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. 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.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Coachella 2015

Sure you'll be dancing and since it's very hot, you'll need to dress comfortably. But I guess I'm confused about the trend aspect of outfits I see people wear to Coachella Valley Music and Arts Annual Festival. Due to my confusion, I searched the website to find out if they had a "way to dress" entry but I couldn't find anything that remotely mentioned how people should dress to Coachella. In previous years it was all about dressing light because of the hot weather - shorts, tank tops etc. But in recent years, I haven't failed to noticed that the ladies are leaning towards "hippie" styles. This left me wondering if this popular music and arts festival emphasizes this kind of style. I checked their website and couldn't find any specific dress code(s). People just dress up as they like and the "Coachella dressing" now includes but is not limited to shorts, crop tops, hair flowers, cowboy hats, booties, sandals, braided hairstyles, lace, leather, feathers, chokers, and this year's trendy specialty, septum rings. Of course, you have those who take it too far and forget that they're in a public place and should still try to dress appropriately regardless of the favorable weather. They happened to be so many this year that I cringed more than I smiled when I checked out the fashion for this year's Coachella.

(ukoemem - Author; Ola Y - Editor; Photos from

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Body Shaming

I don't think it's right for people to voice out their opinions about a person's weight gain or weight loss, if that person didn't ask you for it. The body changes all the time and responds even to the slightest change in food and surroundings - even if not sometimes noticed. We have our own bodies so why do we focus so much on other people's bodies instead of ours? I've heard people say that they will alert a person if he or she is too thin or too fat because they care for that person. I applaud you for your boldness and sometimes I think the person has to hear it to know it. But alerting a person is different from judging and shaming the person. 

Now I hear the fashion industry will ban models that are too thin. Good for them and bad for the girls that are naturally thin. Then, there are those who are getting bad attention for gaining weight because somehow they're supposed to stay the way they looked when they were sixteen.

The topic of weight is sensitive bearing in mind that there are several factors that contribute to the development of an individual. There isn't one kind of body shape. We are all different and should therefore look different. I won't act as though I'm not aware of the issue of being too thin or too fat. But I won't also accept that people are meant to look and weigh an "industry" chosen scale. If you do not know the person, I suggest you keep your mouth shut about his or her body unless you are directly affected by this person's body issue because your opinion might aggravate that situation. You may not know the real reasons behind the person's issue. There are well-informed people out there who make it their business to enlighten others about healthy living. This can be helpful but people should remember that "one size doesn't fit all." We are all different and still have to find a balance of what works for us. Then there are those quacks out there whose sole purpose is to sell products and would lie to the teeth to make you buy them. If you decide to spend your money on those products, that's your business. The truth is we know the basics of healthy living, which are good food and exercise. But it takes more than that when it comes to fitting those basics into our daily lives.

(ukoemem - Author; Ola Y - Editor)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

It's His Decision

Maybe it's true; maybe not, but whatever he decides, it's his life. I'm writing concerning the news that Zayn Malik has left the boy band, One Direction, and fans are shedding some tears. Before anyone throws accusations and opinions out there, have they thought to ask why? Zayn joined this band as a teen; most people tend to forget that. Imagine getting endless scrutiny from your teen years till you clock twenty-two. Some 'so called fans' automatically act like they know you and they feel they have a say in whatever you do just because they think they're entitled. He gets a haircut; someone has something bad to say about it. He opens his eyes; someone has an opinion about it. How can a person live like that? Many will say that he knew what he was getting into for wanting to be a singer. That is not a fair statement because no one should live like they have minions micro-managing their every move. Some boy bands formed at a more mature age and still could not handle the hate from the mean idiots out there. The truth is, no matter how old you are, you cannot toughen up enough to protect yourself from feeling bad about what people say to you, about you, or about someone close to you. What I hope is that Zayn Malik has thought through this before deciding to quit because based on other boy bands that have had a member quit, that member wanted to return in later years. Having a taste of this life and leaving it after a number of years will not be easy for him, since the other members will continue without him. But, if that's what he wants and he thinks it's better for him, he has the right to live his life in the way he sees best. To those tweens bawling their eyes out, suck it up! When you were feeling good, hiding behind your tweeter feeds, being abusive, judgmental, and scary, did you not realize that you could drive him to call it quits?

(ukoemem - Author; Ola Y - Editor)

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Don't Wish To Be Them

As long as we cannot read minds, we should not wish to be anyone else but ourselves. Why? because we never know the true story of people's lives. Photos and videos are deceptive. We are shown only what people want us to see and not what the situation really is.

Okay, this is a deep blog post but I just had to share my thoughts on the matter. I'm writing this because lately I've seen comments like "life goals" under photos of people looking glamorous or couples looking happy and in love. I'm not saying we shouldn't aspire for the better things in life but I'm pointing out that the photos only show a moment, and not the person's whole life. People wishing to be others based on photos are aiming to be "their perception of the person's life." Why waste your time wishing and living false lives, just to be a counterfeit of someone else? Then one day, you wake up and wonder who you really are. Why not learn about yourself and discover all you can do? Why not aim to be a better version of yourself instead?

Wishing to be someone else based on the photos they post creates an unhealthy obsession that makes individuals angry when they later discover less than ideal things about their so called "life goal target." We are all humans. Life is not always rosy but we feel inclined to share the best; best picture, best videos, best moments etc. Live your own life and admire your idols but don't wish to be them because you aren't seeing the whole picture.

(ukoemem - Author; Ola Y - Editor)

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Why Facade?

Good question. The funny thing about choosing this title was that it was effortless. I already had three titles in mind while I wrote the book but when I got to the last line of the book, it changed to Facade. One meaning of Facade is "an outward appearance that is maintained to conceal a less pleasant reality." With this title, you already wonder what the character is hiding. That's my intent.

The short explanation that goes along with the publicity of Facade says,

"To the naked eyes, Emma, a recent high school graduate, is beyond beautiful and smart, which is a combination that would give any girl an immeasurable sense of self-confidence. But as it turns out, the eyes are yet to discover and understand the real Emma. Adam, her saving angel who is wise beyond his years, wholeheartedly accepts the real Emma and teaches her to do the same."

While I can't give away too much about the book, know that there are life lessons that Emma learns, which are true for most of us:

  • Overcoming self-doubt
  • Learning not to choose the substitute over the real thing we want to do because of fear of failure
  • Not waiting until something drastic happens before we take the leap
That's all I'm going to share for now. Enjoy Facade and tell me what you think :)