#WriterSpotlight – ‘The story might have been told but has never been told from your own perspective.’ – Caleb Ihuarulam

 

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Thursdays on The Sparkle Writers Hub are for meeting amazing writers and authors. Today we have Caleb who started writing when he was eleven years old and has grown his skill consciously. There’s so much to learn from him. 

Hello please introduce yourself.

Hi, I’m Caleb Ihuarulam, but I write under the pseudonym Chuks Kelly Casper, preferably abbreviated as Chuks C.K. Reasons being that my surname is hard to pronounce and I wanted to create a brand for my more artistic and expressive inclinations. Ihuarulam Caleb is for the scientific since I was originally a science student.

When and why did you start wiring?

I started writing when I was eleven years old. As a matter of fact, writing was the first real thing I remember doing as a young person, apart from reading of course.  I wrote two plays, both of which got missing somehow. I still regret that. I have thought for like forever to remember what a tender me would have written about. I didn’t start out with anything in mind at that young age. However, as I grew, I discovered that I had this knack for being brutally blunt when I wrote what I wanted to say instead of actually saying it. I was an introvert and I wanted people to hear what I was saying but not necessarily seeing me.  Then it progressed to this tool I used to relieve depression and anger to what I used to enjoy my happy moments.

As I grew further, I discovered that people were willing to listen to what I had to say. I loved to guide, to teach, to inform and empathize with people even if I was still learning emotional expression.  Today, I write because I want to inform, I want to guide. I write because I want to paint real life pictures with words, not just the way I see it, but the way they really are. I want to show people the hidden perspective that they are not really seeing; whether it is humorous or serious.  In one word, I write to inform.

Writing one book is already a huge task but to have published four is a feat. Take us through the process of writing and publishing as you’ve experienced it.

As a young person in Nigeria who wants to write full time, depending on your family, you are everything your parents are praying against. Even if they see it as a noble act, they do not just want to deal with the fact that one of their own wants to take such risk with their lives. I guess that the whole picture and perception changes when an issue hits you personally. They have more stories of failed writers than successful ones. The journey has been exhilarating. I have enjoyed every bit of my development as a writer and wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. Of course, it isn’t short of its challenges. I’ve been discouraged and have considered given up. Sometimes when I see very illustrious works, I ask myself if what I am so anxious to say has any meaning. Sometimes, I fall into the danger of trying to compare myself to my role models. I want to use expressions like they are using them but eventually I give up because I can’t maintain it.  The biggest challenge I have faced and am still facing is trying to get a paperback edition of my own book.

The message that publishers send to you after reviewing your work is so demoralising that you begin to ask yourself why you started writing in the first place. The rejection is carefully crafted in literary beauty. It’s like putting a needle in a cake icing. In the end, a rejection is still a rejection, especially when you don’t have the means to self publish.

Thank God for platforms like Okada books, but who markets your books? How does it get out there? At some point, you need your skill to bring in some financial remuneration. You need encouragement to continue. You can’t write when you are hungry no matter how purpose driven you are. You will be stuck.

In all, it is a mixed feeling but every success story has a difficult period. That is one thing that has kept me going. When the time is right, success will come. Outside that, you can’t stop trying.

Actually, “Social Wahala” is a short story as well as “Tasty Tom”. “In Defence of the weak man” is my assault on gender roles. Writing was enjoyable and I published using the Okada books platform. Those were relatively straight forward. However, I have completed two novels “Teenage Induction” and “Beyond the Shadows” which I want to publish in paperback. I also have a play/drama titled ‘Walking Mouths’. It is a work in progress and I intend to update it every week.

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“Teenage induction” is the first novel I started out to write. In Teenage Induction, I carefully wrote about the experiences of a teenage boy and I had to take great effort to make sure that the ideas I portrayed there were empirically correct. It took me about eighteen months to write with a six months period of barrenness or writer’s block as you referred to it in your blog. I actually finished my second book before returning to complete the first one.

I wrote ‘Beyond the shadows’ in 35 days, nearly four hours of writing everyday because I wanted to avoid the writer’s block I experienced in ‘Teenage Induction’. I try to take people on a journey of what goes inside the mind of a rape victim. The emotions and motives that drive her activities. I looked at actions and consequences for most of the characters in the book.

‘Walking Mouths’ is a play talking about gossips in its different forms. From the market rumour, to the barbing saloon gist. It will cover everything and everywhere gossiping or ‘aproko’ takes place.

The publishing journey is nearly as hard as writing the book in itself. I have submitted to about five publishers with a few rejections. However I am hoping that I will launch both books in June/July through self publishing.

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Which book was the easiest to write and why?

The easiest was Social Wahala. It was easier because it was short and straight to the point. I didn’t have to think too far to craft the story. The hardest was Teenage Induction. At some point, I thought I was never going to complete it.

Aside from writing what else would you want to be known for?

Aside from writing, I want to be known as an entrepreneur and a mentor.

As a writer, where do you see yourself in years to come?

As a writer, in years to come, I see myself winning awards and being recognised for being a writer. Most importantly though, I want to be a household name because of how my works has helped to uplift people. I want to be seen as a writer who touches people with words.

You started writing at a young age, how have you been able to grow your skill since that time?

Starting at a very young age, there really was no official method for learning how to write so I just read and wrote. Whenever I come across an expression that I love, I pause and underline, or write it out. Even if I don’t return to view them; which I do all the time, the important things stick with me.

Also, I have this scientific approach to learning how to write. I spend hours getting to the root of various expressions, contexts, colloquial expressions and words. I give myself the opportunity to be creative with words and expressions when I write. The most important one is that when I write, I am not afraid to get feedbacks. I show people who are proven readers and take their feedbacks sincerely. That has helped me grow. Recently, I started taking writing courses, addressing my recognized areas of deficiency. That has helped me immensely too.

What advice would you give to a budding writer?

To budding writers, the most important advices are 1. Keep writing, never stop. 2. Find the purpose why you are writing and stick to it. It will keep you when nearly everything fails. The story might have been told but has never been told from your own perspective. If you don’t tell it, who will?

What do you love about the Sparkle Writers Hub?

Sparkle writers hub is amazing. Looking at the work they have done and are doing, I can’t help but be in awe of them. I love that they are there, encouraging and training writers. For me, that training is the most important thing we need in Nigerian literary space at the moment. Kudos Sparkle Writers hub; you rock! 

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#WriterSpotlight – “I could be a better writer than R.R. Martin but we’d never know if I never write.” Lord Josh

Josh Olanrewaju

Joshua Olanrewaju, also known as Lord Josh, is our Writer Spotlight on The Sparkle Writer’s Hub today. One thing we can tell you is that he has a lot of wisdom to dish out, especially on how he has intentionally grown his writing career. Enough talk, let’s get to the interview. 

Hello Joshua, kindly introduce yourself.

Hi, I am LordJosh. I write at www.lordjoshwrites.com. I enjoy writing fiction but I also do a lot of non-fiction writing. I am also a filmmaker.

When and why did you start writing?

It’s difficult to put a date to when I started writing. I’ll just say sometime in secondary school. I didn’t get serious with it though until 2013I was watching a TV show called Scandal at the time and I was loving the work the writers were doing. It was the moment I realized the effect a writer has on their audience. It inspired me to write fiction stories that will hold people spellbound and hooked.

I wrote the first story “Nicholas” and I loved it so much. I wrote the second and then the third and so on.

What do you love about writing?

I love how I can be in my room writing a story and I can influence what happens in the world – the world I create. I love that I can imagine characters and situations and have people care about, love or even hate these fictitious characters and situations.

Stories are a great escape for readers but they are much more so for the writer. I love that.

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You’ve authored books that are available for free download. Why did you make this decision?

I have four eBooks out and three of them are free. They are free because it is more important to me at this point that people read what I write than to make money from them.

Since you started your writing journey what efforts have you made to grow intentionally?

I read a lot about writing. I never presume to know everything. The internet is full of information on writing. Sometimes all you need to make your writing better is to learn something as simple as ‘story structure’.

I have been fortunate to attend physical classes where I have been taught writing too.

Most importantly, I have been writing a lot.

In celebration of Valentine’s Day, you released ‘Valentine Letters we never sent’. What inspired you to compile these letters and which is your favourite?

Well, first of all, I had some of those letters. They weren’t valentine letters but they were letters I wrote but didn’t send. If I was never going to send the letters, why not publish them?

Eventually, I wrote some letters which were fictional (some were even from a girl’s perspective). I also got some awesome guys to send in their letters.

I can’t pick a favourite. The letters all had their own message. You can download it here.

Do you plan to make money from your skill and how?

I already make money from my skill. I sold one of my eBooks “Double Negative” last year. It is still available for sale on Okadabooks. I also do freelance SEO writing. It’s not as fun as fiction writing but it pays more right now.

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What is the most important lesson writing has taught you?

Nothing happens until you take a step. I could be a better writer than R.R. Martin but we’d never know if I never write.

If you could spend time with three writers, who would you pick?

J.K. Rowling. Ted Dekker. Tomi Adesina (because she’s bae).

What advice do you have for people who know that they have a message but fear is holding them back?

This might be cliché but it’s true; do it afraid. Fear will not go away so you might as well just do it.

 

#WriterSpotlight – ‘If you’re serious about writing – as a life skill and not just “I wanna be popular” just write, and read and write some more.’ Atoke

Hey Sparkle Writers! Guess who we have on #WriterSpotlight today? It’s Atoke! If you have not heard about her before (where have you been really), be prepared to be blown away because this is by far one of the most refreshing interviews we have had in recent times. She talks about how she started her journey as a writer and hurdles she had while self publishing her book! 

Enjoy.

Hello Atoke. Please tell us about yourself.

I’m a Yoruba woman who thinks about everything that happens around her, and writes about those thoughts. I’m a TV dependent, and this is very important to the question of who I am; it’s crucial. I’m also a reader and a lover of words. I’m 4’11 and I say this everywhere, just in case if anyone erroneously thinks I’m 5ft tall.

Take us through your journey as a writer. How did you begin?

I started writing at my desk while I worked in a law firm in Lagos. Mostly, I complained about traffic (which is why I had the chance to write anyway). I wrote about how much I dreaded having to drive home from Lekki after a long ass day. So, the more I was frustrated by Lagos life (including okada riders who groped my ass) and my job at the time, the more I wrote. I blogged at the time at opal-topaz.blogspot.com and it was my safe space. “Here, There & Back” was my home to talk about what it meant to be a lawyer in Lagos, barely keeping it together mentally.

You had a weekly Column at BellaNaija for three years. Can you please tell us how that opportunity opened up for you and what impact it has had on your journey as a writer?

I work as Features Editor of BellaNaija and it is one of my core duties to create and curate content. So I had all sorts of things going on at the time: BN HotTopic, BN Our Stories Our Miracles, BN Making It, BN Prose… and I wrote all of these things hiding in the shadows – without my name on it. So, one day Uche Pedro called me into her office and she said, “When I hired you, you said you liked to write. You spoke so passionately about wanting to write using your voice.” I told her it was because I was terrified nobody would like what I had to say. I started, in spite of the fear and I made sure I remained consistent, even when it felt like I was running out of steam. It became a project I was determined to do…. Just to prove to myself that I could do it.

So to your question about whether it has impacted my journey as a writer, it’s a yes and a no. Yes, in terms of the fact that people know my writing because of the platform and I look at some old pieces and cringe at the framing of the narrative. Some of the writing is actually quite poor, if I look at it from my self-critiquing lens, today. No, because my journey as a writer has not really begun. So, we’ll see what the future holds.

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Congratulations on your recently published book, ‘An Awkward Guide To Being Nigerian’. Where did the inspiration for the book come from?

I’d like to take credit for the inspiration for this book so badly, but once again this is Uche’s baby. She pushed and pushed and pushed. “Write it. Do it. Just do it.” So, eventually, I buckled and I did. Way to go, BossBae!

The book is a collection of essays that are quite profound. Which of the essays in the book resonates with you the most and why?

The Stare Factor – the one about disabilities in Nigeria because I talked to so many people about their thoughts on disability and the responses were quite heart-breaking. It’s not even something I really thought that deeply about until I got to Swansea and there was a paraplegic in my class and his stories were THE BOMB DIGGIDY! He had a helper who assisted him and that was his second Masters degree. I started thinking about the abled person’s privilege and how we don’t even public transportation to cater for people in wheel chairs, or people who are deaf/blind. Once I entered that rabbit hole, I absolutely had to write about it.

Why was it important for you to release this book at the point when you did?

Because it was on my to-do list for the whole of 2016 and adulting kept getting in the way. So , I was determined that 2017 must not end without that book coming out of my computer, and I achieved my goals.

For anyone who has never heard about the book, why should they get a copy and what pertinent questions does the book provide answers to?

They should get the book because I wrote it, dammit! Just kidding! Seriously though, you should buy AND read +234- An Awkward Guide to Being Nigerian because it’s the book that tries to encapsulate issues that plague us as Nigerians –both at home and abroad. Also, I don’t just continue to drone on about our problems, because we all know what they are. I attempt to provide functional and practical solutions.

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Nigerian is a country with many tribes and cultures embedded within. How were you able to capture the diversity and uniqueness of being Nigerian in your book?

This was very difficult because I’m a number one ambassador of the fact that there’s no monolithic culture called “Nigerian.” There’s nothing like Nigerian language, or Nigerian culture stricto sensu; I think I addressed this in the chapter about identity, and how we identify. For instance, I identify primarily as Yoruba. It’s hard to capture the diversity and uniqueness at the same time. So how did I do it? Honestly, me sef I don’t know.

Since the book was released, what has the reception and the reviews been like?

So far so good. There’s been a lot of sentimental purchases, like “Oh Atoke wrote a book, I loved her column, let me buy her book.” Then they don’t read it immediately and I’m sitting here in my house like yepa, did they not give feedback because it sucked? So there’s that which I am grateful for because people are buying, but the real jig is I want people to read it, digest it, talk about it, and tell their circles to buy. Give it as gifts at parties, because hey, we love parties and if we want Nigeria to change for the better, we need our party goers to read my book.

Reviews so far have been good – again, I’m not sure if that’s because Atoke’s column was very successful or because they really liked the book. I’ll take the good notion; helps me sleep better at night. I have, however seen one negative review – and it’s been the only one. The person said they were tired of fake laughter and the book was over hyped.  I didn’t even know the book was hyped, I was here thinking gosh, I want people to read my book and hype it. So that was kinda good(ish)?

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Let’s talk about the process of writing the book and getting it published. What challenges did you face and how were you able to overcome them?

Plenty challenges oh! Do you have all day?

Okay, so I’m self published. Which is something I never ever wanted to be because I’m a snob and I always lowkey side eyed self-published writers. But when I spent the entire 2016 and 2017 writing to agents and publishers and collecting my Ls, I respected myself and entered on Google, “how to get your book published”

I had a LOT of help. Got my book designed by a sister-friend, Segun Akeredolu; got the book edited by Uche Okonkwo and Renette Igharo (because I wanted the best people who knew ME, understood my personality and my writing but also had the credentials under their belt).

Then, I went on fiverr.com to get a layout guy (Shout out to Abi Dare for telling me not to fret, the guys on Fiverr are good, just read the reviews). Then, when I didn’t understand the lingo for taxes and how to get it on Amazon, Yejide Kilanko (Amazing writer!!!!! Yes, include all those exclamation marks), she allayed my fears on the documentation I required to sort out Amazon. Then when I was worried about piracy and whether to print in Nigeria, she (Yejide) said,”Listen, you can’t avoid that if your book becomes wildly successful.” So, I calmed down and stopped being a diva, in that respect.

Finally, I printed in Nigeria because Arese Ugwu recommended Mr. Lekan in Somolu and the quality is great (even though I haven’t used my two eyes to see it)

It was very challenging but I’ve had a LOT of help and support. My family and friends, they’re the absolute best. Before I say “mo need…” they’ve actioned it.

Have you ever experienced writer’s block in your journey as a writer? If yes, please share some tips on how you were able to overcome it.

Writer’s block is standard. But if you have a deadline, I found that coffee and shutting out Twitter helps me push through. I’m a Twitter addict. God help me! So distracting but oh so sweet!

What’s the one thing you love most about being a writer?

Will it not sound one kain if I’m honest, bayi? The fact that when I say it at airports it gets people asking more questions. Always gets people asking more.

“Does it pay your rent?” is one of the most common ones, to which I respond, I strip to make up the balance. Since we all want to be asking about each other’s finances.

In your opinion, why is it important for people to write and share the message they have in their hearts?

Because shared experiences go a long way. It doesn’t even matter what form it takes, you just might stop someone who’s planning to go kill themselves. You can give someone hope. Optimism is such a big thing. It saves lives.

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What tips do you have for someone out there who wants to become a published author but does not yet have the financial capacity to do so?

Write, continue to write and put the body of work together.  Have it, and advertise snippets on your blog or Medium. Have a strong voice and actually have the skill to write. Writing is a skill, not a lot of people have it.  There’s so many badly written/published books. I don’t think money or financial capacity is the thing. I didn’t spend a dime to have my book published on Amazon. Have a body of work, as long as you have the Internet, do your research. Hone your craft. Mix with other writers, have them read your work. Read theirs as well. (Because some people will send 12 articles for you to review for them – as if you don’t have work that you were doing) If you’re a writer, serious about writing, hone your skills. Learn about the nuances of writing. Write on Medium, write on your blog. Write well (by this I mean properly). Look at Elnathan John (my writing hero), he wrote consistently on his blog, was very noisy on Twitter, had his own unique style… I can go on and on about how ElJo is Bae but you will chase me away.

My point is so many people say things like “I want to write, how do I start” errrr, just write. There’s a lot of free materials on the internet. When I started getting serious about writing, I went on Twitter and searched for Nigerian writers and followed every single one of them. Then I attended a creative writing workshop organized by Red Media (it was 5k, but I didn’t pay because when I got there. They just said oya sit down let’s teach you). I also met so many fantastic writers on Twitter – again it was a symbiotic relationship. I read and reviewed their work, they read and reviewed mine.  

So, yeah to answer your question… if you’re serious about writing – as a life skill and not just “I wanna be popular” (which doesn’t pay rent by the way… I know this) just write, and read and write some more.

 

#TheSparkleInterview – ‘Birthing any idea is hard work and you have to do the hard work to birth it.’ Toyin Poju-Oyemade

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Today’s interview is a bit different from the norm for so many reasons. We had the pleasure of interveiwing the delectable Toyin Poju-Oyemade. Although she has not written a book yet (because after this interview we knew we got a book title!) she’s doing something quite amazing for authors and the reading culture in Africa.  

Wondering what that could be? She’s the brain behind Chapters, a program that seeks to explore, understand and learn principles of life and living specifically through books. 

There’s so much wisdom and fun packed in one interview and  we KNOW you would love it. 

Hello. Can you please tell us who Mrs. Toyin Poju Oyemade is?

I am a simple young lady trying to discover and live God’s purpose for her life. I am a media person, studied Mass Communication from the University of Lagos. My passion lies in media, ministry and music and the key is to use those areas to touch and impact lives positively and for the kingdom of God.

What inspired Chapters? You could have done a show on music, why books?

For the longest time, I always knew I would have a show or shows. I had started that in the university and when I finished, I went into documentaries but I always knew I would have a flagship show for TV and the online space, I just did not know what it was. When I got married, I remember that my husband would ask me, ‘So what do you say it is that you’re going to do on TV?’ All sort of ideas had come up but I hadn’t felt that one thing that would at least be the first of many. 

Flashback to 2015 I was reading a book, ‘And The Storm Came‘ by Kike Mudiaga where she tells her story of how she went through the loss of her family members and came through. The pain and the story at that particular time resonated with me because it showed how somebody could have gone through so much tragedy and loss, especially as a Christian and still come out whole and complete. It was a time in my life I was thinking about a lot of things and I was also becoming aware of the fact that there seems to be a lot of tragedy, pain and loss in life and people seem to get lost in that space. This was someone who had gone through that and came out to say I’m still standing. 

I remember sitting down reading the book and telling myself ‘somebody needs to know this’, ‘how can I share this story?’ So I called a friend and that was when the idea of doing a show around books came up.  I remembered that when Oprah was doing her show she had something called the Oprah Book Club, a segment of the show where she would talk about a certain book and why people should read it and sometimes she would have the author on the show and talk about the concept of the book. So I thought to myself, ‘Okay, what you are doing is not really different; the only thing is that you’re just taking that part and turning it into a show specifically.’ I called a couple of friends and asked, ‘What do you think about a show on books?’ One or two people thought it was amazing, we went back and forth and came up with the name, ‘ Chapters.

There’s a saying that ‘if you want to hide something from an African man put it in a book.’ I do not like that notion and the truth is they’re so many things written in books that can transform our lives. I want Chapters to help people regain their reading culture and showcase Nigerian authors and books. 

To have a show on books you must be a reader! What encouraged you to start reading and have you been able to sustain it with your very busy schedule? 

I come from an academic family. I read Famous five, Secret Seven, Eze goes to school at a young age because reading was encouraged at home. Then I was an art student in school which involved a whole lot of reading. Besides, I believe reading is a part of my nature. I genuinely like to read. I’ve learnt that we are not as busy as we think we are. It just boils down to structure, lifestyle and balance. If you think the book is important you’d find a way to make sure you make yourself read. 

One thing we are going to try to do with Chapters as well is create a book club because you need to find a way to help people have structure I always say: ‘If it’s a chapter a day, you’re fine; if it’s a page of a chapter a day, at least get something in your brain, get your brain thinking about something. ‘

If you know that you don’t read, you can start with fiction and then you can read deeper topics later but it is important to read. There’s a reason why there are books, and there’s a reason why the Bible was written in book format. It shows that books are important.

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What of people who were not raised to read how can they learn to read? 

First off, as long as you went to school you had to read. So nobody can say. ‘I don’t know how to read.’ You’ve just not rehearsed yourself in the practice of reading. I know so many people struggled through school because reading was hard but if they told you, ‘Open this book and 50 million dollars would come’ everyone would read! Sometimes you just need to find a compelling reason. If you feel reading is hard, audio books are available, just listen. Just start, start with something easy, start with a magazine, start with fashion, something fun. Just read. 

It’s easy to advertise an entertainment show. How do you advertise Chapters? 

Advertising Chapters is daily work, daily wisdom, and daily insight. We use social media mostly – Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube. I think one of the things that makes Chapters special is that every show is different because we’re talking about different authors, subjects and specific things that affect day to day living.

Season One had episodes on finance, wedding planning, leadership, teenage parenting and marriage. These are things that affect me and you so what we are marketing is not the show itself but the concept, the subject matter for that day. We are not just saying watch Chapters because it’s a show, we are saying, ‘Look 2019 is coming and we have an episode on leadership. Listen to this person’s take that may help you decide who you’re going to vote for.’ That makes the marketing more targeted and with social media you just have to find engaging ways to reach people.

The quality of the show is partly dependent on the the books you review. How do you select the books to read?

Selecting the books for Chapters can be interesting. For Season One I went to Laterna and Terra Kulture. We looked for books that spoke to specific issues, anything that concerned life and living with an interesting angle to it.  I read through all the books to have an engaging conversation with the author and to ensure that the values are values I support or want to adopt.

What would Chapters do to anyone who watches it? 

Chapters would educate you. We are an education platform, we’re here for knowledge dissemination and even if it’s not knowledge that you need now, there’s no knowledge gained in life that would not be useful to you. Chapters would empower you to make better decisions.

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What’s your most interesting episode ever? 

All of my episodes of Chapters have touched me but one of the books I like is the book called Conscious Life written by Funmi Oyetunji. It seemed like she sought to write a book that answers all the questions of life from the day you were born till you die. The book is such a complete conversation, broken down properly till the end. All of my books speak to one area of life but this book tried to bring everything into one book and she did massive research. 

Zahra by Sola Aguda is another book and the only fiction book we’ve done. I went to Terra Kulture to look for books and one of the sellers talked about it. Fantastic one. How someone can tell a story about marriage and you’d be so educated? It’s simply an amazing book. Leadership by Dr. Maxwell Uba has also gotten so much traction.

What lessons have you learnt from birthing Chapters?

Wow, so many lessons! 

1 Birthing any idea is hard work and you have to do the hard work to birth it.

2. Believe in yourself and your ideas. I remember when I wanted to start Chapters and I told somebody who I regard as a mentor and he told me nobody wants to watch this. I understand people see the world from their point of view and I had to believe in my dream and although this person has become a staunch supporter, if I had listened at that time, we wouldn’t be here.  People did not see what you saw; so don’t expect them to respond to it the way you will. 

3. Money doesn’t answer all questions. Many times what holds people back on their dreams is that they don’t have money. When I was going to do Chapters, I did not have all the money I needed. I leveraged on friends, relationships and work I had done in the past. I borrowed cameras and other equipment from different people. I couldn’t afford to pay for them but I leveraged. Learn to build bridges in life and understand that no man is an island. The same way you’d need people is the way people will need you. There are people around you that God has given you to help you birth your ideas. I got a space for free to shoot from someone whom I had volunteered with for free for seven years. You have to sow good seeds.

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4. Sometimes the birthing of a dream can be tiring. I remember when we shot the first stage of Chapters, we had done nine episodes and I was tired emotionally exhausted. I was reading books so I was physically exhausted and because I didn’t have money to pay everybody, I was the writer, presenter, producer, director…everything. My brain cells were stretched. I was in a situation where they’d say ‘cut’ and I am thinking of the chapters I had not finished for the next episode. There was a time I had a shoot that morning and I hadn’t finished reading the book and I just told my husband, ‘You know what, I can’t even lie. I haven’t finished reading this book. Just read and tell me where I should focus on.’ 

I was financially tired and I almost entered into depression. We finished shooting and I couldn’t sit down with the editor. I was just like ‘who sent me message?’ The pressure of life is real, the excitement comes but can wash away quickly because the reward for work is more work. We recorded and now we had to edit. Some episodes were 40 minutes and I had to cut down to 25 minutes because it was on television. 

5. When you’re birthing a child everything that can go wrong sometimes goes wrong. It doesn’t mean it’s a foolish idea or you’re not called, it just means life happened. One Tuesday morning, two of our ACs packed up and the two episodes we recorded that day couldn’t be used. We were sweating throughout and we kept saying, ‘Cut cut cut’. That was part of my depression, money wasted. Luckily, we were able to call back the two authors. 

Shooting Season Two, it’s like the forces have said, ‘Even if the AC works, something else won’t work.’ The call time can be 10 am and we won’t do anything till 1 pm, but no matter the challenges, keep pushing. Your dreams will work. 

The reward for work is more work

If there’s a purpose behind what you’re doing you won’t end after one level of glory. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#WriterSpotlight – “Never stop writing. For in continuous writing, you become perfect.” Precious Osikha

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Writer Spotlight has allowed us to meet different amazing writers, publishers, poets and literary giants from all over the world. Today, we are bringing you another amazing writer we met recently. Precious Oshikha is a multi talented woman who amongst other things is a writer, lawyer and the Founder of the Precious Pen Academy, a platform where creatives are groomed and released to do exploits. We hope you love this interview. 

Please tell us about yourself

I am Precious Osikha, popularly known as Precious Pen (African Queen of Suspense). I live in Benin City and I’m the first child of my parents. I had my primary, secondary and university education in Edo State then proceeded to Law School, Abuja, where I got my B.L. 

It’s three years gone already as a Barrister and Solicitor and I’m very thankful to God. Here’s a wrap up of what I am; lawyer, author of the much talked about White Whispers, blogger, script writer, freelancer/ghost writer, content creator, writer and life builder, brand Strategist, actress, singer, dancer, song writer and a literary event manager. These are my majors among many others.  

Wow. That’s a lot. Can you tell us how and why you ventured into writing?

(Smiles). Actually, I started writing at the age of 8. I have had great admiration for authors. Each time I picked a book to read as a child, there was this burning passion in me telling me that I belonged to this world. So writing has always been in me.

How has it been for you so far?

It hasn’t been easy I must say. Life has thrown a lot of obstacles at me. But in all, I am glad to have recorded successes so far. Trying to merge these skills of mine and my profession is just one thing I am grateful for.

What challenges have you encountered?

At the beginning of my writing career, I faced challenges in terms of finance. Each time I needed assistance and I mention the area of writing, people would turn their faces away. It wasn’t easy making the people around me understand how much I loved writing.

Then I also faced some challenges from men who came into my life. I didn’t get enough encouragement from them. I believe that is because they found it quite difficult to accept the true me and my love for writing.

How have you been able to overcome these challenges?

Through prayers, perseverance, patience and my positive mind set.

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You mentioned your book, ‘White Whispers’. Could you please tell us more about it?

If you are looking for a block buster book or let’s say a suspense filled book then White Whispers is a sure bet.

A collection of twenty Short Stories, White Whispers is a narrative collage bordered on love, loss, displacement, and the ‘everydayness’ of identity. The stories, dramatic and prosaic at the same time, attempt to steer the reader to spaces of thought filled with twists and longing. It is spell binding and emotional. The eBook costs N1,000. 

 What inspired you to write the White Whispers and what message do you want the book to pass across?

Awesome life experiences inspired White Whispers.  I want the book to tell people of Love. Hope. Humanity.

What or who is your strongest motivation?

My mother – Mrs Eki Osikha and my dearest companion- Ehi’zogie Iyeomoan.

Tell us about the Precious Pen Academy. What is the Academy all about?

Precious Pen Academy is a subsidiary of Precious Pen Brand itself. While Precious Pen Brand aims at providing services such as freelancing/ghost writing, editorial, publishing, marketing and sales of books, transcribing, scripting, literary event management, graphics design, web development, social media marketing, content creation and lots more; Precious Pen Academy is saddled with the responsibility of building writers and talented people across the globe. We aren’t just aimed at literary people. We are also aiming at training the likes of singers, dancers, actors and business oriented people.  You could see that the Academy has a broad layout to accommodate people and give out solutions to problems. For now, we are just an online/legal entity but soon, we intend to go physical about it. We offer a lot of courses that covers poetry, play writing, self development, brand story telling, fiction and non-fiction writing, running a blog and authorpreneurship. We have an online platform on Facebook with over 1, 500 plus members. We are currently running a program for people to learn the art of script writing for a very affordable token. The program is expected to take place March 29th- 31st, 2018. However, payment is going on now.

So far, how has the academy helped young writers grow?

Honestly, there has been lots of testimonies. Some academicians who came in with little knowledge about writing have improved greatly while some of them have also won prizes.

Recently, the academy got a recommendation from a trainee who subscribed to our course and this attracted other trainees who today are basking in the value they are receiving from the Academy.

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What advice would you give to a budding writer?

Hello budding writers/authors, this thing we call writing is a gift. Use it well. Work hard and have patience. To make profit you must learn to be patient. Do not be desperate. Know your audience. Push for it. Give people information they don’t already know. And don’t be greedy. Always ensure you have a good name.

Keep writing. Never stop writing. For in continuous writing you become perfect. Keep winning.

Where do you see yourself and the academy in years to come?

Wow! I have a lot of aspirations. However, I would have been able to publish so many books and win a lot of prizes and awards, get enough tickets to travel around the world providing my services to better humanity.

The Academy would have been known to be a Top Notch Academy with lots of graduates giving out testimonials and getting recommendations from countries across the globe.

 

 

 

#WriterSpotlight – “When I write, I literally feel I’m in my zone; in my space and I can be me.” Yetunde Oladapo-Sadiq

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From discovering her love for writing at a very young age, Yetunde Oladapo-Sadiq has moved on to use her gift to share a divine message with the world as she constantly encourages God’s children to become who God has called them to be. We love her openness and her commitment to her God-given purpose. You will definitely enjoy our interview with her.

Hello, kindly introduce yourself.

My name is Yetunde Oladapo-Sadiq. I am a wife to a wonderful husband and mother to three amazing children. I am a writer. My writings are usually based on my Christian faith where I explain everyday issues using simple and clear language that can be easily understood. I write to teach, inspire and empower my readers to live their best lives. I am very passionate about this. I love to help people wherever and however I can. This is one of the things I do with my writing. It is one of the reasons I wrote my book, “Let your light so shine: Discover the power of shining your light brightly.”

I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Language and a Masters in International Law and Diplomacy both from the University of Lagos, Nigeria. I am an avid reader and a creative. I love writing, dancing and watching football.

When and why did you start writing?

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. As a little girl, I used to write stories, poems, letters, dialogues, scripts, articles and so on. After school, I was usually dropped off at my parents’ offices to go back home with them in the evening. So, I was surrounded by a lot of activities and of course writing. There was business writing on one hand (my dad) and on the other hand, medical and administrative writing (my mum). I remember going through proposals in my dad’s office and thought of writing mine. I was about 7/8 years old. My mock proposal was to supply stationery to an office in Surulere. I titled it ‘Yety & Co’ and the other one, ‘Yety & Daughters’ (It was always ‘Sons’. I guess I was trying to change the narrative). My dad’s friend was in the office on that day. I showed my dad and he showed his friend. They were very impressed and praised me. They loved what I wrote so much that my dad’s friend started calling me ‘Yety n Co’ till he passed a couple of years ago.

I just kept writing. I remember in secondary school (Queen’s College Yaba), our English teacher asked us to write an introductory paragraph on ‘Superstition’ and instead of defining what it was, I decided to write a conversation between an elderly woman and a girl with the former warning the girl against crossing her legs as she sat on the floor because it was bad luck. Our teacher went round the class checking. She came to my paragraph and read it. She looked up at me and announced that I had the best opening paragraph. She said she was quite surprised. I was quite the chatterbox back in the day. 

I love writing. Some people write to ‘escape’ from their reality. Not me, I love my life and it is often a source of inspiration for my writing. I ‘think’ in writing. Writing comes naturally to me. Over the years, from people’s feedback I discovered that my writing lifted, encouraged and motivated people to live their best. I love helping people and my writing is a platform for me to do this. Writing is what I do. It is who I am. It is definitely a huge part of my life.

 

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You are a wife, a mother and a writer. How have you been able to juggle it all?

My mantra by God’s Grace is – God. Family. Work. I discovered it when I was reading about Mary Kay Ash, America’s renowned female entrepreneur and founder of Mary Kay products. She was reputed to have lived by this order and was still able to run a successful business that is still a multi-billion dollar industry today. I found it very interesting and decided to adopt it. Don’t get me wrong, it can be tough juggling everything but since I placed my priorities in that order, it’s been much easier juggling these roles.

After God, my family comes next before my writing. If there’s a tupsy-turvy, I quickly ‘reset’ to that order. Also, I get my family involved in my writing. I tell my husband about my writing plans and he gives me the necessary support. I also involve my kids. I tell them what I want to write about and explain to them. They are very helpful. They often ask me what chapter I’m on with my books or the progress I have made. They give their input too sometimes. I have learnt that it is easier to juggle these important roles when I let my family on to what I’m doing. When I need to write or meet a deadline, I let them know its importance and that they’ll have to cooperate with me to get the work done. With this, they understand and give me the much needed support. I don’t work my family around my writing; I work my writing around my family. I am self-employed but I also have an effective and good domestic staff support system, which have helped me tremendously. It’s not always easy but with God’s Grace, my priorities set, determination and by focusing on the goal for every aspect of my life, it’s been working well and everyone is happy.

What challenges have you faced so far?

The major challenge I faced which I have overcome (to a large extent) by God’s Grace is being focused on this path of writing. I love writing but I also love other things such as business, self-development, charity, style and so on. I was into quite a number of things but after years of “running” from writing, I finally accepted it as my calling.

Recently, I had an interesting conversation with God and He told me that He knew that I loved all those things. He said He knows that my background exposed me to a plethora of knowledge but He didn’t CALL me to any of those things. He CALLED  me to teach God’s Word through writing. He went on to ask me if I were called by my LG Chairman, State Governor or The President of The Federal Republic of Nigeria at the same time, who would I go to. The President. Exactly. There is a Higher Calling! That jolted me and made me refocus my attention to my writing.

How has writing been for you so far?

Prior to being a full-time writer (if there is such a thing), I worked in corporate Nigeria for 12 years. I resigned in December 2016 and started those other things I mentioned earlier but towards the end of 2017, writing pressed heavily on my mind. The more I focused on it, the more I drifted from those other ‘projects’ to the point I am now. Writing for me so far has been very interesting. So far, I have written my first book. The response to my writing has been more emphatic than to anything I had done previously. It’s what I love to do. It’s not always easy but because I am passionate about helping people and my writing helps me to do this. It makes it fulfilling.

What do you love most about being a writer?

What I love most about being a writer is the freedom it gives me to express myself. When I write, I literally feel I’m in my zone; in my space and I can be me. I love that writing lets me be myself. It’s a wonderful feeling to do what you love to do.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I get my inspiration from life. I am extremely observant about what goes on around me and I am also very moved by it too. So, when I see or ‘feel’ something, the Holy Spirit begins to talk to me about it or what it symbolises and immediately, I want to write about it. I want to share it with others. That’s when you’ll see me reach for my phone’s notepad or my ‘countless’ notebooks and pens to quickly write them down so they won’t ‘fly’. My inspiration is definitely life guided by the Holy Spirit.

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You recently published your book, “Let Your Light So Shine.’ What propelled you to write the book?

I wrote “Let your light so shine: Discover the power of shining your light brightly” at a time in my life when I grew more conscious of being a light for my generation. It was also borne out of observing that many of us Christians are conforming to the systems of the world instead of being transformed daily by the renewing of our minds by God’s Word. Man’s approval of us has become more important than God’s. Instead of the world being like us, we were becoming like the world. I wrote it as an awakening or reawakening for us to be true to who God made us to be i.e. The Light of the World with the power to transform and influence those around us. It is a call to us Christians to be (more) intentional about shining our light in a dark world and unearthing the power that lies within us.

Why did you decide to publish only the e-version of your book?

I decided to do this so people could read it anywhere on their electronic devices. I wanted them to always have access to it anytime particularly when they needed insight, encouragement and lifting as they walked daily with God. I wanted it to be something they could just pull out of their back pockets or handbags and read on the go. A sort of spirituality meets convenience.

What influence do you believe the book will have on people?

The influence I believe my book will have on people is courage. The boldness to be who God has made them to be i.e. the light of the world. I believe it will also make them get a fresh perspective on what this entails and see it as a divine responsibility. My book also discussed using our talents and gifts as ‘lampstands’ to elevate our light and shine brightly before men as we ought to. Most of all, I believe my book will cause people to transform and influence the lives around them positively. 

What advice would you give an upcoming writer?

Stay focused on your writing. Write every time irrespective of the length. I discovered that the more you write, the better you get at it. Develop your craft as much as possible. Learning never ends. You’ll also learn to connect better with your readers. Appreciate your readership. Don’t forget to show gratitude to those that have been supporting your writing since you started. Let your writing be clear  and simple so you can communicate your message effectively.

Where can readers get a copy of your book?

My book is available on Kindle Amazon for $2.99 as an eBook. It’s also available as a PDF downloadable format. This package also includes the Cover Design and ‘About the Author’. To purchase a copy, an email should be sent with the subject ‘My Copy’ to letyourlightsoshinebook@yahoo.com or oladaposadiqyetunde@gmail.com. It’s N1,500

 If you could spend time with three writers, who would you pick and why?

Ha! My three writers would be:

Wole Soyinka – I mean, ‘The Trials of Bro Jero’ satirical comedy at its best!

Francine Rivers – I mean, how dare she take me back to Ancient Rome to meet Hadassah in the ‘Mark of the Lion Trilogy?’ How dare she write ‘’Redeeming Love’ and keep Angel’s real name till the end? She is an exceptionally gifted writer.

Writers – I am an avid reader. I read a lot! From articles to Googling information about people, television shows of the past, to business models, online courses, how-to’s, history, sports news…Name it, I’ll read it as long as I find it godly, informative, interesting and captivating. So, any writer who writes any of these, I’d like to spend time with them for their wealth of knowledge.

 

 

#WriterSpotlight – ‘Writing is my most potent form of expressing myself.’ Blessing Okoro

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We just love it when we find writers who receive a vision to write a book and follow through with that vision despite that challenges that comes their way. Blessing Okoro is one of such writers. For two years, she nurtured a dream given to her by God to write a book. Several obstacles, including having to re-write her manuscript, tried to prevent her from achieving this dream, but she kept pushing. Not only is Blessing a published author, she is also proof that succeeding as a writer requires passion, grit and above all, following the purpose of God.

Enjoy our interview with her.

Hello Blessing, please introduce yourself.

My name is Blessing Ofure Okoro. I am an inspired writer, speaker, and blogger. I enjoy the soothing feel of words in form of quotes, poems, inspirational write-ups and Christian literature. Having written consistently since the day I started blogging in my hostel room while I was a student at Covenant University in 2013, I believe that the grace of God and the power of consistent writing have made me the refined writer I am today.

In terms of work experience, I have worked over the last three years as a Management Consultant and an Auditor in two international professional services firms. I am currently an IMBA student in France and I remain passionate about gleaning an international corporate experience.

When did you discover your love for writing?

It was at the age of 11, I had read a poetry book and developed the urge to write like that. This is the major storyline in Chapter 2 of my book. My love for poetry was very emotional, and it was more of an innate talent that needed to be awaken. Later on, I discovered my love for experiential write-ups which were inspired by the Scriptures, my daily experiences, the inspirational books I read and my understanding of the topics I remain passionate about (such as dream actualization, purpose, and Christian living). Looking back today, I would say that it has been an amazing journey and I look forward to greater years of discovery.

How has your writing improved over the years?

My writing has improved through prayers and the strength for consistency. When I started sharing my poems, write-ups and other pieces on my blog, blessingshares.com in 2013, that was a major milestone. Those steps of putting my written pieces out there continuously, getting comments and reviews, doing writing collaborations with other Bloggers, reading other write-ups to learn how to write better, and even writing on days I did not feel like it – all these and more have led to huge improvements from when I started out as a writer. For all these and more, I am certainly grateful.

Congratulations on the launch of your book ‘They told us to dream.’ How did you feel when you held the published copy?

Thank God for the miracle. When my book was released in November 2017, I said to myself, ‘The achievement of a dream is a miracle!’ It’s amazing what God did, I really cannot take the glory. I had almost given up on the dream, but God helped me. It was over two years of nurturing the dream of becoming an Author – through it all, it is a reality today and I give all the glory to Jesus Christ.

What inspired you to write this book?

It was more like, ‘Who?’ It was God because the nuggets shared in the book were extracted from the stages and lessons of my dream-filled life. Having to put all of those experiences into coherent words that flow properly and getting to inspire another dreamer to achieve greatly – it is definitely an inspiration only God could give. The reason I decided to encourage a fellow dreamer was that I was tired of seeing people give up on amazing dreams, just because they lacked the relevant knowledge and drive to achieve those dreams. In the words of one of the reviewers, “It is a powerful book of deliverance. I see it releasing people to dream big dreams and live fulfilling lives.” I see the book as this and more and I pray everyone that has read and will still read the book will be inspired to achieve their dreams in grand style.

You must be a dreamer yourself, what dreams of yours are you pursuing presently?

Currently, my MBA Degree. I had this dream since 2014. Thank God for its season of fulfillment.

Can you tell us what you hope to achieve with this book?

In a broad mission statement, I pray the book will get to every ‘dreamer’ out there to ensure they turn each dream they ever have into reality. In terms of a specific value proposition, I hope to ignite a dream experience among dreamers (particularly the youths) in various countries of the world – an experience that will make every dreamer realize that although living out a dream can be a real maze, you are not alone – let’s go on making an amazing maze and achieving our dreams per time. In terms of goal matrices, I aim to sell over one million copies of this Dreamer’s Digest worldwide by the grace of God.

 

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What do you love most about being a writer?

The freedom from writing your own words. The blessing of inspiring others to live their best lives. The calmness brought from written pieces. Writing is my most potent form of expressing myself – Yeah. I love that people appreciate the talent of writing. I found this out recently when my book got published, people were so amazed and happy for me – it was a major experience when I fully realized that I love being a writer, you know. Having the God-given gift of writing and inspiring others – that’s priceless and for that, I am truly grateful.

We know you enrolled with our writing coach. Can you tell us how this experience helped you, especially with achieving your writing goals?

I mainly enrolled for the timeline coaching. I had a one-hour session with Adedoyin Jaiyesimi to explain my self-publishing journey and to come up with a timeline towards the book release. It was a good coaching experience, I enjoyed her listening ability and the knowledge shared. More importantly, the timeline document Adedoyin came up with were value-adding, the timeliness of the service and also her flexibility to update the document when we needed that. I will say it helped me to have a date in mind and even when the lags came, I kept on pushing up until my final book release date on the 19th of November, 2017.

Tell us how the publishing process for your book went and the lessons learned.

Hmmmm. I can have another book on this. Matter of fact, I have to prepare a course to share my lessons and the pitfalls budding authors who are self-publishing need to avoid. It was a journey of literal highs and lows. The highs were the miracles each day: for the wisdom for each stage of self-publishing, for the five-star reviews on Amazon, for having the books printed in less than a week, after many years of having that dream and so on. The lows cut across: having to rewrite my first manuscript, experiencing time lags during the layout phase because of the rigor and so many disappointments that I have forgotten as at today. You see, God’s grace was sufficient for me. It was majorly two years of learning, unlearning and relearning. I will do a summary of the lessons at this stage.

My high-level lessons are: book cover going in for printing should not be in Photoshop, the manuscript going into print should be in A5 and sign your contracts with clauses that say, we are not done until the book is printed well. More subtle lessons but highly important are: pick a catchy title that will give people an epic reaction, tell everyone you are writing a book at every single stage of your journey and get a book budget projection plan.

Where can readers get a copy of your book?

Yes! Thank for this question. The book is available on Amazon worldwide. The paperback can be delivered nationwide in Nigeria when you order on the official website theytoldustodream.com

For inquiries on bulk orders and orders in general, you can follow my official Instagram page blessingshares_official or simply send a mail to ofure.okoro@gmail.com.

What’s your advice to writers who have been working on a writing project for so long and are getting tired?

Four potent points to run with:

  • Add your book writing dream to your prayer list daily- you need a miracle;
  • It’s possible you are knowledge drained – pay for relevant coaching and apply the knowledge gained;
  • It is a tiring journey – as long as you’ve started, just keep going – that’s a major cure for the exhaustion;
  • I will love to hear your story, you could send me a mail or contact me via my business page, BlessingShares on Facebook.

In conclusion pray, keep going and never give up.

 

#WriterSpotlight – “I hope and pray for a moment where individuals will see me and say Ifeoma, your book changed my life.” Ifeoma Ugboma

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Hey Sparkle Writers! Are your ready to be inspired by another writer? Our guest on today’s Writer Spotlight published her first book after being inspired by a story she wrote when she was eleven years old!  Enjoy our interview with Ifeoma Ugboma.

Hello Ifeoma, please introduce yourself

Hello, I am Ifeoma Irene Ugboma, a beautiful (smirks) young woman from Bende L.G.A of Abia state. I am a Christian but of course I am open to any other religion around the globe. Ifeoma is a young writer, a student studying Radiography and Environmental Science & Resource Management at University of Uyo and National Open University respectively, certified health and safety supervisor, oil and gas document controller and first aid administrator although I am not yet practicing in these fields. My aim is to gather up these skills so that I can be eligible for any job in the labour market whenever I am ready.

I am a voracious reader but a reserved and lazy writer (laughs); literally lazy because most times when I want to write, something will just surface and I will postpone it. You know that kind of stuff but nonetheless writing is one of my hobbies. I love tourism and to top it all, Ifeoma loves singing.

You are a writer, girl child advocate, educator and peace advocate. How do you combine all these roles effortlessly?

Yes I am and I think I am doing well by God’s grace. I always tell friends and family members that there is no greater force that can drive one towards the path of success and accomplishment except passion.

I am passionate about the wellbeing of the girl child, writing, and peace advocacy and it’s something I see myself doing effortlessly because I love it and when you love something, doing it wouldn’t be a problem at all. I try to adjust my academic schedules so that my extra curricular activities can fit in and I thank God who has been giving me the strength and the support I need.

What do you love most about writing?

Writing makes me a psychologist and a creator. It is quite awesome for someone to create. So writing gives me the platform to be a psychologist and a creator. And the part I love most is how the characters you create in abstract exist in reality. This is the part where you read reviews from readers telling you, “This is/was my life story ” and sometimes, your readers merge their lives with that of your character and they live your book.

I love that writing gives you the ability to change something or someone with the writer’s abstract ideas

You published a book, ‘Echoes of Mercy.’ What inspired this story?

Echoes of Mercy is a story I wrote when I was 11 years old, being a lover of books and someone who loves to scribble stuff from a young age. There was this woman I knew back then, she came to the children department of Christ Ascension Church and cried to our head teacher to let the children pray for her because her marriage was at the verge of being destroyed. Our Sunday school teacher took some of us, the prayer warriors then to her house to pray for her. Even though I couldn’t understand every detail of her story, I knew that the husband wanted to leave her because she was too ‘churchy’. Her story struck my imagination. I wrote down moments with her in my diary then I grew with it. Even though I didn’t know what later happened in her life, that particular incident and my desire to let people out there know that God can still do wonders if you stick to Him was what inspired me and I tried to imagine how it all began in the life of that woman, the kind of man she was married to and how to deal with the husband if I was God and that was Echoes of Mercy.

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How long did it take to finish writing, editing and publishing and what setbacks did you encounter while working on your book?

Eleven years old back then and now I am 22, so you can imagine. I decided to make that story into a book last year September. I wake up every morning to write down ideas and the best way to develop the story and when I was done, my publisher recommended an editor who did a great job and the book was out on December 30th 2017. So, it took me four months to develop the story and get it out there for people to read. Setbacks?  Of course I had setbacks, from writing and trying to meet up with the deadline I had set for myself. There were times I had blocks. I ran out of words, the right words to express the emotions I needed the readers to feel. Then editing, I had to pay for that and he charged professionally regardless of the fact that this Ifeoma is a student. Then time was another setback. I wanted Echoes of Mercy to be out before December but fate is always a double edged sword. I thank God who made it a success

What three lessons did you learn about publishing in Nigeria while working on this project?

Honestly, I am super impressed. My publisher and the entire Words Rhymes and Rhythm team were awesome.

First is professionalism. He didn’t do any hasty work. He gave his professional advice on the cover page, on the about page and the rest. This will make every of their published work top-notch and that is absolutely fantastic. 

Then transparency, they are transparent enough to make sure you get the value of whatever amount you are investing in your publishing work.

Lastly, they are united. They are in the quest to help young and aspiring writers to achieve their goals. That is to say they have been motivating people like us and that is fabulous

Echoes of Mercy is free on the OkadaBooks platform, why is it so?

It is free on Okada books because I wanted it to be in every heart. And with the testimonies lately, I think I have achieved that and I am hoping to get the message across to as many people as possible.

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Who is your all-time favourite writer in Africa and why?

I love Chimamanda Adichie. That woman is an icon. I love her writing and lifestyle. I mean it is absolutely beautiful for one to remain true to her roots no matter the heights attained.

Since you have other roles, how do you fit writing into your schedule?

It is not always easy, especially when one has to manage two courses and other activities but writing is what I find myself doing even during lectures. I plan my days. When I know I am going to have a busy day, I write in the morning but other days with less activities, I write anytime of the day

Where can readers get a copy of your book?

It is available on Amazon and OkadaBooks. We are still working on getting the paperback available in book stores nationwide.

What’s your ultimate goal as a writer

My goal is to be able to solve real life problems with written words. I hope and pray for a moment where individuals out there see me and say “Ifeoma, your book changed my life,” “Ifeoma, your book made me who I am today” and so many other heart warming compliments. That will make me fulfilled as a writer

 

 

 

#WriterSpotlight – When it comes to writing, Eketi Ette is on a roll!

Hey Sparkle Writers, you are not ready for the amazingness our interview with Eketi Edima Etti contains! Our first #WriterSpotlight for the year is loaded with wisdom and wit. If you have multiple passions you certainly would learn a thing or two from Eketi. 

Enjoy her interview with us.

Hello, Eketi. Kindly tell us about yourself.  Where do I begin?

I am your average girl next door. The first child of the family, Christian, vivacious, lover of life and people. I am a multi-passionate person. I have several passions and I’ve tried my hands at acquiring the skills to go with them. So, I’m a lawyer, author, editor, content creator, farmer, entrepreneur, MC, actor and social media manager. It’s a lot, I know.

How long have you been writing?

Since I was four years old. Blame my mother. She started me on the path by making me write letters to her and my father at least once a week. However, I didn’t take my writing seriously until 2011. That’s when I decided what I did was worth giving more time and attention to.

How has it paid off for you?

It has, in ways I never imagined when I started out. The most important part of it all has been the journey of self-discovery it’s taken me on.

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You are well known for your funny and highly engaging stories on Twitter, what’s your source of inspiration?

Life and people. The one recurrent comment I hear when people read my stories is that they can relate to them. Our world is filled with very interesting people and their lives are interwoven tapestries of compelling stories.

What genre of writing do you focus on and why?

Fiction is my major genre. My head is an interesting place and my imagination constantly demands that I give it a chance to express itself in words.

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Your book ‘Chinda Ella’s is making waves online. Tell us about it.

It’s a humorous Nigerian parody of the popular fairytale, Cinderella.

What inspired you to write the book?

I love fairytales and folklore. So, one day, I was watching the latest Cinderella movie. When I got to the scene where she fled the palace leaving her shoe behind, I was struck by something I’d never noticed before.

According to her Fairy Godmother, everything was supposed to change back to what they were before, at midnight. But the shoes didn’t change. Why?

I was like, “Lai lai! Dis tin na scam!” And then it hit me—why don’t you write a Nigerian parody of this story, using this scene as the cornerstone? Make it as outrageous as possible.

And so, Chinda Ella was born.

 

Last year, you were named one of 100 most influential Nigerian writers under 40, how did you get to that point?

Honest answer? I don’t know. I didn’t set out to be influential and I wasn’t expecting the nomination either. I guess, when you’ve been at something for long enough, people notice. It does feel good though, being noticed.

What do you love most about being a writer?

The fact that I utterly enjoy doing it. Every time I write, I do so for the love of words and the ease with which they come to me.

What’s your advice to an upcoming writer?

First, write. You get better at your craft when you keep practicing. It is in doing this that you find your unique writing voice and style. Secondly, don’t write for praise, especially the kind on social media. Write first for you, with your audience being the secondary consideration.

Lastly, don’t you dare compare yourself to another writer. Do you.

 

 

#WriterSpotlight – For Adebisi Olaniyi as long as there’s life, the ink will always flow

 

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It’s the last Thursday before we close for the year and we have an amazing writer, Adebisi Olaniyi to end this segment of #WriterSpotlight with us. She’s got a heart of gold and it shows through her words. Her desire to use her words to heal hearts is commendable and you’d learn from her. Enjoy her interview with us.

Hello Adebisi. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?

I am Adebisi Olaniyi. A Christian, a wife, a mother and a teacher.

How did your journey as a writer begin?

I have always loved to write, in my secondary school days, I wrote articles, poems, songs, and stories. I was always one of those who wrote the good essays. I knew there just had to be something with me, talking and writing. I made a consistent effort to develop my desire to write. I was a member of the literary and debating society, drama club and I readily made myself available for every opportunity to speak and prepare an article. I actually have a novel unpublished, I wrote that book before I got into the university and the title plays in my head all the time “The Recorder’’ I just might bring it to life. I like to put my thoughts in writing, where my mouth fails me sometimes, my pen never does. There’s no story as to how I started writing but for as long as I can remember I have always loved writing, It is a gift that has been expressed at every stage of my life.

What do you love most about writing?

I love the fact that writing helps me realise myself and also helps others realise a part of themselves. It is healing for me and healing for the reader, I like the fact that writing is selfless, more than anything I seek the joy, satisfaction and change of someone I may never meet. Every time I put a pen on paper, it is so that a life may be excited, hopeful and changed with the knowledge of those words.

In what ways has your writing grown since you stated writing?

It has a better structure, I know my audience, I have my message. Recently as a way of living love I started a poem series that has people’s names as titles. That has been widely received, many people have asked for their poems as well and that is refreshing. I recently made a poetry delivery at a send forth and people felt the emotions in the words, some were in tears and daily I am relating well with the power of words. Soon I just might take those deliveries to weddings. I see how people are moved by my words and how I have learnt overtime to organise my thoughts for every audience.

Where do you get inspiration from when you want to write a story?

My inspiration comes from God and His creation, most things I write about are usually in line with His word, lives and lessons I’ve learnt over time.

There are people who believe that writing can never be financially rewarding. What are your thoughts about this?

The most noble and life changing visions are never truly measured by money but the heart. It is true that you may not get ‘gbem’ money from writing but there are people who have made a honest and comfortable living from writing. Write because you like to write. Write because you have things to share, write because there’s a void to feel. You see the heart of riches that comes with writing far exceeds any financial compensation at least for my kind of writing. The lives that find company, The hearts that are renewed, The legs that get to work simply by reading your words. No writer should choose that over money. It may not be as financially rewarding as we would hope but its price is far above money.

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You authored your first book ‘Pointless’. What inspired that daring title?

Pointless was a word divinely received. It was after the book had being written that the title formed its essence. God was simply saying at the point of purpose, at the point where love should be expressed, if we are living less than the intentions of the creator, then that would be POINTLESS.

What major lessons have you learnt since you published the book?

That there’s a meeting place for all humans and it is in the heart of love. We are all equal with different abilities, we need each other and more than anything we need to love beyond what we see. Love is big and deep. Writing has helped me to understand what God truly intends for us and I am trying to live that in the gift of everyday.

What do you want your book to achieve?

If I could make it happen, the book would be free but I can’t afford that right now. But I have given a good number as gifts to people. I hope that the world will see and receive the message in the book because if we all receive the message as purely as God intended, we would be better people and the world will be beautiful again.

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What is your ultimate dream as a writer?

For hearts to be happy, merry and changed through the words I write. That through the words I have written many years from now, people will know my cause and interest even when they may never meet me and live believing that there’s love in their heart bigger than the pain in the world. You know nothing brings joy than a book or write up that fulfills its breathed purpose in the lives of others.

 

Do you think you will ever retire from writing?

No I won’t, God helping me. As long as there is life, The ink never stops flowing.

Aside from writing, what are your other hobbies?

Teaching, Cooking, Dancing, Acting, Composing, Speaking, and most recently designing.

Any advice for other writers who have stalled in publishing their books?

Writing is a call to heal and share. What do you have that is worth sharing? What purpose do you seek to serve? Entertainment, motivational. Whatever it is find your art and stay consistent. Your motivation should be in those you seek to share with. Writing is personal and until you find your own reason, you may not get around it, many have lost the sense of their reason and are frustrated and lost in their own art. Once you know why, you just keep going and don’t stop for the sake of those who always need your reminder. So whatever you have in your hands now, please put it out there, someone needs to read it. No better time than now when the world needs the comfort and company of inspired words.

 

To reach Adebisi or buy her books visit her instagram page, @prime_pen or blog.