Zev’s Afrotheria – Chapter 4

It’s Fiction Friday. Zev’s Afrotheria is up to Chapter 4. I feel like I’m moving slow with this one, but still excited about the progress.

Do you prefer reading on an app? You can find Zev’s Afrotheria on wattpad.com too. Find the link below.

Belonging – Review

Belonging by Christine Warugaba

Published by Furaha Publishers, based in Kigali, Rwanda. This book is available in March 2022. I received an Advanced Review Copy from C. Warugaba.

Summary

Belonging by Christine Warugaba is about Keza Rugamba, who was born in Kampala, Uganda to parents originating from Rwanda.  Their tribe is Tutsi and her parents fled Rwanda to escape the genocide of the Tutsi in the early 1960s. Keza grows up in Kampala, Uganda amidst the background of a military regime marked by raids in their home, and deadly robberies that stole her uncle’s life.  Despite the chaos, Keza’s family lives a relatively peaceful life and she completes her primary and high school education.

Two years before Keza’s high school graduation, Rwanda endures a tumultuous period, and soon after welcomes the restoration of peace.  A peaceful Rwanda has Keza’s father thinking of a return to their homeland.  However, Keza’s mother is traumatized by the loss of their extended family and is unwilling to return, so they remain in Kampala. In contrast, Keza’s Aunt Stella, her mother’s sister, makes the decision to return to Kigali, Rwanda.

Fresh out of high school, Keza begs her mother’s permission to go along with her Aunt Stella to see their homeland.  To her mother’s surprise, Keza insists on attending university in Rwanda.  Keza arrives in Kigali to live with her Aunt Stella and attend med school at the National University of Rwanda.

Belonging is a
Conversation Starter

ellyinnairobi.com

Rwanda soon becomes Keza’s second home. In a reflective moment, between holiday visits to see her parents in Kampala, Keza wonders, “Where is home?”

When Keza completes her university, she applies for and wins a green card.  A new adventure in a foreign country begins when Keza lands in New York. She finds herself working to survive a fast-paced, alien-biased world.  She is a qualified doctor in Rwanda, but in the United States, she needs to return to school and qualify for an American Medical License.

She works odd jobs to help meet basic needs and afford her new life in New York.  Keza almost drowns in the tedium of shift jobs, paying rent and upkeep, while studying for her medical license examinations.  She catches a break when she lands a job working at a weight-loss clinic in New York and gains a Kenyan friend and boss who does understand her struggle.  Keza strikes a work/school life balance as she works at the Makena Clinic.  She remains at the clinic for six years before she is disillusioned by the American Dream, and she finally decides to return to Kigali with a new dream, starting her own business.

The moment Keza lands in Kigali, her cousin Ivan warns her that Aunt Stella will make it a mission to get Keza married.  True to Ivan’s prediction, Aunt Stella embarks on a full campaign to get Keza married, which includes prayers and fasting.  Despite Aunt Stella’s obvious efforts, Keza starts a sincere journey to solidify her roots and create something belonging to her.

Thoughts

Belonging as a novel illustrates a quest to find a home.

Keza is in search of a place she can truly call hers.  She carries on her shoulders a difficult past faced by her ancestors: her parents, grandparents, and relatives in her Tutsi tribe. Because of this past, and an initial loss of her homeland, Keza becomes a woman forged by three distinct cultures from three different countries: Uganda, Rwanda, and the Western world.

She is highly educated.  Thanks to the experiences she faced in each world, she becomes intensely hardworking and independent.  By the time she is landing in Kigali, her mind is set on a specific goal, that is, building a successful business.  A goal she finds difficult to push aside to accommodate her aunt’s search for a husband for her.

At every step, Keza’s family remains supportive.  From her steadfast Aunt Stella who gives Keza unconditional love and support, marriage plans aside. To her cousins and nieces who help Keza when she is at her lowest and in grief.  They also celebrate with her during her highest moments.

Belonging does showcase impact points meant to start a larger conversation. The most prominent point speaks on the weight of traditional expectations concerning marriage beset on African women’s shoulders.  No matter the extent of their education or accomplishment.

Aunt Stella’s quest to get Keza married before she turns forty serves as a perfect example of this expectation.  In sharp contrast, Aunt Stella does not show the same desperate concern for her own son.  Her quest climaxes in a party with a house full of bachelors so that Keza may try to find someone who sparks her interests.  Aunt Stella’s desperation and concern for Keza’s marriage leads to health problems caused by constant fasting.  Concern for her aunt’s health forces Keza to the extreme idea of getting a fake boyfriend.

It was probably the only way Keza was going to meet someone. The experiences Keza lives through forge her character and her ultimate goals. The events of her life give her the strength to build a successful business in Kigali.  They also make her opinion on marriage different from Aunt Stella’s. I do appreciate the fact that in the end, these life experiences help Keza choose a partner who is right for her, on her own terms.

Belonging unfolds in the form of flashbacks at the start.  Much of the first part of the novel is told in a memory stream.  Keza remembers her past as she packs to return to Kigali. It is not a fast romance read. The story needs time to assimilate, as Keza works to find her place in the many worlds she encounters.

Where to Sell or Share your Complete Story in East Africa

The one thing writers all need no matter the level of their creative journey is feedback from readers.  Readers who will dive into your work and get back to you with legitimate feedback on what they think/thought about your work. Feedback will help you grow as a writer, and gaining readership will allow you to discover what else you can do with your work.

This post compiles a list of options to use as an author based in East Africa and hoping to grow your readership.  From sites to post free content for immediate feedback to e-book and printed book distribution websites to aid in your book sales.

Here are platforms that offer authors options on what do with their work:

Five Free Reading/Writing Sites:

These sites allow you to post your work in chapters or episodes.  You can publish the entirety of your work in one go, or post from week to week to gain followers and readers.

  1. ebonystory.com

Ebonystory.com is branded as the Home of Interesting African Stories.  It is quite easy to create an account and start posting your chapters.  You’ll be in the company of fellow African writers and a very diverse readership ready to consume your content. They offer you a slew of story genres you can choose to write for.

2. Wattpad.com

Wattpad brands itself as ‘…the world’s most-loved social storytelling platform, where new voices write and share, and readers connect with the stories they love.’ Writers can create an account and start posting their story chapters right away.  Readers access books on the web or using the Wattpad App.  It is a highly competitive environment for authors.  You need to do a bit of work and social sharing to get your work read.  If you’re hoping to get feedback right away, you’ll need to be proactive in directing readers to your page and your stories. Wattpad.com offers authors different types of opportunities like Wattpad Stars, Ambassadors, and chances to get books in awards like the #Wattys.  They also offer paid stories and authors may apply to join this program depending on content and readership base. ( It is important to note that Wattpad is a platform still finding its footing in the African Continent and they have yet to trickle down these opportunities to African Authors, if it has, it is happening in a slow trickle.) This aside, Wattpad allows you to have a platform to share your work for free at no cost and you can gain readership with some hard work.

3. Inkitt.com

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered publisher, providing a platform to discover hidden talents and turn them into globally successful authors.  This platform is similar to Wattpad, in that they allow you to create an account and you can publish your stories chapter to chapter to gain readership.  The more popular your work, the more likely you are to get published by Inkitt’s unique publishing system.  It is worth a try if you’re hoping to gain readership and build on your body of work.

4. Webnovel.com

Web Novel's Inkstone platform
Web Novel’s Inkstone

Webnovel.com – Webnovel is a Chinese-owned publishing platform. They brand themselves as >>>Webnovel is a global online reading platform for all kinds of marvelous novels and comics. It daily updates serialized content, dedicating to micro-transactions and in-game-purchase mode, defining new trends in the online publishing industry. They mostly publish stories translated to English from Chinese or Korean.  However, they do offer a platform named Inkstone that allows you to share your work chapter by chapter.  Webnovel’s author platform takes a bit of work to understand.  Their library of stories is full of Chinese/Korean translated works.  If you do decide to delve into this platform, you may choose to create the same types of stories or create your own brand. Either way, it’s a great way to introduce your work to new readers.  My only tip would be to read more about Webnovel before you decide to publish. Read more about them.

5. . Dreame Storiesstarywriting.com

To write for Dreame Stories is to write for Stary Writing, which offers the platform.  They offer the opportunity to become an exclusive stary writer and get paid an income.  Dreame Stories does have a large readership base. As always, work does fall to the author to direct readership to the page and gain a following to reach paid status.  Please read up on the requirements at starywriting.com so that you know what kind of content they accept, and what they expect of their writers.

Ebook Distribution Platforms

Okada Books (Nigerian-based)

This platform allows you to become a published author in less than 5 minutes, their quote not mine.  You can showcase your books to a massive African readership base.  Check them out if you’re hoping to get your ebook before more African readers. They allow you to distribute both free and paid ebooks.

Smashwords.com / Draft2Digital

I’m a longtime fan of Smashwords.  It offers authors a great service in distributing books to various ebook stores like kobo/ Barnes and Nobles / Sony / Scribd and Amazon among others.  Smashwords.com also has its own store that allows the purchase and download of ebooks. 

To note: Smashwords.com has recently merged with Draft2Digital.com.  I hope it remains as amazing as it has been.  You can publish both free and paid ebooks.

Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing

This is a great platform to get your e-books published.  You can bring your work to a global audience as Amazon’s Kindle is worldwide.  Their only downside is payment for Kenyans.  Kenyans can only receive $100 checks in their mailbox. Which is very old-fashioned in a world of digital money. Hahaha. Amazon’s payment offer for Kenyans is still wanting.  They do not allow us to use PayPal/or our banks. (This might be different for authors with bank accounts and addresses abroad) You can however showcase your books on Amazon for anyone in the globe who might purchase your books. Your payment comes when you manage $100 in sales in the form of a cheque to your mailbox.

Printed Book Distribution Platforms

Rafu Books in Kenya (Printed Books)

Rafu Books has a platform called Rafu Merchant Services.  This platform allows authors, publishers, and others to partner with Rafu, who sell printed books through their website platform.  The platform offers a backend that allows you to manage stock and offer same-day delivery in Nairobi or the next-day delivery of your books to other parts of Kenya. Register for an account and follow their directions to get your books distributed.

Litireso in Nigeria (Printed Books)

Litireso is most similar to Amazon’s KDP.  They allow you to publish an ebook or printed book, or both.  They also offer shipping across the globe.  I would advise reading up on their offers, requirements, and system information before you get started.

Jumia.co.ke (Seller Account)

Interesting is that if you have a seller account on Jumia, you can sell your printed books as long as they have an ISBN barcode on the back cover.  All you would need to do is follow Jumia’s seller account guidelines and make sure your book is well stocked to meet Jumia’s delivery demands.

International Book Printing Platforms

  1. Lulu.com
  2. Ingramspark.com
  3. Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing

These three international platforms have long-established guidelines on how you can sell e-books and get your books printed.  If you’re in Kenya /East Africa, each of these three will require that you contend with fluctuating global shipping rates.  If these shipping rates are doable for you, then these platforms are a great resource to tap into and get your books to a wider audience.

Please Note: The platforms listed above allow you as a writer/author to sign up with minimal fuss.  You register an account, follow guidelines as specified on each website, then do your best to market yourself. Registration is free for all of them, with no money required for membership/or to get your book or work listed. All you need is your own work/ebook, a reliable computer or mobile phone, and internet access.

Happy Writing and Selling.


Zevs Afrotheria - Fiction

Check out Zev’s Afrotheria

Prologue

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

About Zev’s Afrotheria:

Also, find it here: Zevs Afrotheria – Wattpad


Afrotheria is facing a crisis. The magma vents in the Njaro Mountains have released deadly creatures called Ghost Wraiths. Afrotheria's Sable Council orders the recruit of every able man to fight and protect the citizens, creating the Protection Class, and a guardian army called the Theria Guild.
After a tragic raid destroys his home, Zev Joins the Theria Guild to become a Guardian. He learns how to fight the ghost wraiths coming to wreak havoc on innocent villages. He trains to be the best, joining the Strike Force by the age of Twenty-Five. Zev's main goal is to gain enough power in the Theria Guild. A power that will help him find his sister who was lost to him during the raid in their village when he was seventeen.
His goal to find his sister falters when he meets Dalia Taj, the Elderon's daughter. Dalia is a gifted researcher with a plan to end the Ghost Wraiths for good. She needs the Strike Force to end the great invasion and restore peace.
Zev must now decide what is more important to him, his family, or his country.

Notes Under the Door & Other Stories – Book Review

Notes Under the Door & Other Stories

By Michelle Chepchumba

Dead fathers. Critical mothers. Abusive marriages. Body insecurities. Young love. And always, expectations. Notes Under the Door is an anthology of seven African literary short stories that explores what it can mean to be a girl, a young woman, in a world that demands too much of women, and gives back too little. Set in urban Kenya, each story follows a girl or a woman grappling with the experience of being who they are – young, female, African, layered, complex, whole.

Book Review

Notes Under the Door & Other Stories is a collection of seven short stories.  Each story is a glimpse into a deeply profound moment.  A moment delving into the secret, complicated mind of Kenyan women at different stages of life.  The experiences described in these moments are tangible and feel very real.

Chepchumba’s characters speak on diverse, sensitive issues such as, unexpected pregnancy, and how hard it can be to acclimate to the dramatic change of life a baby brings.  She delves on relationships, and how hard they can be to maintain. A short story on domestic violence from the perspective of a young girl shows the impact it has on children. How domestic violence changes a child’s view of a parent.

Notes Under the Door gives this book its name.  It is a story tackling grief, obligations, and abortion. Each one of these adding on to the damaging effects on a mother at the time of abortion, and years later, when life continues on.

In Spilling into the World, a character asks, ‘…why can’t you decide you’re beautiful?’.  What a powerful question.  Spilling into the World looks at body image in a world where mainstream stereotypes impact women’s views of their own beauty, and their self-confidence.

A heartbreaking story told from the perspective of a young girl whose father does not look at her, nor treat her as ‘his princess’, concludes the collection.

Overall, Notes Under the Door & Other Stories reads like tales told from a best friend’s perspective.  Stories to make you feel, ‘Ah, I’m not alone in this. There are others like me.’ These stories depict women living experiences in our rapidly changing modern world.  They are a conversation to continue, and normalize.  I most enjoyed the realness of these short stories.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

(4.5 Stars)

Connect with Michelle on her blog