Friday, August 20, 2010

And the winner is...

After randomly generating a winning name from a free tool online, the winner of A Heart To Mend AKA AHTM is none other than...(drumrolllllll)... Diamondhawk! I will get the ebook across to you ASAP. Please make sure to leave Ms Myne a review on Thank you all for participating. Watch out for more juicy giveaways from this blog.

It looks to me like H may have gotten chucked out by the machine which I unfortunately did not foresee or could do anything about. So, it may be a good idea to leave your real name in the post as entry for a contest if your google screen name is just one letter in the future. I'm just saying. That's all folks. Till next time...TGIF! We wish Ms Myne the best at LABBX tomorrow. May she sell lots of AHTM and may she make fruitful industry contacts...


Monday, August 16, 2010

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT/BOOK GIVEAWAY: Myne Whitman, author of "A Heart to Mend"

Myne Whitman is a debut author of a romantic novel set in modern day Nigeria which has been received quite well both in Nigeria and in the United States. Myne is fast becoming a force to reckon with in the literary world. Having recently read A Heart to Mend AKA AHTM, I can see why. It’s an excellent first novel and I can only look forward to more great work from this prolific Nigerian writer.

Myne also runs an award winning personal blog mynewhitmanwrites, among many other projects she has under her wings including writing for bellanaija. This lady definitely wears many hats.

I am honored to be able to host her on my blog for this interview. She has been featured on blogs, magazines, newspapers and more. Everywhere you turn now, it’s Myne! Here is my interview with Myne Whitman.

Please comment on the interview to be entered to win an ebook version of AHTM.

What inspired you to write AHTM, Myne?

I have always been intrigued by the principle of unconditional love. Also, when I started reading the Mills and Boon Romance novels as a young adult, their stories had a big influence on my writing. Now when I decided on full time writing, I went back to that genre. The characters and issues dealt with in A Heart to Mend are from contemporary peoples and the issues that occur in relationships.

How long have you known you wanted to be a writer professionally and nothing else?

I have always known that being a writer was one thing I could do. Since I was very young, I was quite creative. I've been writing, drawing and painting and sketching house and dress designs. Right now, I won't say I'm a professional writer, there is no MFA, degree or writing workshop certificates. I'm just a full time writer. It's something I love doing and a choice I made just last year after I got married and moved to the United States.

How did your pseudonym come about? Why a pseudonym?

I have been using a pseudonym since I completed my first story while in university. It is simply the translation of my real names. When I write, I think in English since that it the language I write in and my pen name flows from that. For me, it is a way of channeling my creativity and retaining my privacy at the same time. I reserve my real name for more official and professional stuff.

Tell us a little bit about how and why you decided to self publish.

Several factors were involved, the major one being that I was now a full time writer. Others included the fact that the world has come to terms with the internet age and self publishing and other less conventional means of getting a book to an audience were beginning to take root. Talk about eBooks, kindles and Nooks and other such technology and I saw that it was worth a try.

Also my blog, Myne Whitman Writes (which recently won several awards including Blog of the Year at the Nigerian Blog Awards) had such a loyal following that I wanted to give them a chance to read the story. Most of them had been following it on my blog and were very supportive. The experience so far has been worth it. I am so amazed by the people who have accessed and read the book and the fact that they all seemed to come away with something even issues I had not really focused on.

What was your writing process? Did you have an outline? Did you have a skeletal/short story first or did you just write without knowing exactly what would happen next, allowing the story to take on a life of its own?

My writing process is pretty basic. Once I have my laptop, I’m good to go. I usually blog a bit before I start writing, something about reading all that different styles and stories. Sometimes I also like to listen to slow ballads while I write some emotional or love scenes. I am usually a plotter. I try to have an outline of all the chapters to include in a manuscript, but after that, it’s freewheeling all the way for the scenes or what could happen.

The inspiration for my writing and characters come from all over. I might have this idea and then see how it is handled in this TV series or movie or something. Or I have this character running around in my mind and then I come across the perfect scenario to try her out in. Then at times, I have these very funny dreams, where I dream up whole stories or at least scenes and even character backgrounds.

Did you intend for it to be purely entertainment or did you have a message in there especially for young ladies looking for love?

I usually leave my readers to deduce the themes in my stories. The only overarching message is that love can make a way if you allow it and that romance is not dead. It's the basic premise for romance novels. But in telling it and through the characters, I try to weave in topical issues that are valid for everyday life.

We haven’t had a romance novel based in Nigeria in a long time though we have had several contemporary literature pieces. How did you decide to write one?

First and foremost I wanted to write a story of love and finding oneself. Deciding to write a romance was from my own experience as a reader. I read widely but while literature pieces have to have a story to hook me, I will give any popular fiction a chance. I also felt that there were not enough romance novels set in contemporary Nigeria, and that I could do something to change that. Therefore, I used the events or stories I’ve heard or read about in real life Nigeria of the last few years to create a lot of these themes in A Heart to Mend.

Did you believe some may perceive it as wrong or alien to our culture to vividly paint a certain picture of love and romance?

Some reviews have already pointed that out but most agree that love and romance are age old topics and there will always be stories about human relationships. A few fellow writers asked if I was not boxing myself in yet I remember that in the seventies, eighties and nineties, there were lots of Pacesetter novels whose stories were based on love and romance.

How has AHTM been received? Has there been any opposition so far or has it been love and acceptance all the way?

I think A Heart to mend is a niche book. Most people outside this romance niche may not have heard of it. Those in the niche, cannot help but love it. There has been no opposition but critiques have been pouring in. People are eager for the next book, at the same time, they want a better product. It could be typos, writing style, or general content. I actually look forward to such feedback.

Have you ever written a love scene and if not, would you be comfortable writing a love scene even though it may be frowned on by our culture? Are you willing to push to envelope?

A Heart to Mend contained several love scenes. A reader actually complained that she wanted the characters to have sex which did not happen, lol. I won't say I'm pushing any envelopes by writing about lovemaking or sex. This is what we do everyday in our lives and Africa is one of the most populous continents. In my WIP, there is actually even more scenes like that and the excerpts I post on my blog are causing a furore already.

How easy was it for you to make your setting Nigeria, since you no longer reside in Nigeria? Did you have to travel back home to refresh your memory?

It wasn't too hard since I haven't been out of the country for too long, barely four years. However, Google maps and images played a great role. For instance, I never lived in Lagos where AHTM is set, only visited but when you plug the street you want on Google, you see the houses and neighbourhood. Google Earth is amazing and on slow days, I visit my old place in Scotland and drive by my favorite haunts. I can't wait for street view to be deployed in Nigeria too, right now I only have satellite view.

AHTM is fiction and romance. What else do you write?

I write short stories that pass more for literature pieces and I also write poems and articles/ opinion pieces.

Are you working on any new project at present and is it similar to AHTM or different?

I have my work in progress, also a romantic suspense novel which I hope to complete by the end of fall. The working title is Ghost of the past. In GOTP, Efe is a young girl who is separated from Kevwe, her former fiancé, by a series of traumatic events, and now wants the past resolved before she can accept his love again.

What’s next for Myne Whitman?

I look forward to telling more stories, publishing more books, and doing more for the Nigerian writing community through my website

Thanks for granting the interview which incidentally is my first blog interview/author spotlight. Where can we find you online or otherwise Myne?

My email is . I blog at and on Facebook and Twitter, I'm /Myne.Whitman and @Myne_Whitman respectively. I will be in Los Angeles this weekend at the LABBX.

***Please remember to comment on the interview to be eligible to win an ebook version of AHTM.***

Ground Zero Mosque

I have tried to stay away from controversial issues mostly since the last presidential elections. I have instead focused on fostering peace. I have not detracted from that and I hope at the end of this post, nobody is angered but rather enlightened. Once again, the world would be a much better and peaceful place if we would put ourselved in other people's shoes. And that's everybody.

All over the news this morning there's an outcry against the strong push to build a mosque near Ground Zero. And with good reason too. But have you considered the other side to the story?

A little personal background here: If you google Jos killings, you will see just how many thousands of Christian men, women and children have been killed by Moslem extremists in Nigeria in recent months. I have every right to feel even worse than any American about Islam. (If you are up to it, please click here for gruesome pictures of Jos killings in Nigeria. Be warned: there are dead bodies and mass graves in the pictures!)

As someone who grew up in a country where Christians have always been and are still being killed off like chickens by Moslem activists, I could easily take the stance of detesting all moslems. But I don't. Why is that? Because every Moslem is not deranged and crazy or fundamentalist. There are very good Moslems that make me want to be a better me. They pray five times a day despite all ridicule about the routine and as much as it is frowned upon by non-moslems. There are days I don't even get a chance to pray before I leave the house because I woke up late and I have to catch up with my quiet time later in the day. Some Moslems dress differently and have to endure stares all day every day. Could I do that? I don't know. I haven't tried.
I do agree that President Obama's two comments would have sounded better if it came in the same speech after he had thought it through and not as an addendum. But he is still not wrong. America was built on the premise of freedom (the land of the free) and the respect of fundamental human rights. It would actually be unconstitutional to tell the Moslems they cannot build that mosque. It is truly not against the law for them to build it on private property anywhere in the United States. But like he alluded to, the wisdom in that is a different story and is questionable. I don't want his job. It is hard to be president of everybody and to represent everybody's fundamental human right despiteand regardless of his personal opinion. It is hard.
That being said, is it expedient to build this mosque at that location? NO. Is it sensitive? NO. Will it foster peace? NO. I believe that not all things we want to do will foster peace in the community and it would be an insensitive move, albeit not against the law to go ahead with this mosque given the background of 911 and Islamic terrorists. It would be nice if we all thought it through, first.
Can we all just get along please? And can we first put ourselves in other people's shoes? That way, the people with the outcry will be more sensitive to the Moslem religion and respectful of our individual differences just like those with the proposal to build will also be more sensitive to the general climate in America about their religion. I hope both partis can have a conversation and resolve this.
It's like having a family member who is grown, an adult who keeps bringing shame to the family. You cannot control them. You cannot disown them. And even if you did, it wouldn't change much. You may even have the same last name. Yet you and this person are like night and day. Would it be right for people to assume you are the same as this family member just because there is a relationship with them that you did not ask for and you cannot change? No. We are all individuals and ultimately only responsible for ourselves and our underage kids. Even Lawrence Fishburne at this point can't do much about aspiring porn star Montana Fishburne even if he cries himself to sleep every night. Grow up people. These are the grays. It is definitely not a black and white issue.
Once again, can we judge less, talk less, listen more and most importantly, can we all just get along?
PEACE. And not only in the Middle East this time (though that's needed too) but in America!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

You Get What You Ask For...You Reap What You Sow...

This message came to mind at least twice in the same day so I had no choice but to write a post about it. As I drove home from work the other day, I listened to an interview on the Michael Baisden Show featuring the Singer Estelle from the UK. What struck me outside of the updates on her recent work, collaborations etc was when she mentioned that she had been at this for ten years. I thought about it and I probably heard about her two years ago. Granted that I am not the prolific music lover but still, it proved one thing to me yet again. It takes time to build a brand but if you stick with it, perfect it and put your all into it, you'll get there.

I have heard many authors say they've been at it for six years, ten years and such and I've just now heard about them or read one of their book. Some have said to me that they have written ten books and I just now picked up book number ten.

The problem is that we often want it now but we don't want to put in what it takes to get it. People like Beyonce have put in a lifetime of effort and discipline from her whole family and not just her. Fame and success do not come easy.

I have been doing some interviews recently on websites, blogs, etc. As I thought about some of them today, one thing struck me. The difference between a good or an excellent or even a possibly mediocre interview does not only depend on me, it also depends on the interviewer. There are interviews where no matter how hard I tried to make it fun, because of the way the questions were asked, it could never sound quite as interesting as I would like if I was to not go off on a tangent! On the other hand, some inetrviewers were so good or so in tune with me and my message that it had no choice but to come across as a great interview, even with little effort on my part and just being myself.

Everything in this world has a cause and effect. You get what you ask for and you reap what you sow. If you put no effort in, there is very little likelihood of success. We need to pay our dues and all else hopefully will follow as God blesses out effort. Flukes do happen but how often? Do you really want to leave it up to a very slim chance? I think not. And even though hard work does not always give the desired result, it definitely feels better to have put your whole heart in it as opposed to never trying and never getting a chance to see if it may have worked.

This can be applied to everything in life: your job, relationships, marriage, food, construction, etc. Name it, it applies.

May God help us to have the patience and the wisdom to pay our dues so that when the time is right, we will reap what we sowed.


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

“It’s a Privilege, Not a Right!”...Yes, you…I’m Talking to You!

While away on a mini vacation recently with my family, I had cause to try to teach a two year old the difference between a privilege and right. Early? Probably. But hopefully if I repeat it enough times, it will start to stick at some point :)

We decided to get a car rental to make our stay out of town more palatable and to facilitate transportation, to state the obvious. Of course, if I were to look around the parking lot of the car rental company and I was told to pick any vehicle and it was gratis, I would probably go with the fully loaded Cadillac escalade. But we all know it doesn’t work that way when you’re paying for stuff! So we went with a sedan–one that was big enough for us (my family of three) and all of our luggage, at the barest minimum. And yes, I am a packer! The package obviously did not include a DVD player or a GPS system. We had other means of finding our way that was free and that worked just fine.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with the Escalade. We would have had a blast in it. But it wasn’t pragmatic, essential, necessary, practical and may I add affordable to that list of descriptive terms?

My toddler was very good for the first three days. On day four she casually asked as we drove away from the hotel if she could watch TV and I’m not even sure what my answer was at that point. I thought she was kidding right? Right!

Much later in the day she asked a little more emphatically this time.

“I want to watch TV,” she said to me in a slightly low tone, while smiling cheekily but almost as if she was thinking, It won’t hurt to ask.

“You know there’s no DVD in this car baby,” I answered smiling as well but my tone sounding like You’ve got to be kidding me right?

She then said to me, “Why not?”

“We might need to ask the manufacturer about that one honey! Why didn’t they install a DVD player when they made this car?’”

“We need to have TV.” That was my little munchkin still on the same issue, after attempting to digest my answer.

At this point I take on the attitude of Oh no she didn’t. “We don’t NEED to have anything honey. We don’t need to have DVD in mama’s truck back home. We don’t even need to have a truck…or a car. We need to be thankful for whatever we have my dear.”

Thankfully, she looked quite satisfied with my explanation and we went on about the rest of our day quite satisfactorily.

Then I thought to myself, It’s a privilege and not a right. And at that point it was a learning point even for me, probably more so than my little mama. It’s just one of those things we need to remind ourselves of every so often, so as not to lose sight of what’s really important such as life, love, family and friendships.

Every now and again, we need to remind ourselves to be thankful for everything we have because if we didn’t have them, we’d still be alive, and it’s a blessing that we do have them. It’s a privilege, not a right.

BLESSINGS my people!

Little J doing her favorite thing in the back of mama's truck: watching a Leapfrog DVD!