WHEN A READER MET HER AUTHOR

WHEN A READER MET HER AUTHOR

I am told that the lifetime probability of dying from a local meteorite, asteroid, or comet impact is 1 in 1,600,000. The chances of being hit by a tornado are 1 in 4,513,000,  for a car accident 1 in 90, for a fire 1 in 250, for lightning 1 in 135,000, for a shark attack1 in 8 million, and for winning the National Lottery jackpot 1 in 13,983,816 (or approximately 1 in 14 million).

I had wondered what were the chances of meeting the author of a book that you have enjoyed reading. I have read beautiful poetry, some of which authors I had no chance of meeting since these were all dead. I wished I could meet some of my favourite authors in the fantasy and mystery genres. I would like to discuss some of the plots with them. I would also like to discuss my favourite characters and would like to know the reason for writing the particular book.

My recent visit to Benidorm provided an opportunity to bit the odds. It was something that I never thought could happen, especially in a non-English speaking far-away country.

We had just had our supper. I took a strategic sit so I could be inclusive in what promised to be a memorable Friday night show. The people were so friendly, and made me feel like I had met all of them before. Yet I had only been there for three days. We were all looking forward to a fantastic night of magic show.

I got two glasses of red wine and settled with my wife in two empty seats beside a lovely couple from Liverpool, Bob and Rossie. Like it happens whenever people are gathered, we tried to get to know one another. Bob was a self-employed engineer. He had a keen interest in football. A loyal supporter of Liverpool Football Club, he could spend the whole evening talking about his favourite team. Rossie, a retired headteacher, looked younger than her age. 

“So, how do you spend your time when you’re not at work?” Rossie asked me, with a strong Liverpudlian accent.

“Reading and writing,” I replied.

“And you?” I asked.

“I don’t write,” she replied, “but I do read a lot.”

“So, what do you read?” I asked, as I became excited.

“I enjoy reading any good story,” she replied, particularly the mystery genre. You know, those stories with magic and horror, especially those stories set in Africa. You know, those stories about voodoos, jungles and wildlife. Oh, I love them.”

I nodded, as she continued.

“Look at this,” she said, as she took a book out of her bag, “I bought it before we flew out last week. Have you read it?”

I nearly collapsed, as I stared at OKAMBI, my latest novel. I had never thought I would meet someone who had read my book, apart from friends and family, and those who had attended the first reading and got signed copies. 

“No,” I replied, “but I know about OKAMBI.”

“Nice one,” she said, “I will surely recommend it.”

“Have you read other books by the author?” my wife asked.

“Oh yes,” she replied, “I have read all of his books including his poetry. I have even read about him at his Amazon Author’s page.”

I turned the book from front to back, and stared at it, as if I did not recognise my own book. As I turned the 365-page mystery novel, I talked about Okambi, the teenage main character, his wicked aunt and the Wilderness of Wisdom.

My wife must have read the surprise on Rossie’s face. It was obvious that Rossie wondered how I knew so much about the story in OKAMBI when I had not read it.

“I can see you are surprised that he knows so much about the book when he has not read it. That’s because he wrote the story,” my wife said.

“Wow! Are you Joe Kenogbon?” Rossie shouted with excitement, and almost knocked off my drink. 

All the people turned into our direction, wondering what caused Rossie’s excitement. Rossie showed OKAMBI to everyone who was present that night, and recommended all my books to them.

I signed Rossie’s copy of my novel and thanked her for reading my books. I also informed her of my upcoming book, Pages of My Heart: Book Two. As expected, it was a crazy night. But, my real excitement was the chance meeting with a loyal reader of my books. 

WHY I WRITE

WHY I WRITE

Someone once asked me, “Why do you write?”

“Well, it’s because I enjoy writing,” I replied.

“How do you find the time to write, given that you have a busy job?” she asked.

“I make time for it,” I replied.

That was not the first time that someone has asked me about my writing. So many people have asked me the same question after reading my books. It is all about interest. My passion for writing dated as far back as my secondary school days, when I regularly wrote short stories and poems in the school magazine. As I grew up, I realised that to be a good writer, you should be a good reader. I have read several books of various genres over the years. The more I read, the more I like to write.

As a child, growing up in Africa was a challenge in many ways. I had the privilege of spending my time both in rural and urban Africa, with opportunity to experience the ethno-cultural as well as religious diversities. Moreover, I grew up in a large family where love blossomed. I emigrated to Europe as an adult. This has brought a new set of challenges and impacted my views about relationships. Day by day, I see the complexity of human character and the strength of human spirit.

Whilst, no doubt, passion is one factor, motivation is equally important. My experiences both in Africa and Europe, provide a rich source of materials for my writing. I am always eager to share these in writing. As a medical doctor, my life is busy. Still, I make time not only to write but also to read and to be with my family and friends.

It’s also about organising your time. Nature endowed everyone of us with only twenty-four hours in a day. You can always set aside a fraction, no matter how small, of these hours for your writing. I do most of my writing in the early hours of the morning. With other members of the family still in bed, I can focus on my writing without any distraction. I also seize every opportunity that becomes available for writing. For example, I edited my latest novel, OKAMBI on the plane en route to a Spanish holiday. Likewise, I wrote most of my novel, DR BRAVER in a hotel. I checked into the hotel that was too noisy for a peaceful sleep. So I took the opportunity to write. DIVINE HOPE and DUTY OF CANDOUR were other novels that I wrote in similar situations.

Modern technology is great for writers. I find my smartphone and tablet particularly useful. I wrote most of my poems on my mobile devices. The idea to write my poetry book, PAGES OF MY HEART occurred to me when I visited Africa. As I walked up and down my birthplace, I remembered how we used to gather under the mango tree. Whilst there, I drafted the poem, UNDER THE MANGO TREE with my Note App and made it one of the poems in PAGES OF MY HEART. My faith inspired me to write ONE FOR THE LORD, another poetry book.

No matter how busy you are, you can always find time do your writing. It’s a matter of passion, combined with dedication and discipline. You can do a self-audit, looking at how you spend your own twenty-four hours. It will amaze you how much of your time goes unaccounted for. This, or part of it, is all you need for your writing.

LET’S CELEBRATE HIM

LET’S CELEBRATE HIM

I can’t believe that it’s another Christmas. It feels as though the last Christmas was just yesterday. Whatever is my perception, it is real. It is another Christmas. Everything is the same: Bank holiday, best wishes with cards, texts, Twitter, WhatsApp, and exchange of gifts. To many people that’s all that matters. Just have the fun, go with the flow, and wait for another year. Of course, Christmas is a celebration time, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

But, did you know that two thousand years ago, a baby boy was born to a virgin mother in a manger? The world did not recognise that He was the King of Kings, Lord of Lords and the Saviour of the world. How would they believe, when He had no golden shoes on His feet and He did not wear an earthly crown? But, He wasn’t an ordinary baby. Nothing about Him was ordinary even though the world saw Him as an ordinary baby. Whether you recognise Him or believe the truth that He brought to the world, He loves everyone all the same. His arms are widely open so you may jump into His embrace for salvation.

That is who we are celebrating. That is what Christmas is about. Yes, it is all about Jesus, the Prince of peace. He is joy to the world. Yes, in Him we rejoice. Come on, let’s celebrate the one who has given salvation to humankind. In Him there’s no condemnation but salvation. I am not ashamed to celebrate Him. I am not ashamed to worship Him for I am One For The Lord. Friends, come and join me to celebrate the one who has rescued me. He is my Redeemer.

This is the time to praise the One who is full of grace, love and compassion.
I celebrate Him with my songs and dance for joy in knowing Him.
The Lord deserves our praises.
Nothing will make me not to praise Him.
Why will I not praise the Lord who is able?
Good things He has done in my life.
Nothing else I can do but to praise Him.
Yes, I am One For The Lord.
Friends, please join me to celebrate the one who has given us life.
Let’s celebrate Jesus and make Christmas a time for peace, love and reconciliation.

HAPPY CHRISTMAS

#OneForTheLord

A LITTLE PRAYER

 

A LITTLE PRAYER

How do I start?

Where do I begin?

Just what would I say?

Who do I pray for?

How long do I pray?

 

We are all people,

In God’s hands;

Pray for people around me,

Wishing me well all the time,

Bless their souls.

 

Some people have been alone all their life,

Longing to find someone,

Who will be close to their heart,

No one to talk to when their heart breaks;

People with no interest in anything,

Mood is low all the time,

No pleasure in anything,

Sometimes thinking life not worth living;

Have no fear, God is closer than you thought,

So, I say a little prayer.

 

No pride in failure,

But no use burying my head

Under the pillow,

So, toddle on I will,

My faith to lead me on,

Knowing my God will do it again,

Like He has done before,

So, I say a little prayer………………

……………….

EXCERPT from ONE FOR THE LORD: Prose and Poems For Believers

WHAT IS A MOTHER’S WORTH?

What would you do if you were told that your mother was dying of an incurable curse, and you too, were not exempt from the wrath of the gods? Imagine that your mother has lost seven children in their infancy and she now fights for her life. Will you leave her to her fate or fight to keep her alive? Can you risk your own life so that she can have hers?

I believe we all have our own answers to those questions, depending on how much we care about our mother. But this is exactly the situation that a teenage boy called Okambi faces. It is a testing time for him. He has no doubt that his mother has inherited the curse. The sign is so obvious. He needs no other proof. The repercussion is an inevitable death. That’s what they have told him. That’s what he knows. But there is always a way out of a predicament. He will not let his mother die. And he is determined to beat the odds. Desperate to find the cure, he is prepared to do whatever it takes, even risking his own life.

Gbagala, the only cure for the curse, lies with King Bam Dakuro, the powerful ruler of the Wilderness of Wisdom. Okambi dares to go on the dangerous journey. But he has to undertake the journey alone. In the Wilderness of Wisdom, no one fights for you. No one carries your burden. You do it alone, and die alone. He may get lost in the wilderness, never to return home. But it is a race against time. His mother has only a few days to live. Without the cure, she will certainly die.

Okambi travels on a journey never undertaken by a human being. Even the greatest Medicine Men can only make brief spiritual visits, never in person. There is no road map to the sacred wilderness. There’s no day or night. But he must find the palace. He must find the key to unlock what the gods have locked. He must appeal to the ancestors through King Bam Dakuro and return home with Gbagala.

He mingles with half-bodied beings. He has to eat what they eat and do what they do. He mingles with invisible beings. He even fights Kiliwi, the formidable Giant of Ilu and looks at death in the eye. He must find the cure for the curse. That’s his mission, and it’s all that matters. That’s his mother’s worth.

WHAT’S ON HER MIND?

WHAT’S ON HER MIND?

See, she sits down there
With a pensive stare.
I have seen her like that before:
Face squeezed up in a pore.
I ask myself,
What’s on her mind?

She’s been silent all day,
Going from room to room.
She opens one drawer,
And closes it with a hiss.
I look away, knowing there’ll be no kiss.
But what’s on her mind?

One minute ago there was laugher,
And she danced after.
Now she bangs the door,
As she stamps her feet on the floor
Like she is at war.
I ask myself,
What’s on her mind?

She has just prepared the meal,
Sweet delicious meal of veal,
Garnished in a beautiful tray.
“Thanks,” I learn to say.
Then she stands and away,
And I ask myself,
What’s on her mind?

Now it’s end of the day,
Time to sit together to play.
She looks down from the stairs
In flaming stares,
With a duster in her hand;
And again I ask myself,
What’s on her mind?

Books are written to be read,
And I’m a good reader.
Give me a book and I will read it;
Please don’t give me your mind,
‘Cause I can’t read it.

 

Excerpts from Pages of My Heart: Book One

CLICK to listen to the Audio Sample

THE LIZARD BY MY WINDOW

THE LIZARD BY MY WINDOW

He stands there,
Don’t know if he sees me,
He raises his head,
Because he’s a gecko.

As I stand there in a stare,
Wondering what’s on his mind,
He swirls in a tick,
Turns back with a smile.

What’s brought this?
Something’s dropped
From his gnash;
Limb of a cockroach!

The lizard by my window
Eats all the time;
He has no leftover when he eats,
No wonder he has no friend.

Excerpts from PAGES OF MY HEART

UNDER THE MANGO TREE

UNDER THE MANGO TREE

Under the Mango tree,

There we sit,

With our eyes on top,

Waiting for a ripe one to drop.

Under the Mango tree,

Everything is free,

We do our playing,

And go all crazy.

Under the Mango tree,

We pay no fee,

Since the fruits are free;

Our joy is awesome,

As we watch the fruits blossom.

Excerpts from PAGES OF MY HEART

KEEPING NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS

KEEPING NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS
The New Year’s day comes with celebrations all across the globe. It is an important landmark in the life of everything in the world, living or nonliving. Not only is it significant as a chronological entity. But it is also a time for self auditing. It provides one an opportunity to reflect on all the events in the previous year. It is a magical time when you want to put all the pains, anger, disappointments, etc behind you. You decide to set goals for yourself. So you draw up your “New Year Resolutions.”

I visited my friend on New Year’s day. Bobo and I have been friends since childhood. As usual, we discussed various issues ranging from politics and religion to football. We both shared stories of all that had happened to us in the past year. Some of the stories made us laugh. Others brought tears to our eyes. But that’s life. Whether we like it or not, good and bad always walk together.

“This year is going to be different,” Bobo said with a tight fist. “I have made my New Year Resolutions. It’s going to be different this year.”

“Really?” I squeezed my eye.

I couldn’t help laughing. Bobo, like most people make New Year Resolutions. So that was nothing new. I recalled that one of my good friend’s resolutions last year was to be more organised. He confidently resolved to keep a tidy library. I sat down on the only seat that had nothing on it in my friend’s study. Heaps of unopened letters and journals with thick layers of dust on them made the room look like the waste recycling centre. My eyes caught one of my books that I gave him as a present last year. I pulled it out of the pile of his “favourite books.” As I dusted the book and many others on that row, I wondered what would happen to his resolutions again this year.

“Trust me, my friend,” he said. “This year will be different.”

I must admit, Bobo is not alone. Like most people, Bobo makes his Resolutions on New Year’s day. But only few people make the changes they pledge to make. In fact, studies have found that “43% of people who made resolutions broke their “promise” within the first few days or weeks, and 66% didn’t make it past February.”

I stopped making New Year Resolutions a few years ago. Of course, I believe in making changes. But I don’t wait till the first day of January to make that decision. You can make changes anytime and don’t need to wait till the New Year’s day. The important thing is the decision to make those resolutions. You can decide on the day you want to start. It can be the beginning of the week, month or year. As for me, my landmark is my birthday. That’s when I make my own resolutions.
Whatever the time you choose to make your resolutions the most important thing is to keep them. The following tips may help you to achieve them:

Keep them simple and specific: You may have several goals you want to achieve. Perhaps you have the desire to change many things about yourself. Trying to achieve all of them at the same time is likely to cause disappointment. You are more likely to keep your resolutions if you focus on one or two of your most important goals.

Make realistic resolutions: Some goals may be desirable. But are they achievable? You should not aim for goals that are clearly unachievable. Examine your previous experiences and try to figure out what led to failure. In setting your goals, think of factors that may prevent you from achieving them and whether you can deal with those factors.

Write them down: Write your resolutions clearly and boldly and display them where you can always see them. By so doing, you constantly remind yourself of your commitment.
Set Small Goals or Goals in small chunks: Break your goals into clear short-term manageable bites. It is easier to see how well you are doing when you put the road to achieving your goals in phases. Success in those short-term phases will ultimately lead to achieving the main goal.

Power of Repetition: Habit is second nature. It is one of the most difficult things to change. You need to consciously repeat the new habit. If you find yourself drifting back to the old habit, keep on your determination. Don’t flog yourself. Instead, keep reminding yourself that there is no habit that you cannot change. It may help to share your decision with friends and family and let them know how they can help. However, you must put yourself in charge.

Reasons for the change: Constantly remind yourself why you want to make this change. This is especially vital in those moments when the going gets tough and you feel like giving up. You know why you are doing what you are doing. Let that spur you into action. Do whatever it takes to achieve your goal.

Reward yourself: When you achieve each of the chunks of your goals, congratulate yourself. Even if during the process, you have made one or two failures, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you have done your best. Start on the next phase and keep going. At the end of it all reward yourself with something really good.

Those of you who have made new year resolutions, I hope you will keep them. All the best.

CAN YOU TRUST?

fullsizeoutput_20a0CAN YOU TRUST?

When you go to a restaurant, you expect to have a meal that has been prepared in a hygienic manner. You don’t ask the pilot to show you his license when you board a plane. You assume that he is certified to fly you safely. You don’t ask for papers to confirm that the plane has had regular services, and it is safe to fly. The taxi driver waits for you holding up a piece of paper with your name written on it. You follow him to the parking lot and expect that he has a valid driving license, and he is an authentic taxi driver.

Imagine attending your doctor’s surgery one day. “What can I do for you today?” the doctor asks. “Oh, before we start, can you show me your certificate?” you reply. Of course, that does not happen under normal circumstances. You don’t ask your doctor or dentist to show you his medical certificate before treating you. It’s all to do with trust.

Your child jumps on you. You hold her up, throw her up several times and even turn her upside down. She smiles with pleasure and urges you, “Again, dad.” Then she sits on your laps as you tell her stories. She doesn’t argue. After all you are her parent. She doesn’t have to read any book about trust. She probably even doesn’t know the true meaning of, and what it takes to trust. But she trusts you anyway. She trusts her parents to take a good care of her, to love and protect her.

Someone whom you believe not to like you invited you to a dinner. Would you accept the invitation or would you find excuses to turn him down? What about when you have just started a job? One of your new colleagues smiled at you when you entered the office. She even made you a cup of tea with biscuits. Within minutes, she told you everything about everybody. The other colleague gave only a brief smile. She talked a little but simply concentrated on what she was doing. Which of these two colleagues would you trust?

Trust is an important attribute in our life as human beings. As a matter of fact, it is fundamental to the human web. It is the strand that knits together the fabric of what we know and recognise as society. Good relationships are based on trust. Trust goes beyond relationships between two persons or among family members. It goes beyond racial, religious or ethnic bounds.

As a growing child, I saw the world as a beautiful place. I was surrounded by families and friends that showed nothing but love and care. Now grown up, I marvel at what people do to their fellow human beings. I could not understand how people who once lived together and did everything together suddenly became enemies, burning neighbours’ houses, slaughtering their children and causing many untold havocs. I see the trust I once had in my fellow human beings eroding on a daily basis. The world no more looks like the one I was born into. It gets worse everyday. Then I ask myself. “Can I really trust anyone? Can I trust people?”

One day, my friend visited me. “Did you know that Tom and Philippa are going through a divorce?” he asked. “Oh!” I replied. “He told me to keep it secret,” he continued, “but I believe that I must tell you since Tom is our friend.” “Oh!” I replied again. It is true that Tom is our mutual friend. As a matter of fact, I knew about Tom and Philippa’s struggle with their marriage. But Tom told me to keep it to myself, just like he told our friend, Franklin. He trusted us with his secret.

What does it really mean to trust? According to the Cambridge Dictionary, this means “to believe that someone is good and honest and will not harm you, or that something is safe and reliable.” The Oxford Dictionary defines it as “to believe in the reliability, truth, or ability of” the person. Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary defines trust simply as “belief that someone or something is reliable, good, honest, effective, etc.” Trust thus encompasses an assured reliance on someone including his character, truth, strength and ability to keep one’s secret. It is that duty that is created by trust that a person keeps to be deemed trustworthy.

Some people trust easily. But for some other people, trust can be an enigma. There are many reasons while people may find it hard to trust or not to trust at all. When you have been hurt or disappointed by people you have once trusted, you don’t want to trust again. This cannot be more true than in relationship situations, business transactions, political leaders, sports teams, etc. If you were a woman who had suffered an abusive relationship you would fear to trust another man with your love. The reality is that, as long as we live, we are going to be in situations when we will have to decide whether to trust or not to trust.

We can make better choices about who and when to trust by trying the following principles:

Give Yourself Time to Think. Avoid making important decisions on impulse. It is always best to step back and give yourself time to consider all the aspects of the decision you are about to make. Think of the benefits but also consider what is at stake. You may need to do your own investigations about the person and seek the opinion of a friend with trusted judgment.

Beware of the Smooth Operators. These are people with sweet tongue. They can talk you into doing anything. They are the typical hard sellers who will want you to trust that you have got a good bargain. They may even make it look like what you are about to buy is scarce, just to lure you. Similarly, someone who wants to form a relationship with you may appear to be the nicest person on earth.

Beware of Fast Movers. If you have just met someone and, straightaway, he wants to be your best friend or lover, you need to be careful. Take your time to know the person well before committing yourself. Better to have a few friends that you can trust than lots of untrustworthy ones.

Probe into the person. What is this person really about? Does he want you for his own selfish benefit? Some people want to form a relationship with you for what they want to gain. They don’t care about what you gain or lose in forming that relationship. They are good at projecting false images of themselves. They may even flatter you to make you feel good. You need to ask yourself, Is this person really what he seems to be? Can we live together? Have we got common values? From talking to him, does he sound like someone who could keep a secret? What is his past like? Is he always criticising people? Is he contemptuous of other people? Has he got close friends or family? Does he like to help people? These are some of the questions that are worth asking yourself to enable you look beyond the superficial appearance of the person and discover his true nature to decide whether you can trust him.

Your Gut Feeling. You may feel an instant connection with somebody. You can’t ignore your emotions. But be cautious. Don’t make that the sole reason for your decision to trust. Your emotion can cloud your judgment. Take other factors into consideration as well.

In the world that we live, there is always going to be people who would hurt us. We can’t but form relationships. We just have to be more careful about who we trust.