June Adventures and 2o22 so Far!

June is a great month to reassess plans and ideas. 2022 has been a series of small and massive changes, from stocking up on cooking oil to learning how to seriously create TikTok vids, trying not to binge on Stranger Things on Netflix, and seriously failing, the ’80s were fun.  The year is on a roll, and it’s all about managing everything in your life to keep moving forward.

Here are a few updates from our corner. June is dry for us in Nairobi this year. I garden and we have to water veggies and flowers on a serious note to escape drought. In any case, putting in some effort with watering has gotten us some pretty results. Mom harvested some bananas, and the flowers are looking pretty.  I miss the rain. Wondering if we should learn how to do a rain dance…hahaha.

I got to work on a very simple book cover this past month. We create content and make eBooks for sale at The Amari Baking Center. Here is a look at the pricing eBook we put out lately.  It has great content about how to manage your product pricing if you’re thinking or working on starting a small business. You can get it here. Pricing Book/Amari

On my reading list, I’m caught up in the Ash Princess Trilogy for the month of June. Ash Princess and Lady Smoke are read, and I’m left with Ember Queen. Can’t wait to get to the end of this series. I have a plan to read Wings of Ebony, I’m hoping it is an interesting read. My book count is slowly going up. I hope I’m at 52 by the end of the year.

On writing, I think I’m doing better this year than I did last year. I have a lot more chapters out than I expected. It does take effort to add in the word count between daily life activities, general chores, and that fabulous villain called procrastination. I hope to keep winning on the word count as the year continues. Wouldn’t it be fabulous to put out a new ebook in December 2022? Let’s do this!

June is at the end and six months of 2022 with it. I hope that I’ll manage to make the next six months more productive for this blog. On the plus side, I’ve finally learned how to make a blog calendar work for me! Which is an accomplishment I really cannot explain, just know it is a big, BIG thing! I’m too excited about it. That’s my happenings for the year.

I hope your next six months are full of productive and amazing events that fill you with accomplishment by December 2022.  Work on finishing that book you’ve been writing, get your projects done or plan one you’ve been thinking of getting done.

3 Popular Questions Asked about e-Books in Kenya

Question 1: How do I create an e-Book in Kenya? Is it easy?

A. This depends on the type of book you want to create. A book filled with prose like a story, or a non-fiction book with no graphs, tables, and pictures is easy.  You only need Microsoft Word/Apple’s Pages to create an e-Book.  You can turn your word document into a PDF, and/or ePub with Pages, and voila, you have an e-book.

The challenge starts when you have graphs, tables, and pictures that need specific formatting and layout requirements.  You then have to think of how your readers will access the e-book and the type of app they will use to read your e-book.

If you are selling your e-book yourself, there are decisions to make, for example;

  • Do you want the e-book printable? If you do, the PDF version is sufficient.  You only need to make sure it is formatted correctly so that the graphs fit within the margins and are readable on a phone/tablet/ laptop etc.
  • Do you have a print book and do not want the e-book printable? My advice would be to keep the book in print form. Do not turn the print book into an e-book if you’re absolutely against getting it in an e-book and having it printed out by readers that way. I tell you this because a motivated reader will find a way to turn your unprintable e-book into a printable version. We are in an age when there is always software somewhere that can do the conversion.
    • In any case, if you must turn the e-book non-printable, ePub is your best option.  ePub allows you to disable the printing option at creation ePub reading apps do not provide a means to print the eBook. Once again, it depends on the platform you have chosen to use to distribute your ePub.  When you are creating PDFs, you do get to choose whether to make the PDF nonprintable too, but you have to have software that allows you to lock up the contents.  Otherwise, as I said earlier, motivated readers will find a way to bypass the password version. ^_^

I hope this sheds some light on this constant question in my inbox. ^_^

Question 2: What type of software do I use often to make e-books?

  1. Microsoft Word

The most basic and easiest way to create an e-book in Kenya is to use Word from Microsoft Office, or its equivalent on Apple called Pages.  This is because I have used Word for a long time, since my school days, so I find it easiest to use.  I am able to make the necessary formatting changes on Word without problems. It is also easy because platforms like Smashwords take the word documents and turn them into PDF/Epub/and all other types of formats for the different types of devices on the planet.  Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing can also use .docx for their Kindle Create software to make upload files for Kindle. Word is quite diverse and easy to use.  Microsoft Office 360 is also a great way to save documents online so I don’t worry about crashing laptops and loss of work.  You can also do that with Google Docs, though I rarely use google docs as a way to work on ebooks to publish unless I’m doing a collaboration with someone else and we’re storing notes or giving feedback that needs everyone’s input.

  1. Publisher

I love Publisher for when I’m creating mini books that will not be uploaded online, or used as e-books. I use this software for little books we are printing ourselves.  It has a lot to offer in terms of formatting, and the little bubbles and asides and graphs and ways to arrange pictures excite me.  It’s my favorite for brochures, info notebooks, or just a short printed book.  I do not use this for e-books though.  I also do not use this software when sending a document to the printers.  The few times I tried it, we had great and epic mix-ups with formatting issues, so I reverted to word, and shifted to Indesign.

  1. Adobe Indesign

This is my favorite software.  It offers a very wide range of possibilities and is perfect for magazines, novels both non-fiction, and fiction, brochures, ebooks, and anything you can think of creating that will open like a book.  It is important to note that it also has a wide learning curve.  You’ll need to take the time to get to know how to format paragraphs, shapes, designs, images, and all that, but once you master it, anything is possible.  You can save your documents as per the printer’s requirements, and create ebooks turning them into PDFs or ePubs. The only limitations with this software are caused by the wallet ^_^. You can work on upgrading it as you grow.

Question 3 – Where do I sell my e-Book in Kenya now that I have made it?

Everywhere!  There is no limitation on where you can sell your e-book or printed book for that matter.  What I can do is give you three ideas on how you can create outlets for your ebook.

There is no limitation on where you can sell your e-book

  1. Create a Page on your preferred Social Media Platform. There are very many: Facebook /Instagram/ Tiktok/ Twitter to name some of the most popular. Discuss and talk about your book on your pages.  Facebook/ Instagram allows you to create a shop and you can sell your book through them.  Tiktok allows you to direct your followers to your Instagram page. Well, you can also Tweet the process of how to get the book. (This is the least amount of work for setup) You can also sell your ebook through Whatsapp.
  2. Create a website and make a landing page for your book.  Do you know how to create a website? If you do, then we’re halfway there. Create a landing page highlighting your e-book. I’m hoping you have a following or have at least been marketing it by this point. Explain to your potential readers how to buy your Printed Book/e-book. Provide an email, phone number, and how to pay for it.  Please make this process seamless for the reader. (An Mpesa plugin allows you to set up a seamless payment system. This method does require a considerable amount of knowledge when it comes to setting up a website. You can learn to do it yourself, or reach out to the website designer of your choice.)
  3. Signup on an ebook selling platform like OkadaBooks/ Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing/ Smashwords / Draft2Digital/ Litireso.  What these platforms allow you to do is upload your word document or pdf, please check their requirements, and sell your book through their shops and/or distribute to other ebook selling shops like Barnes & Nobles and Apple Books, etc. This method is the easiest as you rely on already established resources.  The cost of this is that each of these platforms does take a percentage of your sales. Decide which platform best fits your needs.

I hope this information gives you some insight into creating your own e-book for distribution to your readers. Find the software you are most comfortable with and work on mastering it, formatting documents, so that you are able to send out beautiful ebooks to your readers. Most of all, I wish you the best of luck on your publishing journey.

A Snippet of Fiction – The Price of Amber

Happy May! I’m so excited to share snippets of the story Ram and Amber, which now has a tentative name ‘The Price of Amber’. Still not in love with the title, in any case, I’m excited to have a 10K word count on this project.  There is nothing like getting started and having something to work on, instead of only planning.  Here is a look at the first chapter.

Chapter One

Kata right, kuja, kuja, sawa. Hapo! Hapo!”

Ram Jelani hit the brakes, stopping the tipper truck.  He leaned out his window to see his friend and business partner talking to their client.

“Amos,” Ram called out.

Amos hurried to the back of the truck and spent a few minutes unlocking the tailgate.

Mwaga,” Amos called to him and hurried to the side, giving Ram a thumbs up.

Ram nodded and engaged the controls to lift the tipper’s dump body.  The dump body of the truck lifted on hydraulics, letting out thirty tones of sand brought from the river.  Ram waited until it was all poured before he drove the truck forward to allow any excesses to pour out.

Ram’s phone rang and answered it, hands-free. His attention stayed on Amos and the two young men working with them.

“Ram, it’s Mom,” Candace Jelani’s voice filled the cabin.  “Where are you?”

“At a construction site in Othaya delivering sand,” Ram said.  “What’s wrong?”

“I don’t always call you because something is wrong,” Candace said.

“I told you I would be far today.  You must have an issue to call me,” Ram said, giving Amos a thumbs up when Amos called out that they had emptied the truck.

Ram lowered the dump body, drove forward, and brought the tipper to a full stop.  He parked and removed his phone from the hands-free mode.  He took it from its holder and brought it to his ear.

“What’s wrong?” Ram asked.

“Naria needs you,” Candace said with a sigh.  “She is stranded in Nyeri Town.  Her friends left her alone to pay for the table.”

“Mpesa her,” Ram said, annoyed by his little sister’s consistent letdowns.

“She doesn’t have her phone,” Candace said.  “She says she lost it last night.”

Ram bit his bottom lip not wanting to curse for his mother to hear.

Sawa, I’ll deal with it,” Ram said.  “Where is she?”

“White Rhino,” Candace said.

“Her tastes are getting expensive, Mom.  One of these days, you’re going to need to use your mwiko on her.  Why is it I’m the only one who knows what that mwiko is used for?”

“Keep complaining and I’ll give it to you when you get Naria home,” Candace said.  “You might be taller than me, but I can still smack you with a mwiko, Ram.  He, who are you joking with?”

Ram chuckled.

“Relax, Mom.  I’ll make sure Naria gets home after lunch,” Ram said. “Let me call when I have news.”

“Thank you, Ram,” Candace said and ended the call.

Ram started the truck and drove it out of the tight path leading to the construction site.  He drove it out to the exit of the access road and parked on the side of the main road.  Taking the keys, he jumped out of the cabin and stretched his arms over his head.

Amos hurried to meet him.

“Have they paid?” Ram asked.

“Yes, thirty thousand,” Amos said, waving their business phone. “Thank you for maneuvering the tipper.  The driver would not have made it.”

“I have to head out,” Ram said.  “Let’s meet in Karatina this evening.”

“Where to?” Amos asked, reaching into his pocket for car keys.  He handed them to Ram in exchange for the truck keys.

“To rescue Naria,” Ram said.  “I don’t know what to do with her.  Her friends are not friends.  She won’t believe it.”

“What happened now?” Amos asked.

Ram scratched his chin and shook his head.

“The story she gave mom sounds incomplete,” Ram said.  “I’ll need to hear it from her to know the truth.”

We,” Amos sighed.  “I’ll do the next delivery and call you later. Let’s meet at the usual place.”

Ram thanked Amos and hurried to the black SUV parked on the side of the main road.  He jumped into the driver’s seat and drove off with a wave at Amos.  Ram thought about Naria and his mother on his drive to Nyeri Town.

Naria was his half-sister.  She was younger than he was by ten years.  His mother had gotten her with her boyfriend, Zion Kavinde.  His mother, Candace, was soft with Naria.  She spoiled Naria and gave her everything she could.  Candace said she did so because Naria was a child born into an unsteady home.

Ram scoffed at the description.

Unsteady was a mild way to describe their tumultuous home life.  Broken home was more accurate.  The truth was that Candace Jelani still loved her husband, and Ram’s father.  She refused to divorce him and the affair she had with Zion was an attempt to heal her heartbreak.  Naria was born into a messy situation and there was nothing to do but cope.

Ram parked his car at the White Rhino Hotel and went in. He found Naria sitting at a table for two on the terrace.  She smiled when she saw him.

“Ram to the rescue,” Naria said with a quick smile, though it did not reach her eyes.

Ram pulled out the chair opposite her and sat.  He placed his phone and car keys on the table.  Crossing his arms against his chest, he sat back.

“I’ll settle the bill in exchange for the truth.”

Naria started to talk but Ram shook his head.

“If you don’t give me the truth, I’ll walk away,” Ram said, not caring that his mother would find her cooking stick and hit him with it.  He could take a little pain.

“Ram,” Naria said, her voice shaky.

Her eyes filled with tears and in a different setting, he would fall for this, but not here.

Ram pushed his chair back and started to stand up.

“Wait!” Naria said, reaching for him in a panic.  “Just wait a sec. I’m just…”

“The truth, Naria.”

“Fine,” Naria said, sitting back.  “Relax, please don’t leave me here.  I don’t want to call Mom again.”

“If you tell me, I’ll even buy you lunch,” Ram said, glancing at his watch.  It was just past twelve o’clock and he was hungry.

Naria sighed.

Aki, Ram,” Naria shook her head.

“Why are you here?” Ram asked, looking around the high-end hotel with a frown.  “Your budget does not allow you to be here.”

“I came with friends,” Naria started, clasping her hands on the table.  Her nails were a brilliant shade of green.  She was in a short black dress, her leather jacket shiny and there was smudged eye shadow around her eyes.

Ram sat back and crossed his arms against his chest, waiting.

To Be Continued!

Look for it on Wattpad, or Here. Hope your Friday is full of great vibes!

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.

What is Self-Publishing?

What is Self-Publishing?

Self-Publishing is the act of an author taking on the process of writing, editing, formatting, printing, and marketing your fiction or non-fiction book. Following are five important aspects of self-publishing.

  • The author publishes their work independent of any publishing houses.
  • The author takes on all the costs and expenses of the process.
  • The author does receive all the sale profits: He or She retains control and ownership of his or her content.
  • The author registers ISBNs and Copyright Licenses in person. He or she is responsible for fulfilling any legal requirements needed in the process of publication.
  • Marketing and promotion falls to the author.  The author needs to work at discovering and cultivating readership in order to make sales.  It helps if you have a large network of supporters online and offline.  If you don’t, then it is a great idea to get started on cultivating readership of your work.
What is Self-publishing? Five points on Self-Publishing in Kenya.

Self-Publishing is different from Traditional Publishing.

In Traditional Publishing, a publishing house accepts an author’s work, edits and formats according to house standards, prepares the work for printing and takes on the marketing of the work. In this day and age, the author is no longer exempt from the marketing efforts and may have to complete tasks as assigned by the publishers to promote the work.

In Kenya, publishing houses do not need you to have a literary agent.  However, they do need you to send work that has content centered on the publishing houses’ preferred publishing genres.  Check out these four traditional publishing houses submission guidelines: East African Publishers / Moran Publishers / Storymoja Publishers / Mystery Publishers

Of course, there are more than these four publishing houses in East Africa, but I have highlighted companies who have clear submission guidelines on what they are looking for on their websites and the process of submission.

Now you know what Self-publishing is, and what to expect from the process.  Here is a tip on what you need to do to see profits from your hard work.  Approach self-publishing as you would a startup business.  Your books are a product.  A product that requires smart marketing and constant refining to attract your readers and keep them.

It is no longer about just uploading your book on Amazon’s KDP or Smashwords and keeping quiet, waiting for a reader to stumble upon your work.  The industry has grown and changed.  There are a lot more authors who are publishing on the same platforms, in the same way.  You now need to market your work and be outgoing about it, online and offline.

Self- Publishing will give you results depending on the amount of effort (time + money) you choose to pour into it. Don’t be afraid to take the first step.

Publish your World

My grandmother told us (her grandchildren) folktales in her kitchen, while we waited for her to finish cooking.  She told us tales when we finished eating and waited to go to bed.  I remember the sound of her voice, her laugh, the scent of the sweet potatoes she roasted in the hot ash under the firewood coals.  Most of all, I remember the warmth of her kitchen, as she spun wild tales about an ogre in the forest who ate naughty children.  Her stories could be quite frightening at times

She’s long gone now.  All we have are the memories of her tales.  Most of which are not as clear as we wish they would be.  We were young, the years have gone by and us, her grandchildren, are often sad because her stories while entertaining are lost to memory.  I wish someone had written them down.  I wish I knew them well enough to write them down and print them.

I tell you this memory because you must also have stories you enjoyed, you experienced and hold close to your personal history.  They are yours, told in your language, your way.  To never forget them is a gift, to share them is your privilege.  Write them down and get them read by others.  Share your experiences in our beautiful East Africa with the generations to come. 

Publish your world. 

Playlist – January 12th

Music is my go-to when I’m feeling a serious need to keep working.  Here’s my playlist of late:

1. Easy on Me – Adele

2. Burn – Ellie Goulding

3. Return to Love – Ellie Goulding & Andrea Bocelli

4. Cycles – Svrcina

5. Battle of the Bastards – Ramin Djawadi (Game of thrones ost)

6. Wild Life – One Republic

7. Fire on Fire – Sam Smith

8. Arcade – Duncan Lawrence

9. Bach, Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major, Prelude – Yo Yo Ma

10. Heartache – One Ok Rock

From my playlist to yours, may you have mad inspiration in your creative journey.

On the Writing Desk – Work in Progress

A fresh new start for the year 2022.  I’m excited for new projects, and a new creative cycle.  Here is what is on the writing desk this year:

Zev’s Afrotheria – This is a story I’ve worked on off and on for the last few months. I’ll post it more often on this blog , look out for the chapters.

Zev Mablevi’s younger sister goes missing after a vicious attack on their home by ghost wraiths.  To find her, he needs the power of the Guardian Guild.  Zev gives up on his dreams to join the prestigious Tech Class and enters the Guardian Guild.  He works hard to join the most elite force in the guild on a quest to gain enough power to investigate his sister’s disappearance.  He soon meets Dahlia, a progressive scientist who believes she has found a way to win against the wraiths for good.  She needs a guardian who can take her to the top of the mountain where the ghost wraiths come from.  She promises Zev to help him find his sister if he gets her to the mountain and back.

Kipepeo – I started this during the 2019 nanowrimo cycle. I always feel it needs more work, so I’ll polish it up and share it soon.

Henson lives in a two-room house in with his mother and four siblings.  He wins a swimming competition in the local community center and wins a scholarship to Bayside College.  An elite school in the Lavington Hillsides.  There he meets Livia, the daughter of an affluent businessman.  They fall in love, but when her parents discover their relationship, they threaten to withdraw his scholarship. Livia breaks Henson’s heart to protect him.

Ten years later, Henson works in a reputable accounting firm in Nairobi.  He meets Livia, who is now managing her father’s business.  She needs help to save her family’s business from creditors.  Will Henson help her?

Jelani’s Empire – This is a tentative name for this story. In the books it is simply Ram & Amber. Hoping by the end of the year, it will be more than a shell.

Ram fights to recover his mother’s place in his family’s empire. This is a work in progress with no real blurb.  I’m lost in development world with it.

So much to do and write, and January is already underway.  ^_^ This is my list of work in progress.  I hope yours is going well too.

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)

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