Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Spread the Good

In a time like this when most of what we are seeing and hearing are the horrible actions of humans, it is good to share news of good works by our peers and other people in the world. The goal of social media isn't only to spread the news of strife, suffering, violence, and terrorism but to also share news of love, kindness, goodness, and hope. I want to share with you an act of kindness by Blessing Bassey, the founder of Authentic B Foundation and her team because I think they are inspirational and motivational. On Friday, November 13, 2015 - World Kindness Day, Blessing and her team visited schools, a home for aging people, and a police station to spread love, speak and help people with needs, hand out gifts, and pray for them. You have no clue what a tiny act of kindness can do to a person. Sometimes, just a smile can change a person's perspective of life and give an individual a ray of hope.

Blessing Bassey is from Akwa Ibom state, Nigeria. She resides and works as a lawyer in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria. She is described by her friends and colleagues as a kind, God fearing, and fun loving person.

She wrote a piece in commemoration of the 2015 World Kindness Day. Here it is below.

by Blessing Bassey

Kindness can be defined as “the quality of being friendly, generous and considerate.” Our world today is full of evils like mischief, anger, selfishness and cruelty. These mannerisms are seeds that take root when sown by one person, and quickly propagates to the next, making the world a toxic forest of negativity. Kindness is the forest fire the world needs to burn away these undesirable trees.
It is sad to see that many people neglect this modest, yet effective fire of kindness. We must receive with gratitude every opportunity to show kindness, as it is the much-needed warmth in this cold world. Simple acts like a helping hand here and there, a show of compassion, encouraging words and a friendly smile are enough to turn around an already ruined day for someone. These acts remind people that they are loved and needed, which in turn repairs their bruised confidence and self-worth.
Now and again, people experience difficulties in their lives, stemming from their career, education, relationships, family, faith etc. These difficulties make them forget other people and get engrossed in their problems, leading to a negative reaction of selfishness. A selfish generation is the last thing the world needs today. Everyone, regardless of his or her situation must embrace kindness, as acts of kindness never go futile. Kindness reflects positively on the lives of both the doer and recipient. On one hand, the recipient is overwhelmed with feelings of joy and delight, while the doer is satiated with feelings of warmth and compassion. These positive reflections contribute immensely to making a world a better place to live in.
It would be very selfish to limit kindness to only humans. As a matter of fact, kindness is the driving force of the universe. All living beings that exist in nature respond to this language of kindness. Mute animals wag their tails in appreciation of kindness shown to them by their owners; plants grow, flourish and bear fruits also in appreciation of the kindness of their caretaker. Nature itself shows kindness by giving the sun, rains, seasons, etc. thereby sustaining the life of all its inhabitants.
Synonyms of kindness include altruism, benevolence, care, compassion, consideration, hospitality, magnanimity, and warmth. In all its variations, kindness is undisputedly considered a virtue by all religions. It is a variant of love, which is deemed the ‘greatest virtue’ in the Christian faith. It shouldn’t be regarded as a mere religious obligation, but should rather be imbibed in all spheres of life, be it in the family, neighbourhood, work, and even in business, because selfless deeds usually yield favourable rewards.
Popular American author Mark Twain once defined kindness as “the language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” He couldn’t be further from the truth as this language transcends boundaries and is comprehended by all. We must embrace kindness as a way of life, a habit, a common attribute rather than a rare trait. When this is done, we would have re-kindled the dying fire in our world today. No matter how small the act, always make a point of showing kindness to others and yourself.
Written in Commemoration of 2015 World Kindness Day (Friday, November 13th)
Inspiring the U in You

Like Blessing, I urge each and every one of us to be kind and spread love. Find Blessing Bassey on instagram as @authenticb900

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Writing Playlist

It is funny that I can't read when music is playing because I end up singing the song and getting distracted. But I have realized that it is different when I'm writing. Music actually helps in setting the tone of whatever scenario I'm concocting. With that said, here are some songs that do the trick.


Sad-tragic scenes
  • Tears of an angel by Ryan Dan
  • See you again by Wiz Khalifa ft Charlie Puth
  • Down by Jason Walker
  • Rust or gold by Jill Andrews
  • A team by Ed Sheeran
  • Need by Hana Pestle
Missing you-breakup-reconciliation
  • Find my way back by Cody Fry
  • Come back for me by Jaymes Young
  • Waiting game by Banks
  • Salvation by Gabrielle Aplin
  • Incomplete by Backstreet Boys
  • I can't make you love me by Adele

Happy-bubbly scenes
  • Happy by Pharrell Williams
  • Uptown funk by Mark Ronson ft Bruno Mars
  • I just haven't met you yet by Michael Buble
  • Tonight we are young by Glee
  • I wanna dance with somebody by Whitney Houston
  • Party rock anthem by LMFAO

Love-attraction-shy scenes
  • Falling in love in a coffee shop by Landon Pigg
  • Un giorno per noi by Josh Groban
  • god damn you're beautiful by Chester See
  • Little things by One Direction
  • Impossible by James Arthur
  • If you're not the one by Daniel Bedingfield

Kinky-sexy scenes
  • We don't have to take our clothes off by Ella Eyre
  • Love and light by ATB ft Amurai
  • Insatiable by  Darren Hayes
  • Avalanche by David Cook
  • Never let me go by Florence + The Machine
  • The first time ever I saw your face by Celine Dion

Uneasy-spooky scenes
  • The howling by Within Temptation  
  • Mad world by  Adam Lambert
  • O' death by Jen Titus
  • Echo by Jason Walker
  • Losing your memory by Ryan Star
  • Everybody wants to rule the world by Lorde

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Why Janus?

Not the book cover

The sequel of Facade is titled, Janus. The name came about the same way I chose the title of the first book. If you have read Facade, you'll find out that the name was as a result of an occurrence that took place near the ending of the book. Janus is a wilder book that tells of how Emma embarks onward from the journey that started in book one. She'll meet new people, and try to stand firm in a world that enjoys tripping people, and laughing at them when they fall.

I won't give away too much, but I'll share lines from book two as it progresses. The publishing goal for Janus is 2016. Meanwhile, you can order Facade on:

Amazon (available in hardcover, paperback, and Kindle);

Barnes and Noble;

Books A Million etc.

Happy Reading and look out for lines that I'll post from my exciting writing projects on Facebook, Twitter, my blog, Z & S (, and my website, 

(ukoemem - Author; Ola Y - Editor)

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Elba in Action

Idris Elba is a wonderful actor, no doubt about it. He has proven himself with several movie roles and satisfactory acting results time and time again. On the James Bond issue that has gotten many people riled up, Anthony Horowitz's comment was plain and simple, yet silly. It seems to me that Mr. Horowitz has forgotten that James Bond is a fictional character and Idris Elba can act like him if he knows how to embody the character. Idris Elba doesn't have to be a suave womanizer/ cool secret service agent in real life and I haven't heard anything concerning a James Bond audition that he did badly.

I understand that it might be odd to picture a black man doing that role. It's just like picturing a white man acting as Madea. But I don't doubt one bit that Idris Elba will be a great British Secret Service agent in a movie. Although, I don't see why it has to be James Bond. My reason is that when there is an iconic role that has featured actors with similar resemblance, it is difficult for change to be accepted. Let's not forget that when a writer describes a character, he or she paints a certain look. It's like writing a character and saying he's from Ghana and then a Hollywood casting department chooses a well-known light skinned American to play the role. It wouldn't make sense.

If you ask me about casting, I'll say that the original description for characters in the books or movies should be stuck with unless they are far-fetched and a better actor is found for the role. If there are complaints that there aren't enough roles for other races, well, this is an opportunity for writers to pick up their pens and deliver the service. Movie-making shouldn't be a political issue; movie-making should be a cinematic craft that should continue to grow and make us movie lovers scream in excitement. 

(ukoemem - Author; Ola Y - Editor)

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

My Experience in a Gathering of Book Lovers

I was fortunate to be a part of this past New England Authors Expo that took place in Danvers, MA. I'm thankful for Leo Maloney, the author of the Dan Morgan thriller series, for extending the invitation to me and making sure that I came prepared for what was in store.

The venue was picturesque. In fact, I would have been satisfied if I had gone there just to take photos. There was a beautiful lake with boats that were cleverly named. One of the authors even joked about naming her next book after a boat's name that was in the lake. 

I watched as authors chatted excitedly about their books to readers who bought and wanted their books autographed. I left my own table after some book sales and signing to gain the reader experience for a few minutes, asking authors questions about their books and publishing experiences. 

I noticed that at a point there were interestingly clad individuals and later found out that a Comic-Con was taking place in the same building.

I signed email lists, bought some books, took part in raffle draws, ate cheese and crackers, and later took more pictures when my friends arrived. All in all, this past NEAE was a day to remember and I extend my profound thanks to the organizers.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Opinions Opinions

I think I take criticism well. How else will improvement and growth happen in my endeavors? Sharing my book with everyone has been a wonderful experience so far with the usual challenges that I still think are wonderful experiences.

One challenge was quite interesting because I don't usually get into social and moral issues, picking sides and arguing as though I have all the answers. I just say what I think is necessary and move on. There was a reader who concluded that for including a certain content in my book, I was a supporter of a lifestyle and therefore indirectly advocated for it. Don't you just enjoy people like that? I do. In fact, they make me spend too much of my time wondering how their thinking process works. Anyway, I digress. So this reader said, "that part of my book ruined so much for him." I empathize with you, and yes, I'm being sarcastic.

People should know that artists, whether painters, movie makers or writers, use these mediums to create, express, interact, or plainly invoke reactions. They might not necessarily be a hundred percent in agreement with their work. If I sketch a picture of one girl punching another, does that mean that I condone violence? Do you have any idea why I drew that picture in the first place?

When I read how some people attacked E. L. James for her Grey book, I was like, "here we go again." If it's not your cup of tea, why drink it? I understand the pull of a curious mind but when you find out that something is not for you, why dwell on it? The woman wrote controversial series, which featured a lifestyle that wasn't openly talked about. It's uncomfortable and most people do not agree with this lifestyle. I don't remember hearing her telling anyone to become like Christian Grey. She wrote the books while people chose to be marveled by the character.

If you read past the synopsis of a book, then it's your business. If you don't like the book, then look for another one. To all those people who have the time to analyze people's literary work, try to keep it to constructive criticism. That would help the writer more. If you find that it's hard for you to stay objective, then look for other ways to impact lives positively. I can suggest a great way to use your time. How about fighting world hunger? Did you know that over seven hundred people in the world do not have enough food to lead a healthy life?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Shamelss Promotion - Happy Summer Reading

I'm sure you're all tired of hearing the word, Facade. That's what publicity is. 

The venue was a large Barnes and Noble store in West Oaks, Houston. It was my first book signing event. I was excited and nervous at the same time but I started to relax as I got to speak with more people about a book that they were genuinely interested in.

Pick up a book this summer, preferably Facade by Emem Uko, and others you've had on that list since 2012 ;)

Happy Reading!

Emem Uko at her first author signing event

 A big smile

Monday, June 8, 2015

Meet Ufuoma

I had the privilege, some time ago, to chat with Ufuoma about her love for fashion and plans to go to fashion school. It's a joyful feeling when a person's passion for something comes to fruition. I have seen Ufuoma's designs donned by people and I must commend her eyes for style and pattern mixing. I'll let Ufuoma tell you about her herself, her journey as a fashion designer, which has just begun, and her hopes for the future in this challenging, yet fruitful business.

Please introduce yourself?
My name is Ufuoma Akusu. I am a graduate of history and diplomatic studies from the University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria. I am also a graduate of Legs Apparel Fashion School in Abuja, Nigeria.

When did you decide to take fashion designing seriously?
I have always loved fashion right from my high school days. I would save up my lunch money to buy clothes just to look good. Also, I used to cut up my mom's wrappers in the process of trying to create stuff I had imagined. So after the mandatory National Youth Service, I decided to enroll in at a fashion school and I have not looked back since then. I breathe fashion and strive for excellence and perfection everyday.

What was the first piece you designed and who was it for?
I had actually been designing for my self right from my university days, but I didn't know how to sew then. I had a tailor who used to sew for me. But once I enrolled in fashion school and began sewing I made a pretty peplum skirt.
How do you distinguish your designs from that of your competitors out there?
Actually, I am just starting out but I love to work with Ankara and Swarovski stones and I also love to do embroidery and appliques on my clothes. I believe this makes me stand me out because my clothes are always stoned uniquely. When most people see my clothes they know it's "Izibesome Stiches," (this is my business name) and it means God is good in in my native "Epie" language in Bayelsa state, Nigeria.

How do you get inspired/Who inspires you?
I am inspired by lines and colors and by my environment. I am also inspired by culture and travels. I especially love the "Oyonyo" worn by the Efiks in Calabar, Cross Rivers state, Nigeria and the Ibibios of Akwa Ibom state, Nigeria. Right now in fashion, I am inspired by Stella Jean and Micheal Costello. I love Stella Jean's use of ethnic fabrics and how colorful her clothes look and I love Micheal Costello for his mermaid style dresses.
Who would you give credit for your motivation and pursuant of your dream as a fashion designer?
I would give credit to myself because I love fashion and I decided to go after it against all odds.
What are your current accomplishments in fashion?
I just registered my business name and it means a lot to me right now because I just started out.

Any plans on expansion?
Yes. I hope to go into ready-to-wear styles. I am so excited because the future holds a lot for me.
What is your long term goal in this career path?
My long term goal is to have a ready-to-wear line that would fall under high street fashion category. I hope to own flagship stores and then outlets all over the world and also hope to be a motivational speaker someday.
What should we watch out for?
Watch out for beautiful and embellished clothes from Izibesome Stiches. 
Any closing remarks?
Nothing good in life comes easy. It takes a lot of determination and dedication to achieve anything you desire. It's not going to be easy but it's going to be worth it.

Special thanks to Ufuoma Akusu
Interview by Ukoemem

Mr. Sore Thumb

A poem inspired by a three year old, who preferred her thumb to her delicious meals. See the video below for easy steps on how to make poem posters for kids.

Finished product.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Wrong Bullying Target, Sis!

What do you do when someone takes their sweet time and sends you a direct message that your photo is ugly and you should do yourself a favor and use Photoshop? Yes, I got that message from a person I do not know, have never met, and will never give the satisfaction in the world by replying. In fact, I started to laugh because I thought it was funny. This "child" is not even a memorable follower on Instagram and I can perceive her desperate cry for attention. I'm just trying to figure out a way to educate her to advocate for real photos to be used when representing one's self instead of filtered and Photoshop images that make people look less than who they are. Yes, less not more because take for instance, the models and celebs in magazines who are made to believe that they need work done because they don't look good enough. Therefore, their photos need tweaking and retouching. There should be a level of understanding among younger people who still look at magazines and wish to be like people on those magazines that the images have been altered in one way or another. So these young people, instead, should look for ways to improve themselves in whatever ways they strive to be. It could be, learning to be a good person and not a bully for a start. It could be, discovering and mastering a hidden talent of theirs. It could also be, pushing to exceed physical limits or pushing beyond a life goal. There is so much to this life than spending valuable time to prey on a person's self esteem.

I upload photos for different reasons. The photos always have a message, which are geared towards poking fun, giving encouragement, reminiscing about a moment, or just for the sake of having it available. There is a line that I cannot cross when it comes to photos that I post. I occasionally apply filters to some photos because of my love for the art of colors, lights, and aesthetics of my photo page. I prefer not to post professional pictures of mine that have been altered beyond recognition because I'm not the "doll" that is portrayed. I appreciate the lines, shadows, scars, structures, bones, flesh, varying complexions of the skin, and many more qualities that makes us human. Don't get me wrong, I'd choose to post the loveliest photo of the selection that I have and I'm sure to some people, my choice might be the worst of all. In the end, I'm not trying to please anyone.

My sixteen year old self would have cried at a corner when she read the comment but my present self just shook her head and wondered when she became so important that a person cared enough to "DM" those words. I've never been bullied based on my looks so this is new and the writer in me said she'll have to document it and share. I love fashion and have commented on people's looks. I focus on the fit of the clothing and style and know better not to condemn anyone on their sizes and features. What rights do I have to do such? We never know the stories behind anybody's lifestyle so we have no right to condemn them because they're fat or thin. I know people who eat a 100% better than I do but they struggle with weight gain. I also know people who are gluttons but they're thin like twigs. It's easy to judge when we see these two groups but we end up being dead wrong in our judgments. Unless a person cries for help, in words or actions, then we can intervene for their sakes. If not, keep your da*n comments to yourself.

To my bully, I won't block you from Instagram and I won't post altered photos for your benefit. Feel free to "unfollow" and go back to your ignorant hole or start loving yourself and appreciating that people are meant to be different because it's the uniqueness of us all that makes everything special in this world. 

(ukoemem - Author; Ola Y - Editor)

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Outlander's Darkest Episode Yet

I watch too many TV shows and would need to make it my full time job to write recaps or thoughts on them. I always have thoughts about every episode of TV shows I watch but sometimes keep those thoughts to myself or chat with friends who share the same interests or tweet about them. This time is different. You all know I'm a big fan of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series and you all have either read my blog post about my excitement for the TV series and my moaning when I had to wait so long for the series to return because of the break it took (aka droughtlander), after its eighth episode. In short, am definitely a fan of Outlander, the book and TV series, for the same reasons that anyone who loves great books and superb acting would have. Writing about the show was inevitable after watching episode 15 of this season (season 1) titled, "Wentworth Prison." If you are anywhere near any type of media, I'm sure you must have picked up something about Outlander and this particular episode.

First, it’s important to commend everyone that has a hand in making this TV series. It is rare to satisfy a "fandom" by casting actors that please us and then writing episodes and executing them to our satisfaction. Thank you for that! I read Outlander years ago and finished the last of the series this year. I wanted to get back to the first one before watching the TV series but after the first episode, I dropped my plan. I'll still revisit the book but also want to wait till the season ends on May 30th. Outlander never shies away from the reality of things as one would have imagined of the years that Diana Gabaldon wrote about. The people, their living situations and circumstances, the politics, and even the meaning of love and family. I embraced every moment in the book when I read it. Then watching the actors express what I had in my head, made me feel like I had won the lottery.

Up until episode 15 of season 1, the controversial episode was episode 9, which was dubbed "the episode with the spanking scene." Everyone had their opinion on it, from the spanking act being degrading to women to Jamie being a sadist. Now that the episode with Captain Jonathan Randall aka Black Jack and Jamie at Wentworth prison has aired, the spanking scene seems like a little pimple that healed within hours. I knew about Jamie's unfortunate encounter with Black Jack at Wentworth and thought it was going to be portrayed mildly for TV. Who was I kidding? I should have remembered that Starz network doesn't have tight censoring rules. I should also have remembered that the TV series had excellent writers, directors, producers, and actors, who would hands-down deliver the fans with great content and some ‘cherry on top.’

Truthfully, I watched the episode with some sort of difficulty. I kept telling myself that I didn't remember feeling like ants were crawling on me when I read the book and maybe I should have refreshed my memory before watching the TV series. I remember bile at the back of my throat when I read the book though. Then, realized that the reason for the seeming difference between the show and the book is that the content of the show was enhanced because we get to see more of what was not in the book. The first meeting between Jamie and Black Jack in his cell at Wentworth when Black Jack inflicted the injury on Jamie's hand was an example. I went through several emotions while I watched this episode. I paused it; said some bad words; scratched my hair; said a lot of "ew!" and screamed at the screen, telling Black Jack to leave Jamie alone or else. It was a wonderful episode and cannot imagine how Sam Heughan, Tobias Menzies, and Caitriona Balfe kept their cool after filming this episode and the much more dreaded one that is to come, episode 16, the season finale episode. 

It wasn't pleasant to watch because of how good and convincing the physical, emotional, and psychological torture inflicted on Jamie by Black Jack was portrayed. Tobias Menzies successfully tapped into the dark mind of this character, Black Jack, and showed how his actions revealed his disturbing personality. Sam Heughan was phenomenal in this episode because of the acting skills he displayed. There were several unfortunate circumstances that unfolded and Sam had to demonstrate different levels of acting. He played the role of a strong man, both physically and mentally, who kept fighting until he had that noose on his neck. Then he was also a man crippled by pain but still willing to stand his ground. Then came the sacrifice of doing what he clearly didn't want but he chose to do it for the sake of love. It takes a highly skilled actor to deliver such versatility in one episode. Caitriona Balfe's portrayal of Claire is so refreshing and works perfectly because she has made me believe that Claire, her character, is deeply in love with Jamie. My stomach clenched with sadness when she held the box that contained Jamie's belongings, which were stripped from him before he was locked up (chained). When she walked out of Wentworth Prison gate and couldn't contain her emotions, I blurted out a "wow" because that alone made me realize how weak and hopeless anyone would feel if they heard that their husband had come close to hanging himself that day and would still be hanged later. I was blown away by her portrayal of Claire's will to continue to fight to save her husband even when it seemed impossible to achieve. Caitriona's display of female strength is welcomed to my TV.

I hope Outlander casts and the whole team win many awards because they surely deserve them.

(ukoemem - Author; Ola Y - Editor)

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Beauty and the Bizarre - MET Gala 2015

Did you know that the MET Gala is an annual fundraising event to benefit the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute in New York City? I found that out a couple of years ago. Before then, I thought it was just an event with celebs wearing over-the-top fashion and I couldn't wait to see how they had out-done their outfits of previous years. There is a theme each year, which celebrates the exhibition and the guests choose fashion to match the theme of the exhibit. This year's theme is "China: Though the Looking Glass" and I'm not sure if the guests stayed true to the theme. You can be the judge of that and here are some styles of the night.