#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 – “Your followers won’t come overnight. Originality will bring them to you, but consistency will keep them with you.” Abiola Adebola

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Hey Sparkle Writers! It’s Thursday and you know what that means. It’s time to meet another amazing writer! Today, we have Abiola Adebola as our guest and we really enjoyed our chat with him. There are lots of useful nuggets to gain from today’s Writer Spotlight on The Sparkle Writer’s Hub. Enjoy!

Hello Abiola, kindly introduce yourself.

My name is Abiola Abdullateef Adebola (Abiola AA). I am a Dramatic Arts graduate of Obafemi Awolowo University. I am a freelance writer, a PR strategist, an actor and a director.

At what point did you decide you wanted to be a writer?

I fell in love with writing as a kid. I was always alone, so writing just kind of became my way of handling my emotions. I think I pretty much made up my mind to be a writer back then.

How has the journey been so far?

Good, mostly rough but that’s why it’s been good. I have enjoyed the challenges, the setbacks, but then I have had very good friends who have encouraged me to go all the way. God really blessed me with amazing friends.

You studied dramatic arts in school, how did that help your writing skill?

It helped in a way I guess, though I majored in Directing in my final year, but I have always paid more attention to the playwrights who were my lecturers. They had a great impact on my writing career.

You mentioned that you are also a script writer. Can you tell us how that different from regular writing?

I enjoy both. I enjoy creating lines for characters, and I also enjoy the freedom that comes with writing prose, not having to create discussions between actors. At the end of the day, you are telling a story in both cases, just different techniques being used.

Congratulations on the launch of your book ‘Catharsis‘. Why did you decide to write a book that bares it all?

I was going through a lot of things when I started writing Catharsis. I had just lost a movie deal that was going to change my life, my brother’s health was deteriorating, my mum was very sad and I was very sad. I wrote the book in less than a month. I was that down at that moment and it was the only thing I could think of doing. I just had to purge it all. I had too much pain in my system, and too much ‘nature’ too. If I didn’t bare it all out, who knows what I would have done to myself.

In one of your Instagram posts you talked about how stressful the process of writing this book was. Could you tell us some of the challenges you faced and how you overcame them?

It was more of an emotional stress. I was scared that people may judge me for the things I wrote in Chapter 3, that my mum may see it and she may be disappointed in me, you know how African parents are. I was also worried about the literary critics, those who may say the book is too short to be a book, those who may not understand that I have no interest in the rules. Lastly, I didn’t think I was big enough to write an autobiography, like who am I to write about myself? So how did I overcome these fears? I decided to damn the consequences and put my story out there. Thank God I did.

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

Take risks, take a lot of risks, do things your own way, the world will adjust. Donald Trump is President of the United States of America. Anything is possible.

What has the response been since you launched Catharsis?

It’s been amazing. I expected judgment and criticism, considering the kind of society we live in, but people concentrated on my story, and not my mistakes. Even my mum ended up reading the whole book. Despite the fact that I tore the pages of Chapter 3 from the copy I gave her, she still found a way to read the whole thing, and she didn’t judge me. She didn’t scold me. She understood, and she chose to encourage me. That has to be the best thing that’s happened to me all my life.

What impact will the book have on readers?

Owning your truth, and harnessing it. You don’t have to look like where you are from or what you have been through. The sun will rise again if you keep fighting.

Many writers struggle to get a good following but you have managed to overcome that. Can you tell us a few things every budding writer needs in order to build a strong presence online?

I think a lot of writers stopped writing because of the size of their audience, that’s sad. Your followers won’t come overnight. Originality will bring them to you, but consistency will keep them with you. I took a lot of online social media courses which helped me capture my target audience. I am a PR strategist like I mentioned earlier, so it’s my job to build brands.

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

I want to make Catharsis a movie, a timeless one. I want to write more books, non-fiction mostly. I want to help a lot of people write their stories. I also want to help writers gain more respect here in Nigeria. In years to come, I want to look back and see that these dreams have come true.

Where can readers get a copy of your book?

You can purchase a hard copy directly from me. You can also go on Okadabooks to get a soft copy. If you are in the US, UK, Canada, you can order from Amazon.com.

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

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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.

 

#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 – “I love writing because it let’s me have my say in a world that drowns opinions with noise.” Kukogho Iruesiri Samson

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Hello Samson, kindly introduce yourself

Kukogho Iruesiri Samson is a Nigerian writer, publisher, multimedia journalist and youth mentor. He is known for his work with young Nigerian writers and the promotion of Nigerian writing through his multi-platform educational and publishing firm, Words Rhymes & Rhythm Ltd. Kukogho has authored a quadrilogy of poetry collections — What can words do (2013) and I said these words (2015), Words of eros (2017) and WE WHO Sowed hurt and beaded pains (2017) and has won accolades for his writing, including the Orange Crush 1st Prize for Poetry in 2012, the Nigerian Writers Award (NWA) for ‘Best Poet In Nigeria 2015’ and the 2017 ANA Prize For Fiction (First-Runner-Up), for his unpublished novel, The Devil’s Pawn. He was also listed among the Nigerian Writers Awards’ list of 100 Most Influential Nigerian Writers Under 40 in 2016.

When and why did you start writing?

I can’t remember when I actually started writing, but I can remember that I has some written works as far back as 1998, though I was more of an artist – painting, drawing, sculpting, etc, than a writer. I started writing out of a need to talk to someone about my imaginations and opinions. I was in a dysfunctional family setting and naturally, I had a lot going on inside that I needed to express. Writing came in handy.

 

 

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What do you love about writing?

Writing, and indeed art in general, is an escape as well as an opportunity to express. It lets me say it all without saying too much. The fact that I communicate thoughts and meaning to others is what endears me to writing. Above all, it lets me have my say in a world that drowns opinions with noise.

You’ve authored four books, all poetry; can you explain your love for this genre of writing?

Well, as you may be aware, I write prose as well. As a matter of fact, my journey into writing began with prose. I had written for many years before I tackled poetry. My first completed book is a novel, finished since 2010. However, I have four collections of poetry simply because it is easier to compile short poems than to produce a prose masterpiece worthy of publication – in my own estimation, that is.

You founded Word, Rhyme and Reason (WRR) sometime in 2012. Can you tell us what informed the decision?

It was simple: young writers were not being heard and I, being one of them, thought there was a need for a platform that took them into consideration…and WRR was born.

 

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How did it grow from a page to a publishing house that has discovered many young literary talents?

I never expected that we would grow this big and so fast. However, I wouldn’t say that I am surprised because a lot of efforts and funds have been committed to the WRR project since 2012 and it is only natural that growth should occur. It is a project dear to my heart and the hearts of many a young Nigerian writer.

Authorpedia is dedicated to celebrating authors in Nigeria. What inspired the decision to start up the page?

Just like WRR was founded to cater for young writers, Authorpedia emerged to fill the gap for Nigerian authors. We rely too much on mainstream and international media to talk about our writers. Authorpedia hopes to raise awareness about the Nigerian literary space, with a focus on books and authors of Nigerian descent.

Empowering people has a way of helping you grow. What have you benefited from these platforms primarily founded to impact lives?

Just as you have noted, you can’t empower others without growing. It has come naturally for me. I daresay I wouldn’t be so successful in all other areas of my life if I hadn’t taken the WRR project seriously.

Collaboration is the new competition. What organizations would you love to partner with in the nearest future and why?

Those who know how we operate at WRR know that we hardly seek out sponsors because of the ever-present urge to censor what you sponsor. We have been fully self-funded over the years, with a few collaborations here and there. However, we are willing to partner with ANY and EVERYONE interested in the growth of the Nigerian literary industry.

As a publisher what should a writer know before setting out to publish a book?

The quality of your work must come first. This is non-negotiable.

What’s your ultimate goal as a writer?

Write and publish as many books as possible before I die.

 

 

#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.

 

5 tips to help you coin the best title for your book

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How many of you reading this post right now were not drawn to it by the title? You probably clicked the link to this post because the headline triggered your interest. The same situation could be obtainable in a bookshop or library. The first thing that catches your attention in such a place could either be the title of the book or the design of the book cover.

Titles are not to be chosen haphazardly. Titles are like the sun around which the entire writing revolves round and if it is done wrong, your book will suffer for it. We have some tips to help in guiding you towards the choice of a title. They are as follows:

Avoid one-word titles

This is relevant because one word titles would make it difficult to distinguish between your book and other online articles with the same word in them. For example, if your choice for a title is “Thrones” and somebody wants to search for your book on the web, it would be almost impossible for your book to come up on the first page because there are so many articles on the web containing “thrones” in them.

Give your readers a hint.

This simply means that your titles should be crafted in such a way that it gives a hint of what the book is about and creates suspense in the mind of the potential reader at the same time.

Avoid duplicates.

This involves surfing the web to know if your intended title has already been used before. If you do not do this, you might find yourself as the author of a book with the same title as some other renowned author. The implication of finding yourself in that spot is that your work as an author would, most likely, be perceived as lacking originality.

Capture your niche.

This simply means that your title should encapsulate the genre in which your book belongs. Do not title a fiction book like it is a science fiction book or a memoir. Make sure the title gives your potential readers a clue as to what they should expect from the book.

Make it simple and easy to remember.

You definitely do not want to give your book a title that people would struggle to remember. Make sure that your title is simple and can roll off the tongue easily.

We really do hope these tips helped you!

#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