Monday, 20 November 2017

The Story That Won First Prize


This is the story which won me that Amazon gift card. The one I'm using to buy anyone who wants one, a copy of any book you want (of mine - see google form at the bottom.) What I like about winning a prize with this story is that it's one of my crazy wacko concepts and frankly I was expecting it to be thrown out without ceremony. If you know me at all you know I like to avoid the beaten path when it comes to storytelling. I'd rather beat on the poison ivy with a machete than take the pig path. Only in my head of course. Real nature has chameleons and snakes...I'm gonna take the road. 
So here it is. 
Comments are love.

Copyright © 2017 by Annemarie Musawale All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

Clyde and His Bonnie

Iman wiped his shoes on the rug outside of the bar. Sure, this was some Podunk town in Texas and the way the wind was blowing dust everywhere…his gesture was probably pointless. But that wasn’t the point of wiping his shoes anyway. He wanted these small town hicks to know he was a civilized gentleman with manners. With his dusky skin and curly hair, it was necessary.
The bartender looked up as he walked in, an assessing look in his eye. He looked down again and continued dusting the counter so Iman guessed he’d passed the test. He ambled slowly up to the counter, taking in every aspect of the room.
This was a dying town, a relic of happier days before the assembly plant was outsourced overseas. Iman was probably the first stranger they’d seen in a while.


“Hey. I’ll have whatever’s on tap,” he told the bartender. The man nodded, picking up a relatively clean glass and filling it up. He placed it on the counter and then picked up his rag. He didn’t move away so Iman took it as his cue.
“I hear there’s a poker game here every Wednesday night. Any chance I can get a buy-in?”
The man raised his blue eyes narrowing them at Iman, “whose askin’?”
Iman stuck out his hand, “Name’s Cole Sprouse, looking to make some money to buy me some fuel. Got me a job in Dallas waitin’...”
The bartender looked down at his hand with suspicion before reaching out slowly to shake it. Iman had found on his travels that if a man shook your hand, he was less likely to stab you in the back.
At least, not right away.
“Game’s in the back,” he said.
“Thank you, kind sir. And you are…?” Iman held on to the bartender’s hand, widening his whiskey eyes at him.
“Dan Shumpert,” he said.
“Nice to meet you, Dan,” Iman said with one last vigorous shake. He had some money to make and no time to lose. Deadlines were looming.
Iman was winning steadily and his opponents were getting steadily more upset. He figured it was time to bail and pushed his chair back to stand up.
“Uh, well fellas it’s been-” he began to say.
“One more game,” interrupted the sweaty guy on his right with five o’clock shadow and a dirty wifebeater. Iman had been keeping an eye on him because he seemed like the kind to keep a gun under his chair.
“Uh, you don’t have any collat-” he began to say.
 Wifebeater guy looked up at the beefcake looming in the doorway and said, “Bring her.” he cut in.
Iman sat up straighter. What was going on?
Before he could catch his breath, a young woman was pushed into the room. She had zip ties on her wrists, tying her hands together. Her long silky black hair hung halfway down her back in a greasy curtain and her white dress could have done with a wash. Her black eyes were wide with fear as she stared at Wifebeater guy.
“What’s-” Iman began to ask.
“Your entire stake for the girl,” Wifebeater guy said.
Iman stared at him in shock, “You want to wager…a person?”
Wifebeater guy shrugged, “She’s mine to do with whatever I please. Bet or no bet?”
There was no way he could stand up and walk away. Not when these people were…wagering humans.
“Bet,” he said.
Wifebeater nodded at the dealer who immediately began to shuffle cards. Iman could not stop staring at the girl as she stood shivering behind Wifebeater’s chair. She was tall, maybe five eight, voluptuous with her heavy breasts and ample hips, tiny waist in between. But it was the look in her eyes that drew him again and again. She looked like a trapped tiger, looking for an opening to escape. Iman resolved there and then, that he was going to help her. He looked down at his cards, knowing with even more certainty than before, that losing was not an option.
Iman grabbed the girl’s hand, pulling her out of the Saloon at a run. Wifebeater guy had not been expecting to lose and it had been tricky getting out of there without a fight. He skidded to a halt in front of his Camaro, pushing her in before getting in after her before gunning the engine. He raised a lot of dust himself as put the pedal to the metal. They careened out of town, one eye on the rearview watching for a tail. Iman didn’t stop until he’d put two hundred miles between him and the Podunk town. Too tired to drive anymore, he stopped at a no-tell motel on the side of the road. Parking in the driveway, he turned to the girl.
“So…what’s your name?” he asked.
She looked at him as if she was thinking about pretending not to understand what he said. But at last she sighed and turned to face him.
“Will you untie me if I tell you?” she asked.
Iman jumped. He’d completely forgotten about the zip ties, “Of course I will damn.” He said fishing for the knife he kept in his stocking. He pulled it out holding it toward her. She held out her hands, too trustingly he thought, and let him cut through her restraints.
“So, you going to tell me your name?” he asked.
“It’s Honey,” she said.
Iman smiled at her, looking into her eyes, “It suits you,” he said looking down at her arm, “that’s the exact color of your skin.”
Honey smiled, “And what is your name? Prince Charming?”
Iman smiled, holding out his hand to be shaken, “My name is Iman Bridges. And I am here to rescue you.”
Honey shook his hand with a laugh, “Yeah right. Are you getting us a room or what?”
“Your wish is my command,” Iman said suddenly feeling like he had indeed won the lottery.



Fill in the form with a book of your choice and Merry Christmas. First come, first served.


Friday, 17 November 2017

The Highs, the Lows, The Life of an Artiste


You know, mostly this week has consisted of good news. So  I don't know why I feel kinda depressed. I guess I'm waiting for it all to turn bad or something. Or I have burnout. Anyway, not your problem.
Let us start with the good news then.
Child of Destiny is back in circulation!
Yaaassss! I was really worried there for a minute.



It made me doubt myself.
Well if there has been a week for doubting myself, it's been this one. For one thing, I got my first reviews for In Search of Paradise...both three stars. I suppose that's not too bad right? 60% grade is a pass.
Right?
Wrong!
I haven't felt more like a trash writer than I've felt this week. I found myself questioning my vocation. Is this really worth the heartache I wondered? Maybe I should just chuck it all in and go live in a commune or something.
(I really hope this is some sort of hormonal thing because being this dramatic all the time is going to be exhausting.)
But being me, I had to psychoanalyze why the fuck I felt like such a failure. I think it goes back to my mother; she had such high standards for me. Getting 60% would definitely have not been acceptable to her.
"You can do better than that," she would have said.
And so she created this expectation in me that I must be always above average or nothing at all. It's generally played havoc with my life I can tell you because you're going to be crap at something or other. And it always hits me hard when I do just okay. It has to be excellent or nothing at all.
It dawned on me some time in my musings that I may be a perfectionist. Which sucks because I hate perfectionists; they're so unrealistic!
I guess it also explains my mood this evening. I missed a deadline and a client canceled a contract and I was legit ready to chuck it all in and live as a hobo on the street. Thankfully my son talked me down; without being aware that that was what he was doing; him and DJ Khaled actually. Check my Instagram if you don't believe me...
I entered a competition and I won...I did tell you it's been mostly a good news week. I submitted a short story to the Mini Romances Short Story Writing Contest. Shock on me when I won first prize. I'd just been reading Awesomely Luvvie's post about how two years ago or something she was ugly crying into her beer feeling like a failure and then she got a phone call to say she'd won a competition. And I said to myself, "Yeah well...that isn't going to happen to me." *continues to wallow in self-pity*
Well, that was yesterday. Today I won a competition.
Woah, right?
So anyways, my prize is supposed to be a $25 dollar amazon gift card. I'm gonna use it to buy books for you. Fill in the form below, choose the book you want, and Bob's your uncle.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Of Witch Hunts and Which Hunts

The lynch mobs are out in force these days huh? I always feel uncomfortable when the pitchforks and angry mobs come out. Especially since they seem so selective. Louis CK came out of the sexual harassment closet last week. Unlike the other guys he didn't try to fight the power, but just was like, "Yeah, I did it."

p.s. Why do these pervs all look like pale skinned homeless drunks?
I read his apology. It was full of how much these women 'admired' him and how he 'took advantage' of their admiration by asking them if they wanted to see his penis...
That kind of puzzled me because assuming he was meeting these women in business conditions, what part of the business meeting involves the notion that your colleagues might want a peek at your privates?
I tried to understand it using my one and only guinea pig; my son. So like Michelle Obama said, it's true in my case, I did kind of mollycoddle him except that I didn't. I say that because looking at men around me, I kind of figured that they have really fragile egos because they didn't have a foundation of a sense of self. So I always tried to give my kid that. To let him know that he was valued and that he was capable and I always tried to let him make decisions for himself just so that he knew he could. I could tell you how this backfired on me in adolescence but this isn't a parenting post.

So yeah, he does have a belief in himself and in his importance in the world. And when he talks about girls, maybe he does feel that he's really important to their happiness. Certainly, he thinks (knows) that he's important to mine. I see how he goes around feeling cocky and like the greatest thing since sliced bread. But that's just teenagerhood, right? And even with all that, I don't think he would whip out his penis to show someone because he thought they admired him. I mean, I'll ask him, but I don't think the notion would occur to him.
So if that notion wouldn't occur to a cocky teenager, why would it occur to a full grown, middle-aged man? These are just some of the things I wonder about.
However, back to the lynch mob.

So Louis CK was masturbating in front of women and the lynch mob is very annoyed with...Aziz Ansari.
Yep.
They mad at Aziz because TWO YEARS AGO, when asked by a Daily Beast reporter about his mentor, he said: "I'm not talking about that."
What people seem to forget about these harassers is that that's what they might be TO YOU, but they are other things to other people. Aziz didn't rush to Louis' defense. He didn't try to justify what the man was doing. He just said, "I'm not talking about that."
To blame him for that is like blaming Nicki Minaj for paying her brother's legal costs. He might be a disgusting child rapist, but he's also her brother. Loyalty is a rare and precious thing, especially in this day and age. I'm not going to blame anyone for standing by their friend.
All these accusations being flung about left and right are making me uncomfortable. The only court that seems to matter is that of public opinion. How about someone files a police case? Sexual harassment is illegal, right? It is a crime? So file a complaint. This business of bringing stories to the blogs, just allegations being published as fact...it's...unsavory.

Besides, getting all these men fired is not the solution. Oh, I'm not saying they should keep their jobs; I'm just saying it's not the solution. What is really required is a paradigm shift.
In the eighties and nineties, AIDS swept across Africa, taking whole villages along with it especially in Nyanza and Uganda. This is because of the communities' sexual practices. All that was left was young children and old people. So the government of Uganda launched a campaign on safe sex. That led to an entire generation of Ugandans who grew up not knowing what it felt like to have sex without a condom. For to solve the problem, they had to engender behavior change in the whole entire country.
That's what this sexual harassment problem needs. Everyone needs to adopt new patterns of behavior. The lynch mobs are a fad. They will do nothing except make sure some men lose their jobs temporarily. In another, five to ten years, Brett Ratner, Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey will be "rehabilitated" and allowed to join polite society again. That's just how the weasel pops.
Changing your behavior is hard, it sucks balls. It usually never happens unless needs must. Like Bulitia in Requiscant in Pace, forced to go from husband and father and free man to slave bonded to a monster. He had to adapt in order to survive and that's what we'll all be forced to do.
This month is horror month (go with it) and you have a choice...between a pair of ghost lovers trying to survive the afterlife, or an African slave, trying to survive his new master who is just a little bit more than human. Which will you choose?

Friday, 10 November 2017

And Speaking of Karma...

It's been that week.
You know the one that has you wondering what you did to the gods to deserve this? Was it coz I said Tyrese is an idiot? I'm sorry...
So anyways, first of all, on the personal front, my dog had pups. Now, the thing is, the pregnancy was unauthorized as in fuck knows who the father is...But there it is, bitch got pregnant and we all just had to deal. So she gave birth sometime on Saturday night, to two pups much to the excitement of my son. Personally, I thought that it might be too soon because we just fucking noticed she was pregnant. Anyways, she gave birth to two on Sunday, then one more on Monday.
Freaky? You haven't heard the half of it.
On Monday night, the new one died. Maybe it was a stillbirth I don't know. I left all the midwifing to my son since he was so enthused.

The next day, I find one of the other two outside my kitchen door. Now it's too small to have climbed out of the nest my son made for them in a suitcase so I'm thinking someone carried it out and MURDERERDT it. My suspicions are of course on Becky, it's mother. As far as I know, there are no other dogs that come into the compound and Eagles don't fly at night...do they?
Anyway so there's one puppy left, I don't  have much hope for it now that it officially has The World's Most Negligent Mother. And my son left to visit his pops, so I'm all alone with Stranger Things 2 happening on my verandah.
So I wake up the next day and there's a new pup in the box. I don't know where it came from but Becky's behind is bloody.
Today I look in the box and the new pup hasn't moved. It might be dead. I really don't want to touch it to check. Where's my son when I need him? Damn shared parenting!
And then just for shits and giggles, Pronoun, my publisher sends me a random email on Monday informing me that they are shutting down and that I should take my books and fuck off.
Of course, their email was much more polite but that was the essence of it. Sooo, just when In Search of Paradise has gone live and I'm launching a new promo month, I have to unpublish all my books and shove off somewhere else...
Just to add icing on the cake, two blogs I was targetting to get interviewed on both call me this week like, "Hey! Let's do an interview!"
Yeah okay.
So my books are not available on my links, and not available to buy anywhere and these two people want to do interviews, one of which was gonna be on TV.
Sigh.
Well...had to postpone those, the TV one I don't even know, probably permanently and just wait patiently while my books get republished.
Icing on the cake?
Child of Destiny being blocked because of non-consensual sex.  On the very channels where it was for sale last week! I don't even know man. I'm appealing, it is under review. But just know that you can't find Child of Destiny anywhere at the moment.
Yes. I am crying.
Oh and don't think you've escaped because unlike pronoun, draft2digital is not able to sell books on permafree from Amazon, so if you want to download The Swamp is full of Mystery or Lunchtime Stories free, you have to go elsewhere. Or you can buy them on Amazon for $0.99
How has your week been?

Monday, 6 November 2017

Karma is a Bitch

"How people treat you is their karma. 

How you respond to it, is yours."
Do you agree?
I was thinking about this while I read an article interviewing author Jodi Picoult. She was reflecting on her own racism and telling a few stories of how black Americans seek to make the environment 'comfortable' for their white countrymen. One lady apparently carried a bottle of Voss water on the train to indicate to her fellow travelers that it was okay to sit next to her.
Frankly if it was me and no one wanted to sit next to me because of my very dark skin color, I would take it as a chance to spread myself out, put my bag on the bench next to me, extract a book, make myself comfortable, maybe put my feet up, and read for the rest of the journey. Because you know what? You not wanting to sit next to me is absolutely not my problem. And to make it my problem is to add stress to my life that I don't need.
Then she told this story about a black nurse. Some nazi wannabe had a baby born at the hospital where she works and when he saw the nurse working in the NICU he complained to the hospital admin that he did not want a black nurse touching his baby. Apparently, the hospital just made a note of it in his file...NO BLACK NURSE SHOULD TOUCH SO AND SO'S CHILD.
Question; does that mean that they had to take a look at their rotation to make sure there was always a white nurse on staff? Or were there times when that child was left unattended because there was no white nurse currently working? What about black doctors? Were they also exempt? What if the only pediatrician was a person of color? Would the hospital have hired a new one to cater to the skinhead's kid? Just how far would everyone bend over backward to accommodate this racism? Americans really blow my mind sometimes. Not to say that there is no bias or racism anywhere else on earth, but America is the only place where it is a semi-official policy. Where segregation is still very much publicly tolerated. Like if that happened here, everyone would look at you like you like you just lost your damned mind and go about their business as if you hadn't said anything.
It must be stressful to live in that kind of environment. All the more reason not to make other people's actions your problem. That nurse should look at being banned from touching that future nazi like a break from work.
"Oh, the time I would have spent looking after this child, let's see, I could apply for a Ph.D. program with the money I'm going to get from the discrimination lawsuit imma file. Get out of this bullshit ward and go work for Johns Hopkins or something. The CDC."
Because you can wallow in the unfairness of life or you can take that lemon and make lemonade like nobody's business.

Speaking of lemons, dude! Have you heard +Rihanna rap on the new N.E.R.D song? Straight fire. Is there nothing my president can't do? I am further inspired. Now if I can turn that inspiration to focus, I would be on fire myself. My cousin posted an excerpt from a self-development seminar she was attending stating that focus was about feelings.That hit me right in my solar plexus because I've had difficulty finding focus for my ghostwriting work. I realized it is because I've been bored by it. Ambivalent. And if my feelings don't change, my work will definitely suffer. I think with nostalgia how much I used to enjoy putting pen to paper...okay fingers to keyboard; and I wonder where I lost it. I still have it with my own work, but for other people, not so much. I probably need to get that back; like yesterday.
Knowing the problem is half the solution right?
My problems are not entertaining, are they?

Tyrese's are though. I used to follow him on Instagram long ago, but I stopped because he's an idiot. No seriously, I'm not trying to insult him. He's a legit idiot. An idiot with lots of talent but not much sense. Kind of an idiot savant. But this last week or three he's managed to get himself in all the blogs with his Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson/Baby Mama feud. I kind of felt like, second-hand embarrassment for him because chile...You have to have some sort of chill. Some self-awareness. Otherwise, it gets real painful outchea in these streets. I suspect that secondhand embarrassment is what made the Smiths (Will and Jada) raid their petty cash and send him 5million to stay off the gram. Because seriously...ouch.
I think back to all the franchises Tyrese has been in, and I wonder at him saying he's broke. I remember that he fucked up the joint album he was supposed to do with Ginuwine and Tank because he wanted more money than them. And ended up making no money. Meanwhile, he's broke, or so he says.
Make good decisions people.
Same thing with Mary J. Like thirty years of hits and she's on negative eleven million.
What the fuck?
Meanwhile, my president lost almost all her money when she was just barely out of her teens, worked hard to make it back tenfold, and successfully sued her management to get her original eleven million back. What does she have that they don't? Good management? An education? what? And can they possibly get it? Is it too late?
It's nice to see that other people's lives are a mess right? It makes you think that you're not doing so bad. I rather look at people like Rihanna and feel inspired to do better than look at Tyrese and wonder what went wrong. A man has talent, he has opportunity, what does he do with it?
I'd rather ask that question of myself.
What I am trying to do with it, is edutain y'all with stories.
This month, November is horror month.
Don't question it, just go with it.
Have you read In the Shadow of the Styx yet?

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

The Power of Words

Hello. How was your weekend? Mine was...eventful. I'm still recovering. I'm sleepy and tired and behind in my work. Also, I haven't been paying any attention to you because I haven't had the energy to spare.
Does that happen to you too?

Sometimes you have just about enough energy to keep breathing and that's it. Ugh, speaking of breathing...I'm not doing that so well either.
Anyways, so I want to talk about words today. Words have power. They can cause revolutions, break hearts, change minds, elevate the spirit, or depress it. Kill. Hurt. Heal.
And yet we use them so carelessly every day, don't we? We fling them about like confetti, letting them land as they will without thought to consequences or impact. We're just talking, just joking, just being honest...

On Sunday my son and I went for dinner at a nearby hotel because we were too lacking in energy to cook. When we got back home, it turned out that my son had left the house keys at the restaurant. I'm sure many of you are familiar with that surge of irritation that happens when someone else is careless with our stuff. What do we tend to do about it?
Berate.
Belittle.
I was reminded of (spoiler alert) Jamie Fraser when Claire got lost on her way from a birthing. Her horse threw her and then disappeared so she was alone in the forest in a major downpour and with no way to get home. Anyways, bish bam boom, Jamie, and Ian found her and took her home. And as he was giving her a bath, he tells her that while he's aware that it wasn't her fault, he still feels like giving her a scolding to relieve his feelings. So Claire tells him to scold her in Gaelic because she'll only understand about half the words anyway. And that's what he does.

Back to my son.
So he says he left the keys, and I feel that surge of irritation. But just as I'm opening my mouth to tell him what a careless buffoon he is I pause. And I ask myself, who would you be helping by shouting at him? The deed is done. You can see by his face that he's expecting the word vomit you were about to pour on him. So instead I just held up the 100 bob I had in my hand and said: "Well go and get it."
I was still irritated so I called him a whole bunch of names in my head. Then I settled down and waited for him to come back. Just by his posture, and the way he moved fast to do anything I asked of him that evening and the next day, I could tell he was...relieved? that he hadn't gotten The Lecture. And it took me back to my own childhood and the endless lectures about every little wrong thing I ever did. And I resolved to always think before I opened my mouth, to anyone. Because what could be relieving feelings to one person might be a lifetime of trauma for somebody else.
Do you think Kevin Spacey thought about the impact of his words when he wrote that struggle apology? I think that he did. I think that he was thinking that if he said he was gay people would hesitate to come for him about Anthony Rapp because they would be scared to be labeled homophobic. And for sure, most news outlets led with the "Kevin Spacey comes out" part of the story and not the "Kevin Spacey molested a 14-year-old boy."
I have been Anthony Rapp and the way he says he feels even now was so familiar, I was like yeah, that is exactly how I would feel if I came face to face with that guy again. You're transported right back to that age, that level of fear, that level of helplessness. I'm glad I haven't seen him again. I can't imagine how it must be to see someone's face on TV every day. But back to the power of words; Kevin knew just what his words would do; he was trying to take the wind out the sails of Anthony's words. I'm glad people didn't let him succeed.
My son told me that three boys in his school were expelled for homosexual behavior. So I asked him "if they were caught having sex with girls would they have been expelled?" Because seriously, people being denied their education over their sexual orientation seems a bit harsh to me. And to think that gay people already have all these problems and Kevin Spacey is adding to them by saying, "Oh by the way, when you're drunk and you're gay sometimes you molest small boys" is just not helping.
So watch your words. Think before you speak and all that jazz.
Speaking of using my words, the National Gay and Lesbian Human rights commission could use your help. Whether you subscribe to the idea that gayness is wrong or right, surely you can see that to suppress someone's human rights because of their perceived immorality is not only hypocritical but just plain wrong. Hopefully reading In Search of Paradise will make you see that people are just people, regardless of who they love. Pre-order period is winding down. Three days and it's awverr. See you on the other side.