What I’m Reading: Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

Happy Halloween! Ghosties and ghoulies and horror…oh my! I’m dressing as a psychopath for Halloween, because they look like anyone else. ūüėČ (h/t Wednesday Addams, The Addams Family¬†movie).

This week’s reading selection is Who Fears Death¬†, a speculative fiction/fantasy novel ¬†which won the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel. Acclaimed author Nnedi Okorafor¬†has been published in Clarkesworld magazine, among other places.


WHo Fears Death Nnedi Okorafor

I first discovered this book years ago, at the San Francisco Public Library. I took a chance on reading this author, and I was not disappointed. I talk about it here:

The story is about a girl named Onyesonwu, which literally means “who fears death”. Onyesonwu is an Ewu child, which is a child born of rape between the more violent and dominant members of the Nuru tribe (which have lighter skin and narrow features) and the more docile, enslaved members of the Okeke tribe (which have darker skin and more traditionally African features). An Ewu child can also be the product of a forbidden liaison between a Nuru and an Okeke. Like all Ewu children, Onyesonwu was born with skin and hair the color of sand. She grew up in the desert, which is where her mother escaped after being raped.

Onyesonwu is an untapped, untrained sorceress; her particular strain of magic lies in shapeshifting. She tries to get training by the powerful sorcerer in her village, but he turns her away because she is female. She keeps trying until he is finally accepts her as a student. During this time she meets and falls in love with an Ewu boy, Mwita, who suddenly arrives in her village one day. He is an integral part of her journey as she completes her training and goes to destroy her biological father, who is a powerful sorcerer determined to wipe out the Okeke with his extremely violent army.

If you are a fan of speculative and/or fantasy fiction, I highly recommend both this book, and Nnedi Okorafor (you should also check out Kabu Kabu, her most recent collection of short stories).


November Twofer

November is upon us…which means National Novel Writing Month! Woooooooo!

To recap: every November, from the 1st to the 30th, people from around the world attempt to write a 50,000-word book (approximately 250 pages) within that month. There is no fee and no prize, other than the satisfaction of saying, “Hey, I wrote a book…and in a month!”

I’ve been participating every year, since 2006 (or ’07). Last year, as I’ve mentioned before, I finally “won”: that book was published in August of this year (2014). Maybe you’ve heard of it: The Bastille Family Chronicles: Camille. ūüėÄ

Camille ebook cover

I became aware of a sister contest: National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo), which is a similar concept for bloggers. For the entire month, you post one entry on your blog per day, every day, from November 1-30? The prize? Getting into the habit of blogging ,and maybe even some more followers. Or, you can have the satisfaction of finally starting a blog.

I talk about it here:

Join in the fun on November 1, and strap in for a month of writing adventure! I’ll be blogging about my participation in NaNoWriMo, and I’ve already registered this blog, so I’m doing a twofer for November. You’re welcome. LOL

BTW: if you do NaNoWriMo, feel free to add me as a buddy (I’m afrosaxon).

I hope to see you on the interwebs! Thanks for stopping by.


Letting Go

I received the latest email/newsletter today from Kristen Domingue, who is a branding expert. I signed up for her newsletter a few weeks ago, after seeing her profile in The Daily Worth (another newsletter, which focuses on women and/in business). It wasn’t your typical “here’s how I can help you be better–buy my product!”¬† newsletter; in fact, what she had to say in this one could be considered radical, being that she encouraged readers to unsubscribe from her newsletter. Not because she was trying to tank her business (in fact, it takes a lot of confidence to tell folks to get to steppin’), but because she understood how easy it is for one seeking clarity to become overwhelmed by all the “expertise” floating around the internet.

Unsubscribe from someone else’s passion long enough to make room for yours to emerge.¬†Do it. Quit. Go cold turkey. Check¬†in for inspiration every once in a while. You know where they live.¬†But the only way to become colleagues and full peers of the people you admire is for you to bring your truth and thoughts to the table, instead of being a loyal “follower.” So go ahead. Unsubscribe. I dare you to shut out all the noise in your inbox and listen within.” — Kristen Domingue

This quote resonated more with me, in light of the fact that I have been backing away from things and people who are no longer serving the person I’m becoming. ¬†As I ¬†prioritize my business as writer, it is leaving less time for me to socialize–and at this time, building my business is more important. Which means anything extraneous, or not nourishing takes a back seat.,

The right ideas, message, clarity and¬†thought leadership will emerge from you‚ĶIf you’ve set the table and sent an invitation‚ĶAnd don’t have someone else sitting¬†in its seat of honor. — Kristen Domingue


When the wrong¬†person/place/thing takes up significant amounts of energy, that entity is squatting in the Seat of Honor–which doesn’t leave room for the rightful occupant. ¬†Sometimes it’s hard to figure out where/who the energy vampires are; other times, we know, but it’s hard to actually walk away.

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” – Anais Nin

I’m culling¬†the black holes in my life, at all levels–people, personal Facebook, old books and clothes–simply because it’s too exhausting for me to keep things as they are. I’m even stepping back from consulting. I’m all for helping others get to their next level but the older I get, the more I realize that everyone doesn’t want to go to the next level. Or maybe they do, but don’t feel they’re deserving. Regardless, I can’t spend anymore time trying to drag folks along the path. I’m here if they need me, and I will help if asked, but ¬†I can no longer put their needs above mine. I can no longer desire for them what they do not work for themselves. I need that energy for MY next level, so I kindly invite folks to lead, follow, or get out of my way.

Unsubscribe from someone else’s passion long enough to make room for yours to emerge.¬†

In the immortal words of the late comedian Robin Harris, “Gotta go, gotta go!” (NSFW — language)


Thanks for stopping by.

What I’m Reading: Fantasy in Death by JD Robb (with video!)

I pulled out an oldie but goodie, as I work on a character for an upcoming Bastille Family novel. ¬†It’s Fantasy in Death, by J.D. Robb (the pseudonym for bestselling romance author Nora Roberts).

Fantasy in  Death cover

I actually talk about it a bit here (it’s NOT a book review, per se):

Anyway, the story is set around 2060, and involves the death of one of the partners in an upstart video game company. It’s a classic locked-door mystery: the victim was alone in a locked room, playing a video game, and there were no signs or evidence of anyone else entering or leaving the room. So whodunit? The series protagonist, Lieutenant Eve Dallas, is very technology-challenged and has no idea how to navigate the very tech-heavy world of video games. She gets valuable assistance from her husband, Roarke, who is very skilled in his own right in the area of computers and technology, as well as the Electronic Detective Division of the New York Security and Police Department.

(Since this is over 40 years into the future, I’m hoping that a separate division that focuses on technology used in crimes becomes a reality).

The plot is pretty good, and there is an interesting twist at the end. This is one of my favorite books in the entire In Death series, of which I have every book so far (Fantasy in Death is the 31st book in the series, or something). I especially like the positive portrayal of female gamers (so refreshing in the wake of #gamergate) and the leap in applications of video games, virtual reality, and holograms.

The book came out in 2011, so it should be readily available at your local library, if you’re not inspired to purchase a copy for yourself. I do recommend it, as it is an entertaining read.

Thanks for stopping by.

The Value of NaNoWriMo

Next week (wow, time evaporates!), on November 1, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) starts again. For the uninitiated, this is an annual event where writers of all levels, from across the globe, hunker down and try to write a complete novel of 50,000 words (approximately 250 pages, double-spaced, 12-pt font, 1-inch margins) in one month (NaNoWriMo ends on November 30). The “winners” — those who reach or surpass the 50K goal — get bragging rights and discounts on various book-related goods and services (ebooks, self-publishing platforms, etc).

NaNoWriMo is more about the journey than the destination. Its primary goal is to encourage writing, and to connect writers to a community of support that will help facilitate writing. There is a large and vibrant virtual community, which primarily consists of message boards where one can find like-minded individuals by age, preferred writing genres, hobbies, location, etc.; as well as emailed “pep talks” by published authors such as Veronica Roth [the Divergent series]), self-published authors, and past NaNoWriMo winners). You can also connect with writing buddies from anywhere in the world. There are also real-life events hosted by region (kickoff parties, “write-ins”–where fellow NaNoWriMos gather to just sit and write for strerches of time, and to support each other on this writing journey.

NaNoWriMo is free to join and participate, although donations are encouraged to help keep things going, and also to fund programs like the NaNoWriMo Young Writers. The main benefit of NaNoWriMo is just to get people over the inertia of writing–which could be due to fear (“I’ve never written a book”; “I don’t know what to write about”; “OMG, I have to write 50,000 words?!”), or time constraints (“I have a job/family/school; how can I finish 50K words in a month?”; or something else.

It has helped me, even in the many years prior in which I didn’t finish/”win”. I was able to play around with some ideas and see if they were viable from a writing standpoint. I was able to get into a writing groove (it didn’t always stick, but at least I knew where the groove was should I choose to revisit it). I found other interesting writers, both online and in real life. I felt more like a writer.

One of the things I like about NaNoWriMo is that it meets you where you are. You don’t have to be a published author, or a journalist, or work in publishing. You may have a blog, or your writing may be limited to¬† grocery or to-do lists. You may love to read and have secretly harbored a desire to write a book. You can be a citizen of your country, undocumented, on a visa, or just passing through. You can be any race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, political stance. You can write fiction, nonfiction, or poetry. You can write romance, horror, science fiction, suspense, “chick lit”, serious fiction, scientific manuals, religious commentary, self-help books–whatever you like or whoever you are, there is a place for you.

I finally “won” NaNoWriMo in 2013, and the result was my first solo published novel, The Bastille Family Chronicles: Camille. Just completing this goal after six years of not finishing NaNoWriMo made me proud of myself. I’m looking forward to this year, as I have a story that is itching to come out (whee!).

So if you are so inclined, join me from Nov. 1-30 and let’s work on our novels. Feel free to add me as a buddy (my user name is afrosaxon). You have a story inside; it’s time to let it out.

Thanks for stopping by.

What I’m Reading: Half of a Yellow Sun

A couple of weeks ago, I saw the movie Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Half-of-a-Yellow-Sun-movie March-2014-BellaNaija


I’d already read Americanah some months ago and while I wasn’t as hyped as others have been about the book (even after seeing her speak/read in person), it was nonetheless interesting. I’d heard of Half of a Yellow Sun, which was written prior to Americanah, but hadn’t gotten around to reading it. The movie’s starpower (Chiwetel Ejiofor, Thandie Newton, Anika Noni Rose) and subject matter (the Biafran War in Nigeria) drew me in and these actors delivered the plot in a way that made me run to buy the book.


I am about half of the way through the book (it’s 544 pages long), but I am pleased to say that the movie follow very close to the book. The book itself is written in Adichie’s lyrical prose; I actually like this one much better than Americanah. Perhaps Half of a Yellow Sun didn’t get the props it should have because it had nothing to do with America (we all know how America, as a whole, thinks of Africa or any country “over there”). ¬†Perhaps it’s because the formation of the nation of Biafra, and the subsequent civil war, is little more than a footnote outside of America, and an nonexistent one within the USA. Regardless, I highly recommend Half of a Yellow Sun, and I will be rewatching the movie when I’m done.

Thanks for stopping by.

In Case You Missed It…

For those who missed my LIVE Q&A on Tuesday, here ya go:




LIVE Q&A with me, TONIGHT!

I’m doing a Google Hangout tonight, 10/14, 7-8 pm ET.

Come join me as I discuss my books, self-publishing, and other writing stuff. Tell a friend!

Five Miles to Empty

One of the hazards of starting out in self-publishing (or any entrepreneurial endeavor) is the lack of funding. Most people don’t save up a nest egg from which they can procure any manner of needed services (e.g. editing, marketing, accounting) at whim. And, as I have mentioned countless times before, it takes time to build up a loyal fan base that will automatically buy hundreds and thousands of your books upon release. ¬†So, it’s a lot of do-it-yourself (DIY).

The problem with DIY is exhaustion. If you treat your writing like a full-time job (minus the nice corporate benefits and a spot in the company cubicle farm–and especially due to a lack thereof), then you will be hustling from “sunup to midnight”, in the words of the late, great, Michael Jackson in his song “Workin’ Day and Night”:

Add to this the fact that the rest of your non-work life doesn’t stop, and you set yourself up for fatigue, exhaustion, and don’t-give-a-figness. I’m there right about now. I have a new book looming in a few weeks, and a short story surrounding this book, and I have not done a lick of marketing. None. Zero. It’s not difficult; all it takes is a quick Tweet, a few seconds to post on Facebook and Google Plus, perhaps some sort of Instagram photo. Preliminary PR is right at my fingertips, but I can’t bring myself to exert the energy to put it out there. Meanwhile, I have the energy to write this blog post and binge-watch past seasons of Grey’s Anatomy…go figure.

It could be mental exhaustion (because my non-writing life is commanding a lot of attention these days). It could be a crippling fear of failure (second book curse, and all that). It could be recovery from a punishing and long round of antibiotics (but I’m back to my 3-mile-a-day walks, so that’s good). It could be a lack of marketing inspiration (e.g., what can I say/do differently from the release of The Bastille Family Chronicles: Camille to get Blizzard: A Sebastian Scott Novel hyped to the masses) Whatever the reason, I need to get it together, and get it together soon. I can’t afford to slack off, because that would mean a lack of sales and as I’ve said before: if it don’t make money, it don’t make sense.

Thanks for stopping by.



Twitter Chat!

Join me for a Twitter chat tonight about The Bastille Family Chronicles: Camille, the Bastille Family Chronicles series, and other stuff that I will discuss at my discretion. ūüėÄ

Tonight, 7-8pm ET, on Twitter (@Tiffscribes). Use the hashtags #TheCamilleChronicles and #BFC.

Hope to see you there!

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