagram- @writerb254 (558follows), Twitter-@writerBwhowrites (900 follows), LinkedIn – Author Writer B (200 connects)

Dream – Sell 100 copies of 70k word book.

Who do you think will sell more books? Writer A or Writer B?

Answer: Writer B

This is the reality of life today! You need to build a community around your work, as an Author, an Artist, a Musician, a business person, well I’m talking to Authors mostly, so I hope you get what I’m trying to say. It’s hard work to even get the numbers under Writer B’s social follow. After which you need to keep up content that’s engaging enough to keep your follows, and have those follows interested in your work. (Don’t buy the follows, really that’s so 2017!) When you have them good and interested, drop your book for sale in all it’s available forms and watch some magic happen. You might sell 25 in the first week, then you continue the grind of selling until you hit 100 copies sold. All this on a really good day! Digital Publishing cost you time, serious editing costs and an attractive cover. (Yes, you need to invest time in editing. Seriously!)

Or, you can print your books!

Self-Publishing is a great word in Kenya. You can provide your book in both digital forms and actual books. In Kenya, this depends on your resources, cash wise. As I’ve mentioned before, printers come in all shapes and sizes. (The example mentioned in the link works for fiction books too.) Each Printer has their own requirements, please take the time to discover which printer will fit your needs best. You can choose to print 10 books of your poetry and/or fiction book or 1000 copies. After you print the book, your job now is to find customers to buy your books. Like Writer B, the wider your network, the more customers you gain, the more books you sell. Be a social bee, a busy bee.

The challenge, find time in all your busy-ness to write your next book.

A Note on Digital Publishing Platforms like Amazon and Smashwords.

I am a BIG fan of Do-it-Yourself. I mean that, even at home, you know when kids write on the wall with permanent markers and every adult is having a blowout. I don’t worry. You know why? I’m very capable with a brush and paint. That wall will look as good as new with the right paint. Simply keep the paint handy at home…the writing on the wall will disappear. Hahaha

Now, when I hear scandals about people who got their books put on Amazon for them and they have no access, I wonder why it’s even happening. You, starting out author, you, Amazon’s KDP has pages long of information on how to publish with them. Take the time to read, and learn. Please, Please Arm yourself with information. Smashwords.com even has a How to book you can download for free to get started. Don’t allow yourself to be a victim when there is no need.

Learn how to do it, if it’s something you want to do. Take the time to learn.

Once you’re armed with information you will be able to make the right choice for you and your work.

Life on the Fast Track – 11

Track 11 – What does a Snitch look like?

Back at his garage, Danny filled out release forms on a Mitsubishi Pajero SUV and handed the keys back to the woman who had brought it in.

“Come again, Mrs. Mueni,” he said, watching her get into the driver’s seat with a wide smile and drive off.

Happy customers, Danny thought.  He worked on impressing women like Mrs. Mueni.  She had a strong presence in the community, and all the women in her chamas ended up at his garage for service.

Stretching his arms up, to ease tense muscles, Danny turned back to the main floor of the garage and frowned.  His gaze moving from one mechanic to another.  The garage ran with the help of three major mechanics.

Danny respected all three guys, knew their families, their circumstances.  He would hate to imagine one of them was working for Anderson.

Dropping his arms, Danny glanced at the young man to his closest left.  His name was Teron Kitonyi.  Teron was fresh out of high school.  He had a head for mechanics.  Problem was, academics gave him hell.  Danny had offered him jobs on and off during his last two years of high school.  He hadn’t hesitated when Teron came seeking a place at the garage after his final exams.  Danny considered the kid an apprentice with a bright future ahead.

Next to Teron, working on rear shock absorbers on a two-seater, was Steven.  The man was over forty, had been a mechanic all his life.  Steven was a hard worker, didn’t complain, more like he didn’t talk much, but Danny liked the guy.  He was dependable.

Danny turned at the sound of the undercoating spray gun coming to life.

Auto-Ford-Phoenix-n-Fire-5
Photo Courtesy of paz.co.za

Holding it was Karie.  The man was a genius with paint and bodywork.  Karie loved to get a car looking good again.  He was fun to work with, fun to hang with, and a great friend.

Danny sighed, his mood plummeting.  This was Anderson’s fault, forcing him to suspect his crew, and turning him into a paranoid fool.

“Danny,” Jimmy called from the garage office, pulling him out of his thoughts.

“What’s up?” Danny asked, entering their main office and closing the door.

Jimmy held out the office phone.

“Anderson for you,” Jimmy said, when Danny took it with a frown.

Bringing the handset to his ear, Danny bit back a curse.

“Yes.”

“I hear you’re cutting me out,” Anderson said in greeting.

“From who?” Danny asked, stepping up to the door glass to look out into the main floor.  All his mechanics were busy working, none of them looked at him with interest.  Still his paranoia grew.

“Your sister is a firecracker,” Anderson said, making Danny close his eyes in exasperation.  “She doesn’t beat around the bush.”

Teresa was going to be the end of him.

“Leave my family out of this,” Danny warned.  “If you have issues, they are with me.  If you want to talk, you know where to find me.”

“Come on Danny.  I don’t want trouble either.  I just want to know why you want to cut me out of a good thing.”

“Call it protecting my interests.  Teresa is a large part of those interests,” Danny said.  “Do you have a problem?”

Silence greeted him and for a second, Danny thought the call disconnected.

Then Anderson sighed.

“Nope.”

“Good.  Let’s end it there,” Danny ended the call and met Jimmy’s gaze.  “Get someone to hang out at Terry’s place twenty-four/seven.”

“I can do it,” Jimmy said, a frown creasing his forehead.

“I need you free, and here at the garage,” Danny said.  “Maybe we can ask the guys from the dry cleaner next to her shop.  You’re buddies with them, right?”

Jimmy nodded.  “Good idea.  This is getting serious, Danny.  We need to deal with Anderson.”

“He hasn’t really done anything, yet,” Danny said, scratching his jaw.  “I’m going to meet the Sumani Chicks, Nic Mugera and Mikhail tonight.  Maybe one of them will have a plan.”

Danny placed the phone back on the desk and sat on the closest chair.  A meeting with the round table meant he wouldn’t get to see Jasmine tonight.

“Do me a favor,” Danny said, looking at Jimmy.  “Get Terry to go sleep over Jazz’s house.  Just in case.”

“Worried Anderson might try something?” Jimmy asked.

“I know he will,” Danny sighed.  “Shit this is going to be a mess.  We need to catch that snitch fast.”

“We will,” Jimmy said, his tone hard.  “Soon enough, then we can put that good for nothing out of our lives.”

***

Thanks for reading…To be continued!

←Previous Track

The Girl with the Golden Smile – 2

Prompt: mail.google.com2

Use “Chocolate Cupcakes” in your 1,000 word story this time.

The Girl with the Golden Smile – 2

Wewe,” Nicholas said when he got out of his car. “Do you have a death wish?”

The woman in the rain didn’t speak. Her face was bruised, and there was blood on her pink blouse. Nicholas frowned, peering into the dark trees on each side of the road.

Had she been mugged?

Lord, was she a decoy?

He’d heard stories of hijackers making a plot to deceive unsuspecting drivers.

“Help me,” she said, before his paranoia could take root.

Nicholas cursed when she started to fall and he reached out to catch her before she hit the muddy ground.

“What the hell are you doing?” Nicholas asked as he drove through the rain.

His clothes were soaked and muddy thanks to the passed out woman in the passenger seat. Instead of driving back to the main road, and a hospital, he was headed to the villa, against his better judgment.

Shaking his head, Nicholas decided it was the rain. The thunder, the mud, the fucking non-visibility…he’d never been happier to see the shadow of a house as he was when he saw looming dark gates ahead.

Nicholas stopped his car, running out in the rain to go open the gates. His loafers slid on the grass, he ran back to the car, double soaked. This night was turning into a shit fest.

Thirty minutes later, Nicholas sat on an old armchair, watching the strange woman he’d saved. He’d found an old faded red blanket in a closet, and covered her with it. She was beautiful, in a rustic sort of way. He was used to women who valued looks: high-end style, down to fake eyelashes. It was interesting to have saved a woman who looked like she didn’t know what lip gloss was. She shivered under the blanket, and gave a soft sigh.

The bruise on her left cheek shone in the light.

His phone buzzed, and he reached for it like it was a lifeline.

“What am I reading?” his best friend asked. “You have a woman in that old creaky house? How is that a bad thing?”

“She jumped out of nowhere, in the rain,” Nicholas said. “She looks beat up. She has a bruise on her cheek.”

“Why didn’t you drive to the hospital?” Eli asked.

“It’s raining.” Nicholas thought that excuse sounded hollow, but it was the truth. He didn’t want to drive in that mess outside. “You’re a doctor, advise me what to do.”

“Ah ha,” Eli said with a chuckle. “You’ve always been impulsive. This falls under shit Nick would do.”

“Stop making fun of me. What do I do now? It’s almost ten o’clock at night.”

Eli sighed on the other end. “I guess you keep her overnight. I’ll drive out there in the morning and check on her if you like.”

“Would you?” Nicholas asked. “You’re the best, Eli.”

“You’ll owe me.”

“Yeah, add it to my tab.” Nicholas sighed. “What do I need to do? She’s shivering.”

“Keep her dry and warm.” Eli laughed. “That shouldn’t be too hard.”

Nicholas ended the call and dropped his cell phone on the table. He hoped Eli was right about keeping the woman dry.

That was all he could do for her, he thought.

Getting up, Nicholas stretched his arms above his head, the muscles on his shoulders protesting. He was tired. The day was too long already. He dropped his hands and looked around the old house. The electricity was on, thank goodness for that. Despite the complication on the couch, he’d managed to purchase a damn good looking house.
Nicholas decided everything would be fine after a shower and a good night’s sleep.

****

Nalia woke with a start. It was the chirping birds. The last time she’d heard chirping birds, she’d been in her mother’s house in the country. Nostalgia filled her, and she lay still staring at the unfamiliar ceiling.

Clutching the thin blanket over her, Nalia winced at the familiar sting on her left cheek. Malik’s gift last night when she’d tried to explain why there was no meat in his plate. The bastard was obsessed with meat. He didn’t taste anything else, but meat. Nalia sat up to escape her anger.

She’d lost her mind last night.

Crazy, she thought.

She’d taken the stew she’d been cooking and flung it at Malik in anger. When he’d screamed in shock, she’d run outside in Art 5the pouring rain and started running.
Right into the angry man with the black pickup truck, Nalia remembered, swinging her feet to the ground.

Nalia shook her head, and rubbed her eyes. She sighed and got up, looking around the elegant living room. It looked straight out of the movies, nice neat chairs, wide windows, everything seemed so…expensive.

Straight out of her dreams, Nalia sighed.

Her gaze dropped to her stained shirt, and her muddy jeans and bare feet. She was seriously out of place. Her insanity had taken her down a rabbit hole she didn’t quite understand.

Smelling her shirt, she decided to wander, and find out if the elegant house had a place to clean up before she met her rescuer.

****

The sweet scent of baking cake woke Nicholas. His stomach rumbled; reminding him he’d skipped dinner in lieu of travel. He’d eaten one sandwich before he’d gotten on the road. He threw off the sweater he’d used as a blanket and got out of bed.

His clothes were dry and wrinkled. He needed to get his suitcase from the car.
Remembering the woman he’d rescued in the pouring rain, Nicholas left the bedroom and followed the scent of baking. His stomach felt empty, it was humbling, the need to run into the kitchen and get a bite of whatever smelled that good.

He paused in the entrance to the kitchen at the sight that greeted him. Chocolate cupcakes on the counter, the source of the scent, they looked welcoming. Nicholas grinned and walked to the counter, reaching for a cupcake. He stopped when the woman he’d saved last night straightened, closing the electric oven, she was holding a fresh batch of chocolate cupcakes.

She held back a gasp, and he stared at her clean, freshly scrubbed face. A slow smile tugged her lips and she held out the cupcakes she held.

“Morning,” she said. “I’m Nalia. I hope you like chocolate.”

***

The Girl with the Golden Smile 1

****

Read other EA Friday Feature Posts:

The Birthday Killer

You’ll Hear from Me

EA Friday Feature Week #4 Prompt

The EA Friday Feature:

Friday Feature1

Write a story of only 1,000 words using the prompt given.  Post it on your blog on Fridays and share the posts of fellow bloggers participating in the feature.

Participating Bloggers:

  1. Nilichoandika
  2. Flashes of Vice
  3. Children of Destiny Books
  4. Love in Nairobi

Week #4

mail.google.com2

Use “Chocolate Cupcakes” in your 1,000 word story this time.

The story is due on Friday, 28th August, 2015. 

This is an open entry Feature.  If you’d like to participate, simply write the 1,000 word story using the prompt, and leave a comment on this post to let us know to share your story.

Week #3 EA Friday Feature Responses

1. Father’s Love

2. The Man in the Rain

3. The Girl with the Golden Smile-1

The Girl with the Golden Smile – 1

Friday Feature1Prompt:

Rain, Rain, Rain: mail.google.com

The Girl with the Golden Smile

Thunder rumbled, dark clouds rolled in, large drops of rain drummed the iron sheet roof.
Nalia wondered if the creator was starting a band. The drops kept falling in fierce beats on the roof, like a doomsday rhythm.

She kept chopping onions, her eyes stinging. Tears slid down her cheeks.

Nalia wasn’t sure where the tears from the onions juice and the ones caused by sorrow met and melded.
Wiping her arm over her cheeks she finished chopping the onions and put them in the cooking pot. Adding oil, she turned on the fire on the gas cooker and banged the pot on the stand.

No one could hear the noise anyway.

Taking a wooden cooking spoon from a drawer, her gaze lingered over the chopped vegetables laid out in bowls on the counter. Carrots, potatoes, green pepper, cilantro and tomatoes…she sighed.

There was no meat today.

He wasn’t going to be happy.

Nalia shrugged a short elegant movement of her slender shoulders. Yet, instead of relief, a heavy weight settled in her stomach.

Malik liked his meat.

The onions started sizzling in the pot and she stirred them, her gaze barely seeing the browning onions. Her thoughts were on her husband, Malik Kanda. They married early.  She’d been eighteen, Malik twenty.

Children really, none of them had known much about life then.

Seven years going and Malik had turned into a stranger. He’d grown distrustful, edgy and over-ambitious.

It was his new job, Nalia thought.

The one he’d gotten a year ago.

Malik was managing a construction company for her uncle. The job paid good money. Her uncle had told her Malik was paid almost sixty thousand shillings every month. Twice the amount he’d gotten before.  She’d been happy for Malik then, thinking their home would grow, benefit from the good fortune.  But no, their lives were deteriorating. The money had gone to Malik’s head, making him prideful. He paid for nothing in the house.

Nalia sighed and started adding vegetables to the onions. The peppers first, then the tomatoes, followed by the carrots and potatoes.

“What to do?” she asked the sizzling vegetables.

Reaching for a container of mixed spices, Nalia sprinkled the right amount over the mix in the cooking pot.
Her thoughts returned to her latest dilemma.  Malik’s indifference to the well-being of their house worried her. He never had money to contribute to their expenses, yet he wanted to eat and sleep in comfort. He wanted neat clothes in his closet, good food and a clean house.

Her funds were stretched.

She was a primary school teacher. She taught English in class six at the local primary school. Her salary was a quarter of what Malik made. Yet she paid rent, the house bills, water and electricity as well as bought food for the house.
The end of the month was pure hell. She could barely afford things in the house yet Malik’s standards had to be met.
Covering the stew, Nalia picked up the plates and spoons she’d set aside earlier. She went to their small living room and started setting the small table they used for dinner.

There was no meat today.

Nalia’s hand shook as she placed a spoon on Malik’s plate.

Thunder rumbled in the distance and she pressed a hand to her chest.  She didn’t want a beating tonight, but the harder it rained, the more the rain rapped on the roof, the faster her hopes vanished.

Malik’s bad temper thrived on nights like these…rainy nights when no one would hear her scream.

The front door opened and she froze, her gaze flying to the man entering the house. He was soaking wet.
Malik slammed the door closed and Nalia’s heart squeezed tight in her chest. The moment his dark gaze settled on her, her blood ran cold.

****

“Damn it.”

Nicholas slapped the steering wheel and peered out the windshield of his car. He couldn’t see in the thick rain. For a moment he wondered if pulling over was better. At least then, he’d be sure of not taking a wrong turn.
The wipers on his black Isuzu pickup worked overtime, trying to keep the windshield clear.

The clock on the dashboard said it was almost nine o’clock in the evening. The map on his phone said he had thirty more minutes before he would arrive at the Villa Matiga. The sixty year old house he’d bought from a retiring expatriate. He wanted to renovate the villa and put it up for rent. His third jaunt into the real estate industry. So far, he hadn’t gone wrong, but this late night trips were murder.

“I should have started out earlier,” he murmured.

He was a lawyer by profession and worked for a successful law firm in the city of Nairobi. The pay was good the lifestyle exhausting, but he was happy. At thirty-two, his life was on the right track.  To a point, he thought when he remembered his girlfriend had gotten married a week ago to one of his wealthy clients.

The bitch, he thought.

She’d strung him a long for three whole years while she worked hard to hook a bigger fish. She was now a Runda estate housewife. Nicholas couldn’t help hoping she got fat and ugly soon. He cursed under his breath.

She’d turned him into a bitter bastard.

He drove over a bump too fast. The map on his phone said he needed to make a right turn soon, but where?  Peering outside, he frowned when all he saw were trees and bushes.

Great, Villa Martiga had to exist in the middle of nowhere.

Well, it wasn’t really nowhere; the Ngong area was turning into a prestigious area to live.

He braked hard when the dirt road he was supposed to take appeared to the right.  Thank God there were no vehicles behind him. He was driving like a maniac tonight. Taking the right turn, excitement swept through him and he pressed the gas pedal harder, eager for warmth.  A dark shadow streaked onto the road, and he hit the brakes in panic, afraid he was going to hit the woman ahead.

Read other EA Friday Feature Entries;

  1. Father’s Love
  2. The Man in the Rain

EA Friday Feature – Prompt Week #3

The EA Friday Feature:

Friday Feature1Write a story of only 1,000 words using the prompt given.  Post it on your blog on Fridays and share the posts of fellow bloggers participating in the feature.

Participating Bloggers:

  1. Nilichoandika
  2. Flashes of Vice
  3. Children of Destiny Books
  4. Love in Nairobi

Week #3 Prompt:

mail.google.com

Rain, Rain, Rain….be inspired by the rain…

The story is due on Friday, 21st August, 2015. 

This is an open entry Feature.  If you’d like to participate, simply write the 1,000 word story using the prompt, and leave a comment on this post to let us know to share your story.

Last week’s prompts responses:

  1. Sex on the beach
  2. My Favorite Place to Be
  3. It’s not all Strippers and Burritos my Friend
  4. The Changing Tide