In a nutshell, my novel (in the making) titled “Everywhere & Always” is about the pursuit of happiness. And, you’ll probably agree that it’s almost impossible to explore happiness without addressing money…
So, I decided to throw some of my characters into riches and luxury to see who they really are… It gets interesting… That’s all I will say for now.😉
To begin introducing this theme, I gave Ai (one of those characters) a job at Harrods Knightsbridge which is where I used to work (in my early twenties)… Hmmm… I still remember dealing with vendors from the UK, Germany, France… chasing deliveries of 35,000 GBP sofas…
I used to wonder if I’d be happier sitting on a 35k sofa as opposed to a 1,5k sofa… 🤔 Well, my novel is fictional, but Ai too finds herself asking similar questions i.e. if one really needs ‘all that money’. And if not, what does one need to be happy?
I have been posting brief novel updates on my socials. Here… not so much, but I’ll do my best to change that. With that said, please Join me on Instagram too if you’d like to get regular glimpses into what’s cooking – glimpses like this one, below.
Back to my novel update though, I have received feedback regarding its first chapter. Aaaand, it was slightly underwhelming but fair. So, I decided to re-write the weaker parts of my opening, aaagain.
Honestly, novel writing turns out to be slightly more complicated than I thought it’d be… However, I am making progress. Accidentally, my rewritten first page has already earned the love of author and English teacher Desiri Okobia who said she’d use it for Year 11s’ creative writing lessons. Exciting!
So, to summarise my novel writing Update: I am rewriting… Aaagain. The promised first chapter of “Everywhere & Always” will drop in your inbox… in all its glory… soon! If… you have subscribed that is. Please do RIGHT HERE.
I had said that while working on my novel I’d put the brakes on writing poetry. And, I have kept to that until now. However,on Wednesday, my friend/mentor’s body was cremated. I had been invited to say a few words at her funeral…
Barbara was a big supporter of my poetry and often expressed her desire to be in the audience when I performed. Sadly, that never happened, but I thought a brief speech in poetry form was what she would have appreciated.
She died from dementia. I couldn’t stop crying every time I saw her in the final years of her life. In the most difficult times, her family and friends saw things that most would probably wish to unsee… While that’s impossible, my prayer for them and anyone who lost a loved one to this or any other monster disease is that the beautiful memories become more powerful in their minds than the bad ones.
Dementia is crude and cruel. However, Babs was and will always be a lady in my mind. I wrote this short, simple poem to celebrate that memory of her.
She is gone, but her legacy and the beautiful memories live on.
I call you ‘Lady’ – ‘Lady B.’ actually
International woman filled with dignity
A little stern when need be but sweet when you knew
That your heart was safe and a friendship was true…
So many friendships are make-believe.
You did not find your El Dorado. There was not enough time.
But the monster that ended your quest cannot stop you now!
You were such a star… I felt warm in your light…
We know you were here. You don’t have to fight…
I still laugh thinking of you speaking Patois to me
I am not Jamaican, but felt I could be…
When we laughed.
You left solid love chunks for your people down here…
And, you left quite a few… just for me.
Thank you for your time and mentoring –
Not only in good journalism or editing skill…
Thank you for your heartening when I wanted to quit.
You’ll be missed, Lady B.
That is who you are and will be to me…
I’ll remember your passion moving past the pain!
I’ll remember your laughter in spite of the rain
And the violent storm that came…
It is gone now.
It’s okay, Lady B.
Wait in Him for us… R.I.P.♥
Written by Monika Ribeiro
In loving memory of Barbara Campbell
My 2019 ended… well… with passing away of one of my mentors and friends. Mine and other journalists’ tributes have just been published by the Voice News. And, I couldn’t start 2020 without acknowledging the impact this editor/publisher and friend had on my writing and life.
“…Barbara Campbell trained me as a journalist while I was freelancing for Black Heritage Today and International Women’s Month magazines. She taught me how to write feature articles, conduct journalistic interviews, research and more. She welcomed me into her home and heart as well.
“I remember proudly presenting my first feature to her. It was embellished – quite “flowery”. She cut so much out. I got upset thinking she took my soul out of the piece. I then showed it to my friend who had read the original. She didn’t hesitate to tell me that Barbara’s pen made it better. So, I decided to stop mourning my style and started paying attention.
‘HER HEART BLED FOR THE BLACK COMMUNITY’
“Barbara knew exactly what she wanted to say and how she wanted to say it. Her heart bled for the black community and for black stories to be told the RIGHT WAY. I could see a flame in her eyes when she spoke about how much the community needed positive role models and narratives. That passion drove her and made her fight tirelessly against financial, physical and all other odds. It was tough on her, especially towards the end. Sometimes, I think she sacrificed her life for it.”
Speaking about the lasting impact that Campbell had on her life, Ribeiro says:
“These few words are not enough to summarise the impact she made on me as a writer. When I decided not to pursue journalism, she encouraged my poetry and gave me a poet’s corner in Black Heritage Today. In one of her recommendations, she said ‘…Anytime, she is performing l hope to be there – cheering from the front!’ Sadly, she never made it to my shows, but I still hear her voice in my head reminding me to use the word ‘reportedly’ just in case… I edit my stories the way she taught me. Her heart and skills are part of my writing. She was an excellent journalist, editor, boss lady, teacher and friend…”
Please read the rest of mine and other tributes on the Voice News Website.
I wish you and myself a Happy New Year. Let’s make the most of our time here and let’s appreciate friends and family while there’s still time.
“It was one of those afternoons when the beautiful summer sun chased even zealous hermits out their four walls. All but one. Her curtains were closed all day. She didn’t notice the sun’s rays and her skin couldn’t feel its warmth…”
Yes, there’s a new book in the making!
The first draft is done. Yuppie! However,… Yes, there’s a however… I have a bunch of revisions ahead of me still. There’s a vague release date in my mind but I’m not going to share it just yet. Undoubtedly, it is going to take some time before the book’s out. That’s not a bad thing though. Quality is what I’m after…
So, I’ve already spent some time revising the first chapter – over and over and over again…
I believe it is strong enough to capture your imagination, but… Yes, there’s a “but”. I thought it’d be smart to ask a few other storytellers for feedback. I’m waiting to hear from them, at the moment. Once I’m confident that I’ve done the chapter justice I am going to share it with my e-mail subscribers. I can’t wait!
Please Join Us if you’d like me to share glimpses of my novel in the making with you.
So now… The title… [drumroll] “Everywhere & Always”
It is a story of a multiracial friendship between four people from different cultural backgrounds… Taking place in a world that doesn’t always get it… It is about their pursuit of happiness; identity search and breaking away from the society’s expectations to pursue their own respective destinies…
Life events force Ai, Alma, Emilio and Jack to face their fears and make choices: love or money; truth or freedom; forgiveness or torment, sadness or joy… Ohhh…
I feel like giving away a little more… I hope this isn’t a spoiler. Nope, I don’t think it is. The book begins with “trouble in paradise”. Yes, their friendship is tested, and the journey begins. I’ll add this for good measure – one of the characters is a drama queen… who’s suffering from depression to top it all off.
But don’t worry – the others are lovely… or not… 😉
A few months ago, I was featured in “Seven Questions…” – a popular column of a UK based newspaper for the Polish diaspora. The interview format was quite unusual. I was given a number of one word/two-word questions to choose from and asked to develop answers based on whatever reflections they triggered in my mind.
When the interview came out I promised my English-speaking readers its translation, so here it comes – slightly adapted for this blog but true to the heart of our conversation.
Writer, Poet. Published two books with inspiring poetry and short stories – “Do Lend Me Your Ears” and “Love, don’t Fear” – currently writing her third book (epic novel). She comes from Poland, completed a master’s degree course in marketing and management at the University of Szczecin. She has lived in London for the past 15 years.
Black and white, hence brown… like my skin which reflects the fusion of two cultures – Nigerian (my dad’s side) and Polish (my mum’s). My parents met when they were students at the Technical University of Lodz. For the first few months after I was born, subsequently every now and then: I’ve lived there with them – in a student home. Skin colour means nothing because we all belong to one race – human race.
The old town of Barcelona. The beach, sun, museums, beautiful antique buildings, music… One of my visits, about 4 years ago, is especially engraved in my memory. One morning, in the search of peace I discovered Museu Frederic Marés… I spent half of my day there – writing, staring at tourists and artists immersed in high-focus drawing… I lost the sense of time. On the other hand, London is the city where I don’t feel different – where I can get lost in the crowd. Here, I met my husband Miguel, started my adult life and gave birth to three kids.
Never Give Up because Nothing is Impossible. This thought subtly but consistently re-appears in my poetry and life choices.
Writing. It’s my passion, therapy and career choice. It’s great when a reader or listener comes back to tell me how much they appreciate my creations, but the writing process is just as important as the final effect. During the process, I experience an emotional catharsis and feelings stronger than those I get whilst travelling because when you write you’re allowed to create new places instead of merely discovering them. The book I’m working on now is about love, friendship, the pursuit of happiness, finding God and fighting for your dream…
It has to be positive and spirit lifting. Melody, of course, is important but first and foremost, I care about the lyrics and the atmosphere a musical piece creates…
The Bible. 15 years ago, I was in Paris visiting Ayo (who authored the foreword to my book “Love, don’t Fear”). One evening, in preparation for travel, she was packing her suitcase: clothes, jewellery, a storm of colours. What struck me was that, in spite of a relatively small travel-bag, she packed three bibles – English, German and French… Many things have happened since then, but the Scriptures still are my main spiritual food. They helped me get rid of a few-year long depression and they’re the source of daily wisdoms I have not found in any other book.
“Rocky” with Sylvester Stallone. A story about a small-time boxer realising his dreams of becoming the heavy-weight world champion. I watched the series a few times and will probably watch them again. Highlights – literal and metaphorical battle, facing his opponent but mostly himself, love… Main message – fight until the end, don’t lose faith, love and respect others…
If you speak Polish, see the first pic above with the original interview. Join me on Instagram too.
I was born, brown-skinned and a black-eyed girl,
Into a blue-eyed spot in this world –
Blessed with black, thick and rather frizzy hair
Where hair tends to be silky, smooth, mostly blond.
When I was a girl, maybe twelve years old,
I would lay my head down, on the ironing board
Because a real iron could tame my real hair…
Benefits seemed great… Risks? I didn’t care.
Sometimes, I would hurt my neck
While trying to look more like my peers…
My silky, smooth hair would cover the scars,
But couldn’t heal wounds inflicted upon my ears.
Finally, my strands lost all strength and shine.
Hurt, brittle and broken, they told me the truth:
Silky and smooth was not to be mine –
What was, however, was a gift… divine.
Some say, I cannot relate to the black woman’s plight.
I’m not brown enough – they say, again and again…
And yet, in the white crowd, my skin’s far from light.
No blue sockets in my eyes, no blue blood in my vein.
Some say I’m neither, but I share both bloodlines
So, I take the liberty to claim Angelou’s lines
“Out of the hats of history’s shame, I rise”
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain, I rise…”
There are decent and wicked people, in every place.
As Shakespeare well said, many years ago,
“There’s no art to tell the mind’s construction in the face”.
This line could apply to the subject of race…
There’s more that connects than divides us, you see?
I won’t get offended if you disagree…
But, do look beyond the cover, listen to my words –
We live in a world made of many worlds…
I live in a world made of many worlds…
Even more come alive in the depths of my mind
I pray that this world, made of many worlds,
Becomes one in the One who is colour-blind.
Besides, I’m the world that lives within me…
Letter by letter and word by word –
HOW I look at things determines what is…
My own world gets recreated, every day, by me.
I’m no longer looking for my place in this world…
His sweet spot within me is what I’m striving for.
In the midst of it all, still, I have to believe…
That right now and after… will surpass before.
We spend so much time reminiscing good old and bad old days… That’s fine… It’s okay to look for motivation or lessons in days gone by. Having said that, why not spend at least the same amount of time visualizing our future…
Once we’ve captured the beautiful picture of what we want to become we should lock it in our memory bank until it comes to pass! Start taking beautiful pics of your future right now, and remember them throughout 2019.
Happy New Year!
Remember your future
When the past is bleak
When you’ve had a tough week
or a year, even many tough years…
which have left you discouraged and weak
I pray for your strength
When you’re weary and drained
That you focus your mind
On remembering good days
Again, and again, and again…
Just remember your future,
Picture it in your mind
Decide what you want
What it will be like…
Stop remembering your past
Don’t repeat old mistakes
Start remembering your future
Let it find you prepared…
A brief definition of a beach, by me –
Soft & golden sand with a fresh breeze & the sea
Yet, this shore, right here, without one grain of sand
Is believed to be qualified. I believe, but not quite…
Well… Sea? Checked. Breeze? Checked.
But then.., stones – and sooo haaard!
In my mind, there’s a memory of a soft & smooth beach
Without the soft sand, my bare feet feel so… eek!
Rocks are surely great for the ‘mountain time’
Yet, each beach, in my mind, requires… the sand…
Second thought – let’s revise
It’s a fruitful land…
As in spite of my hurting feet
Which from pebbles bleed
I prefer to keep swimming
In the sea bottomed hard
Than to drown in the one
Underlaid with soft sand.
“Just keep swimming” Dori from “Finding Nemo”
You may have noticed that I changed the title and the cover of my latest poetry collection. Ha… the book had only been out for a month… ‘Why did you do that?’ one could ask…
Well, that month was the driest month as far as my book sales, on Amazon, are concerned. Not only was this book not selling, but my first book “Do Lend Me Your Ears” took a significant hit too. While they might have been caused by a range of factors – those events were too time-correlated for me to ignore. So, I pulled the plug on “Poems about Love and Fear” ☹ And when I did – my first book sales spiked yet again. Boom! 😊 That was about 1,5 months ago…
After picking up the scattered pieces of my wounded ‘marketeer ego’ (not really), I’m back with a confession: I rushed the cover design and did not take enough time to consider the title. It was me…
I don’t write about Love and Fear as if they’re equal – they’re not… I write about Love overcoming fear, hence the new more appropriate title: “Love, Don’t Fear”.
About that cover… picturing a random couple kissing in the background of the red, red wine… I mean the red, red cover… One of my friends said that, at first sight, she thought she was looking at an erotic novel.👀 Well, the book’s about affairs of the heart, but there’s no direct sexual content in it. “Love, Don’t Fear” explores emotional battles and relationship lows. And then, the plot leads you to inspiring breakthroughs and solutions. That’s what you’ll find within its dramatic and captivating story-lines…
Change was needed, hence poems about love and fear are no more (though Google may not know that yet). The cover’s still passionately red, but the kissing couple is gone. The title no longer magnifies fear – it puts LOVE in its proper place… ♥
Food for thought: If there’s a book inside of you – don’t be scared to write it and share it. You are not a failure if you don’t succeed at your first attempt. It just means that your story will gain a backstory… Gather more information, get all the help you need and go do it again! Just do it better, this time around.
I’m super excited to introduce my new (old) book: “Love, Don’t Fear” to You. It is available on Amazon now.
Check it out. Pick it up. Be entertained and inspired to love – not fear…