How many water sources does one house need?

A week after my daughter was born, a flash flood wiped out Nairobi’s water supply. For four weeks, our taps were dry. Fortunately (and somewhat ironically), it was the rainy season.

Collecting rainwater is somewhat tiresome but we managed. Every time it rained, whoever was home would run outside and place buckets strategically around the house. As soon as a bucket was full, we’d lug it inside and pour the contents into the downstairs bathtub.

After a month of towel bathing and refilling the cistern every time we flushed a toilet, we were ready for the miracle of indoor plumbing. It was awesome to have a shower again.

Our current home has three water sources: city council water; a private borehole managed by our street association; and several water tanks around our property. This is vitally important. After all, it is pointless to have electricity if you don’t have water for the kettle. And a dry kettle means no tea. Without tea, there is nothing but darkness and chaos.

Speaking of tea, I’m giving away 3 African cozies to cover your tea (or coffee) pot. If you’ve already entered, awesome! Remember to share with family and friends to increase your chance of winning, plus look for the confirmation email (it might have landed in your Spam box); you need to click the link to confirm your entry. For more details and to see what the cozies look like, visit here.

On another topic entirely, a friend of mine is releasing Blood Renegades, the newest book in her Rebel Vampires series. If you enjoy Gothic literature (think ‘Anne Rice’), you’ll love her series. And for this week only, Blood Renegades is only 99c!

Light – rebel, lover, anti-hero – will be burnt at the stake in fourteen days. In a hidden, paranormal London, he’s been branded a traitor and terrorist Renegade. He must now make the ultimate choice: to hide in the shadows. Or walk into the light… Betrayal. Death. Hope. Take what you know about vampire romance and throw it away. See what everyone is raving about here.

Posted in Gifts & Treats

Cover that Teapot!

To celebrate the upcoming launch of Murder for Tea, case 1 in The Cozy Tea Shoppe Mystery series, I’m giving away three handmade, African tea cozies.

Cover your pot with one of these beautiful creations; it will keep your tea or coffee warm while bringing a touch of Kenya into your home. Keep reading for entry details.

“The Cozy Tea Shoppe Mystery” series continues the adventures of Beatrice Knight and her wacky friends in the small town of colonial Nairobi. The first book, “Murder for Tea”, introduces The Cozy Tea Shoppe in which tea isn’t the only thing that’s brewing.

You don’t have to finish the “Society for Paranormals” books to start this new series (although I would recommend it!).

Enter to win one of these three beautiful, handmade, African tea cozies.

Enter here:

The more you share, the greater your chance of winning.


Posted in Gifts & Treats Tagged with: , , , ,

It’s raining rats

It’s the rainy season in Kenya (there are two a year), and you’ll seldom hear Kenyans complain about the arrival of the rain. We view it as a blessing. Everything greens up, the air is fresh, the crops grow, rainbows brighten the sky… you get the picture.

Not everyone likes the rain though. The rats living in the gutters, for example: they don’t appreciate being flooded from their homes. One such evicted family decided to move into MY home a couple weeks ago. Every evening, they come out from their new nest and run all over the house. It’s no joke when you walk into your kitchen, flip on the light and stare into the eyes of a rodent licking your plate clean.

At this point, I wish I had a hungry lion. Speaking of which, I learned from Emmanuel Paz that Kenya isn’t the only country blessed with man eating cats (as per the story in my last email). The man eaters of Njombe (Tanzania) were a pride of lions that devoured over 1,500 people in the first half of the 20th century. The British colonial government was trying to control the rinderpest virus which was killing livestock. To stop the virus, the government hunted down zebras and other wildlife. The poor lions were starving. I wonder how they’d feel about rats?

While you ponder that question, check out these free mysteries (+ an Amazon gift voucher giveaway): The giveaway closes sometime on 12 May.



PS: let me know if you have any tips to get rid of rats!

Posted in African Animals, African stories, Gifts & Treats Tagged with: , , , , ,

3 reasons why a lion would eat you

As you know by now, the first book in the “Society for Paranormals” series, Ghosts of Tsavo, is based very loosely on historic events. In 1898, two lions took it upon themselves to devour a number of men. You can imagine how upsetting it was for those men who came to East Africa to build the railway, not to be eaten by the wildlife.

These ravenous lions with a taste for human meat were stopped only when a British soldier, Lt. Col. John Henry Patterson, shot and killed the deadly pair near Kenya’s Tsavo River. More than a hundred years later, a chemical analysis of the lions’ hides suggested that they ate about 35 people.

Now I’m going to share with you the science behind the facts. (Thanks to Sherri Turner for sharing the Washington Post article with me.)

Just to set the record straight: most lions don’t eat people. In fact, the King of the Jungle is actually a lazy cat who would rather spend up to 20 hours a day lounging around under the shade of a thorn tree. However, the two man eaters of Tsavo had different ideas. But why?

A recent study analyzed the grooves on the lions’ fangs. The conclusion: these lions preferred hunting live humans because human meat is softer than the alternatives.

One of the lions (the one with a particular preference for soft food) was missing several teeth and had a severe tooth abscess. Ouch.This would have made it too painful for the Tsavo lion to subdue typical prey, hence the change in menu. No more zebra; humans are way easier!

Of course, it wasn’t just dental issues that pushed the lions to a new food source. There was also a lack of natural prey due to a cattle plague combined with a drought. With the building of the railway, an influx of new food filled in the gap: soft-fleshed humans.

The moral of this story is simple: stay indoors when there are hungry lions about. And while you’re stuck inside waiting for the lions to eat someone else, maybe you want to load up on some books to pass the time.

What better way than to check out the current deals being offered as part of a giveaway? Just head on over here – – and scroll down to find something delicious. Plus there’s the giveaway at the bottom of the page.

There’s also the Mega Multi-Genre giveaway and a HUGE bundle of 180 books up for grabs. Crazy awesome! Get all the details over here:

Well, that’s it from me. I’m now going to venture outside. Let’s just hope the lions have wandered away into the neighboring forest…



Posted in African Animals, African stories, Gifts & Treats Tagged with: , , , ,

what’s the 1 thing you don’t do when your house floods?

Recently, I told you about our first house in Nairobi, a cottage full of ‘character’. But lack of electricity wasn’t our only problem.

About a week before giving birth to our eldest child, I was sitting in our cottage, contented, nested and all the other sentiments that are associated with a woman about to give birth any day. I was admiring the beautiful view when I felt a fat drop of water plunk down on my head.

It was most peculiar, really. It wasn’t the rainy season. In fact, we were in a drought. So why was the ceiling leaking? Within a few seconds of this confused observation, and before I could haul my whale-like body up from the grip of the sofa and gravity, the leak turned into a rainstorm.

Stunned, I stared at the water gushing down from ceiling and did the one thing you don’t do in a flood: I freaked out. All warm, fuzzy feelings of nesting and finally being settled vaporized in an emotional panic. I stumbled down the stairs and outside, shouting for help. Neighbors ran to my assistance, by which time the living room was engulfed in a monsoon event. Buckets were strategically placed, mops were employed and some quick-witted person shut off the fuse box.

“The pump,” someone said, as if that was sufficient explanation for the storm that had appeared in my house. It turned out that there was an issue with the pump: instead of switching off once the storage tank above our living room was full, it just kept on pumping.

Now for another sort of deluge, one that involves stories rather than saturated furniture. I’d like to invite you to dinner with Satan. A friend of mine is participating in Planet Comicon Kansas City. What’s that, you ask? Comicon is the largest comic book and pop culture convention in the Kansas City area. Basically, it’s a great excuse to dress up and have fun.

Anyways… my friend’s organizing some awesome events around the theme of his book, Dinners with Satan, including a giveaway plus free books. You know the drill. Interested? Check out the awesome line-up of books and the giveaway by clicking HERE. It’s open until 30 April.

Who loves puppies? I do, and that’s why I couldn’t resist joining this giveaway! Also running 24-30 April, the Cozy Mystery Puppy Luv is looking for a winner for a new Kindle plus 10 cozy mystery books. One runner up will win the 10 books. Here’s the link to all that luv.



Posted in African stories