Einstein to Lost Girls & Love Hotels: A Literary Journey

When I was a kid, all I read were fictional mystery stories. Between my dad being a writer and the adventure-styled books and comics I grew up on, it's no wonder I grew up writing those kinds of stories. Sadly, somewhere around 11 or 12 I stopped reading all together. Books just didn't grab my attention like they used to. This may have been because my school at the time crammed mandatory reading assignments down my throat; most were boring as hell.

It wouldn't be until I turned 19-ish when I found a book called "About Time: Einstein's Unfinished Revolutions" by Paul Davies at Barnes & Noble.

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On a whim, I read the first page, then the next, and the next... By the time I looked up, I had read through the entirety of the first chapter. This began my love for non-fiction and my love for science. This book was the first item on my Christmas list that year.

That moment sparked a yearning for learning (sorry, I had to.) Growing up in a Christian school, I wasn't privy to what science actually had to say about the questions our universe was begging me to ask. Real science was a Pandora's box I had to open and dwell in.

This went on and on.

Right around the age of 24-25, I spiraled out of control, in a good way, into buying every non-fiction book I could get my hands on. Half Price Books became my home away from home. I was so excited that I would often read half of a book and distract myself away to another book out of impatience.

All through the latter part of my 20's I continued to read only non-fiction, with the exception of a few fantastic Jack Kerouac novels. I was under the impression that I learned more from Non-fiction than its opposite. Entering my 30's and snarled with a new year, I've adopted a new line of thinking.

While at Half Price's clearance sale at Dallas Market Hall with my girlfriend, I found a book I generally wouldn't have glanced twice at. In that moment however, for some strange reason, this seemingly random book made its way into my hands and through the register. It was called Lost Girls & Love Hotels.  

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This was my last book to read in 2017 and coincidentally became the book that made me fall back in love with fiction. Quickly after finishing this book, I decided that 2018 would be a year of mostly fictional books. I say all of this to ask anyone who reads this post to recommend to me their favorite fictional titles so that I can add it to my reading list.

My goal is to knock out about 15-20 books this year which seems doable since I've begun using my lunches as a time for yoga and literary exploration. As a side note, I really don't like long novels and generally don't finish them, so please recommend books under 300 pages.

So far this year I've read Milk and Honey which was fantastic, but is sort of a non-fiction, autobiographical poetic book. My first fiction of the year I started this past Monday called, "The House With a Clock in Its Walls" which will be made into a movie later this year by Eli Roth.

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Bring on the recommendations!

Theresa Kachindamoto: Fighting for Equality, Education, and Children in Southeastern Africa

With all of the negative headline stories in the world right now, I thought I'd diverge from the populous and take an article-moment to give praise to a certain leader. I first heard about her last year in a YouTube video posted by the BBC. She is a leader of roughly 900,000 people and the paramount chief, or Inkosi, of the Dedza District in the central region of Malawi.

Her name is Theresa Kachindamoto.

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Theresa is best known to the media as a leader who has stopped over 1,500 child marriages. This is a huge win for Malawi. Not only because forcing children to marry is wrong (obviously), but because in doing this, HIV is expected to slow.

As of 2012, Malawi was one of the poorest countries in the world and 10% of their population had HIV. 

Young girls, sometimes as young as seven, are subject to sexually abusive traditions that include sexual initiation camps for kusasa fumbi (cleansing)
— Wikipedia

In 2015, Malawi passed a law that forbade marriage before the age of 18. However, a portion of the population still sell their children for a lobola (bride price). If the thought of children being sold into marriage makes you feel sick, imagine the way these young girls feel. 

A single decision changed 16-year-old Mumderanji Loyidi’s life. Although she was a promising pupil at Lisungwi Primary School in Neno, southern Malawi, Mumderanji recalls the day that she was told that she would be marrying a man who was three times her age.

Then only aged 13, Mumderanji – who was orphaned at the age of nine – could not believe that her uncle would be sending her to get married at such tender age.

“I had just sat for my primary school leaving certificate and I was young and childish,” Mumderanji told Equal Times in an interview.

Now divorced from her 42-year-old husband and back in school, Mumderanji is one of the estimated 50 per cent of Malawian girls who ends up as a child bride.
— Equal Times

 

Even though the overall fight for child marriages continues, Theresa persistently fights for this and better education for both boys and girls. Malawi is a country where poverty is commonplace and education is scarce. As the paramount chief, she plans to overturn both of these issues.

Photo courtesy of Yahoo

Photo courtesy of Yahoo

I'm not sure that I can point to many current U.S. leaders that are having the same impact on their country as Theresa Kachindamoto has had on hers. She will forever be added to my list of heroes and I can't wait to see what else she achieves for her country and woman's rights in general. 

I've attached a really great video below on an interview of hers back in 2016.

Publishing Two Books in Two Different Ways

I'm incredibly excited to announce that my book, The Very Strange Universe of Doctor Natalia Zeal, is finally ready for publication. I currently have two books I'm attempting to publish, but in two separate ways. The second of the two is The Life and Death of Herbert the Star, which is a children's book I wrote and then had illustrated by Joanna Winograd

(Sneak Peak of the Inside Cover)

(Sneak Peak of the Inside Cover)

Brief Synopsis of the two:

The Life and Death of Herbert the Star - This illustrated children's story covers the birth, life, and death of a very special star and his planetary friends.

The Very Strange Universe of Doctor Natalia Zeal - The Very Strange Universe of Doctor Natalia Zeal is an experimental writing project where a collection of short stories were written and then puzzled together to create a complete time line across the cosmos. Our story begins on Earth in the near future where most diseases are curable and any human body part can be replaced. Despite predictions of Earth's population reaching a counterbalance as it has in the past, the Earth continues to become over crowded. Dr. Zeal comes up with an off-planet plan, but when things go awry, it's up to the doctor to try piece together her life and survive. This story is an ode to the creative process of developing a story and to all of the strong women that keep our society in motion.

(Early concept art for the cover)

(Early concept art for the cover)

The above image is not the book cover, but rather a placeholder as my friend and graphic designer Holland Bangura designs the cover. I plan on putting out my Natalia book on February 14th for Valentine's Day. I will be self publishing it through Amazon in paperback and ebook form.

I decided on this publication route because I expect this book to not be a very mainstream novel. The book is, at its core, a science fiction/romance with a little bit of horror mixed in. My goal writing it was to write a few different stories and then challenge myself to piece them all together into one interwoven storyline.

While I am very satisfied with the end result, after letting a group of people read it, I found that half enjoyed it and half found it confusing. I'm completely okay with this. I got a lot of feedback. Some of it I used to twist and change the story a bit and some I disregarded.

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However, The Life and Death of Herbert the Star, I've been shopping around to book publishers and am currently awaiting decisions on a few that responded and vote biannually on what books they will publish. 

Either way, I'm hoping 2018 is a big year for writing. I appreciate everyone who has supported me so far and I hope those of you out there that still read books and care to try mine out, will enjoy them.

To learn more about my past books and future ones, check out my Books page below.