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Monthly Archives: May 2014

Electrify Africa

Writing a novel in which at least half the action takes place in a sub-Sahara African nation made me more aware than I had been about the day to day struggles in a developing country. Mind you, “more aware” merely means less ignorant. I’ve never lived anywhere without electricity, clean water, and ample food and my research produced information and sympathy, not understanding. But as my hero of x0 concludes, knowledge and concern are a start.

beautiful life3I work with several Nigerians, in real life, and enjoy the occasional opportunity to see the world through their eyes. They give me a feel for how complicated their homeland is, and how well-meant simple solutions often fail. Obviously, problems everywhere else can be complex too. I work in the oil industry, and have a grown child who makes his living trying to understand climate change. We both want what is best for this planet, and we each spend our days surrounded by those with very different opinions about how that should be achieved.

All of this came together for me recently when I received an impassioned email plea, from Bono of U2 no less, to support the Electrify Africa Act. It was described as “a life-saving bill that would help Africa bring electricity to 50 million people for the very first time”. This sounds wonderful. Nigerian co-workers tell me that much of the electric power in their country comes from diesel generators, a smoky, noisy, inefficient part-time solution that they suspect puts money in somebody’s pocket. I am all for a better answer and even willing to see some of my tax dollars used to get there.

I received a follow-up email a few days ago saying the bill had passed. Wahoo! Furthermore, I was informed that my representative,Texas Republican Congressman Kevin Brady, had voted for it. Wait a minute. Maybe I am being too cynical here, but over the past several years I have noticed that Congressman Brady and I don’t agree on a while lot of things. If he voted yes, perhaps I’m not as informed about this bill as I thought.

Indeed, a little more research showed that the bill is controversial and the issues are complicated “Access to power is a principal bottleneck to growth in Africa. Six hundred million Africans lack access to a power grid” reads one headline. Yes, we need to do something about that.  “Two U.S. initiatives to provide Africans with electricity seem likely to lead to large, climate-polluting projects rather than the locally sourced renewable energy rural Africa needs” says another. Okay, I may be starting to see where my pro-oil-industry congressman fits in.

sungazing7The Nation takes it a step further and adds that “Proponents of Electrify and Power Africa have been most publicly enthusiastic about new discoveries of vast reserves of oil and gas on the continent, which has many African activists wary of a resource grab.” USAID, a U.S. Government agency working to end extreme global poverty puts it somewhat differently. “Power Africa encourages countries to make energy sector reforms while connecting entrepreneurs and U.S. businesses to investment opportunities.”

What to do? Go with an initiative that will be backed by many more, and yet may well invite more problems into a continent that desperately needs less of them? Or hold out for a better, more environmentally friendly and Africa-centric solution? Remember “electricity allows businesses to flourish, clinics to store vaccines, and students to study long after dark. But for more than two-thirds of the population of Sub-Saharan Africa, these opportunities simply do not exist.” Politics is a messy business. For now, I’m going to reluctantly cheer on the passage of this bill on the grounds that trying to solve a problem is better than doing nothing. Let’s hope that is true in this case.

(Thanks to the Facebook pages of Your Beautiful Life and Sungazing for sharing the images shown above.)

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2014 in Nigeria

 

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Ten Wonderful, Easy Things You Can Do for Your Friend Who Writes Books

True voice 4Maybe you don’t read much, or maybe you just don’t like fiction. Maybe you like it a lot and you have a TBR pile of sixty or so novels. Whatever the reason, you have a good friend or close relative who self-publishes her stories and you think it is totally cool but you haven’t gotten around to reading one yet. It would be nice if there was a quick way to show your support.

There are ten of them I can think of, and any single one will make her smile. You can probably do them all in under twenty minutes without spending a dime or uttering anything but the truth. Are you ready? Open your browser and let’s go

Start with Amazon.com. Type in her name, and pick the option to go to her Amazon page. In the upper right hand corner, you can like her author page. Let’s be honest, an author page with few or no likes looks so forlorn. What if she doesn’t have one? Gently suggest to her that she take a few minutes and make one, so you can like it.

Now go to her most recent, or most popular, book. Scroll down to the reviews. Find a few that speak highly of the book, but also are well written and honestly point out her strengths. A positive but fair review will attract readers who will like the work, and that is what you want for her. Click the button at the bottom of these reviews that says you found the review helpful. You did, didn’t you? Your click will help scoot these reviews up to the top.

On to Goodreads. Here, you can add her books to your bookshelf. When you do, all your friends will see that you did, and that is free publicity for her. Then check out Listopia. Goodreads has hundreds of lists, ranging from the color of the cover to the first letter of the title. Her book surely belongs on several, so add it. Once again, that’s more publicity.

hippiepeace10Twitter gives you lots of options. The easiest is to simply retweet one of her own book-related tweets for her. My favorite is to write my own tweet about her book that includes her name, the book’s title, and some fun or funny remark. This gives her something to retweet to her own followers, and that is priceless.

Facebook also offers a lot of options. Hopefully she has a page for her book and you’ve already liked it. If not, fix that. If so, like and share a post of hers that you particularly enjoyed. With the new FB algorithm you may have to go to her page to find it as it may no longer come to you. While you are there, comment about another post or two. All this activity will bring more eyes her way.

Finally, drop by her blog. Become a follower. Comment on a post. You can even mix and match here by tweeting one of her blog posts or sharing it on Facebook, so that you make a little noise everywhere on her behalf.

If you are the writer, not the friend, consider hanging on to this list until your birthday or some other special occasion rolls around. Then don’t be shy. Pass this along to anyone who says that they want to do something nice for you.

Note: z2 is just finishing a blog tour through the fine folks at Reading Addiction Virtual Book Tours. The post below is part of that tour and it appeared May 4 on a wonderful blog called Book Faery Reviews. Please share this post with wild abandon and make struggling writers happier everywhere.

Appreciation for the great images above goes out to the Facebook pages of Hippie Peace Freaks and Your True Voice. Please drop by and give them both a like.

 
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Posted by on May 10, 2014 in writing

 

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