#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.

Walking Mouth

“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.

In defence of The Weak man

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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#WritingQuote – Figure out what you have to say. That’s what you have to offer.

 

Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.Barbara Kingsolver

Do you constantly feel the need to conform to people’s opinion of what you should write? Do you feel intimidated when someone says, “That character is too controversial” or “This chapter should be more dramatic.” If you do then this is for you.

Say for example, you love to write poetry but you are thinking of switching to prose or drama because you think it’s more popular. This move may seem logical but could be very detrimental. Strength lies in differences, not similarities and success stems from your passion and patience to see your dreams through.  

Everyone has a story, a source of inspiration, a writing style. So, never feel the need to conform or be like someone else because you are unique. You are different.

Trusting your individual uniqueness challenges you to lay yourself open and write as your heart truly speaks. Many of the accomplished and widely celebrated writers in the world are known for their distinct writing styles.

Taking correction is a very healthy thing to do. But you must ensure you do not water down the value of your essence as a writer. You do not need to be like anyone else.

Stay true to yourself. Only then can you be peculiar. Only then can you be YOU!

 

3 Ways to overcome writing challenges

Being a writer is a wonderful experience, but there are some challenges which I face on a daily basis. Here are three writing challenges which I often experience, and how I overcome them:

CHALLENGE 1: Poor internet connectivity.

SOLUTION: Schedule/plan posts in advance.

Being a writer in Nigeria who uses social media to share my work means that I am always at the mercy of the internet service providers that I use, whose quality of services are at best, average. If you want to make me happy, just whisper the words ‘free Wi-Fi’ to me! I suspect that my wedding vows would include ‘for better, for worse, for free Wi-Fi connectivity…’

I deal with this issue by planning my posts at least a few weeks in advance, and I have learned that for a lot of providers, the internet quality is better in the early hours of the morning. So please, don’t judge me too harshly if there are bags under my eyes; blame the internet quality by my service providers.

Dealing with this issue gives me more time to focus on writing, and reduces the time I spend frowning at my phone when the internet service is too slow for my liking.

 

CHALLENGE 2: Writer’s block.

SOLUTION: Don’t stop writing.

I know what you’re thinking: you’re complaining that you have writer’s block, and I’m saying that the solution to this problem is to keep writing? Please don’t close this page out of annoyance; just keep reading to get my point.

If there is something which I have learned from writing for almost two and a half years, it is that no piece of writing is useless. I have turned half-written stories into poems, and I have turned a poem into one of the first essays which I wrote for another website.

If you’re stuck in one part of a story that you are writing, move on to another part of the story. What happens after that scene? Describe what the main character had for breakfast. What subjects did the character write in his or her WAEC exams? Eventually, the story will get unstuck and you can get on with writing your prize-winning novel, or at least a story that gets a lot of likes on your blog.

 

CHALLENGE 3: Negative feedback.

SOLUTION: Analyse the feedback, and remember the purpose for your writing.

On my blog, someone once commented that the way I wrote a poem was not how a poem should be written. The poem however got a lot of likes, which meant that for me, the poem had resonated with people, so it had achieved its intended purpose.

Corrections about grammatical errors aren’t bad; however, rude comments which personally attack you and your writing are the worst.

So what can you do about this?

First of all, if people are giving you feedback, it means that they are reading your work, which is awesome! Next, if you are getting constructive criticism about your writing (for instance, being told to use more paragraphs so that your work is easier to read), you can take it on board since it helps your work to be easier to read and therefore attract more readers.

When submitting a story for a contest, for publication on a platform with a wide audience or before publishing a book, I always get one or two people to read my work first so I can get feedback which I can choose to accept or dismiss, depending on if I believe such feedback improves my work.

I have grown as a writer since I first started this journey, so I know that as I navigate through the above challenges, my writing will keep improving and more people will enjoy reading my work.

I hope this has been helpful to writers out there!

About the writer:

Ivie Eke is a writer who daydreams about constant electricity in Nigeria and mangoes. She writes poetry, stories and essays on her blog, http://www.classicallyivy.com and is the author of two books, ‘Looking for myself and my phone charger’ and ‘Walking On Eggshells’, both available on Okada Books and Amazon.

 

 

 

#WordOfTheDay – Learn what canorous means

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Hello Sparkle Writers! We are back with another word for you to learn. Ever heard of canorous before? We stumbled on it on Oxford’s weird word list and we are still not sure why they consider it a weird word. 

Canorous /kəˈnɔːrəs/ is an adjective that can be used to describe a song or speech as melodious or resonant. For example:

Nightingales are canorous birds.

Belting out a canorous tune, the singer’s beautiful voice seemed to entrance everyone around.

Giving a canorous speech to the attentive crowd, the speaker’s voice carried beautifully throughout the arena.

Here are a few words that are similar in meaning to canorous: melodious, pleasant, harmonious, clear, soft.

Now make your own sentences with this word. 

#GrammarSeries – Here’s how to improve your grammar

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Learning to write good English can be a slow process. Every time you think you have written a word-perfect piece, someone points out a mistake or mistakes you just didn’t see anything wrong with. 

Not anymore, here are a few ways to improve your grammar. 

Read as much as you can

In today’s world, many people prefer reading blogs, posts on social media and chats to good books. If you want to write better, read newspapers, magazines, reports and materials in your niche area. This will give you a better understanding of grammar and how not to write. 

Avoid those slangs

We know you want to look and sound cool but those slangs will not help your written or spoken English. Be careful not to allow slangs to creep into your written work. Words such as ‘innit’ and ‘dunno’ are not considered proper English grammar, and should not find their way into formal written communications.

Find a personal/ online tutor

If your written English is pretty bad, you may need to employ the services of a teacher to help you brush up your skills or learn online. Learn about sentence structure, punctuation, proper spelling and much more.  

For online assistance you can check SpellCheckOnline.com ,  WordReference.com  or OxfordDictionaries.com 

Social media myths every blogger should get rid of

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Every blogger knows that social media cannot be avoided especially if you want to be successful as a  blogger. There are however a few myths about social media that you need to take note of. We shared four of such myths in this post. 

Social media is cheap or free. 

Now this is quite tricky because it is true that so many social media sites are free. The same applies to a number of social media management tools but you must know that although they don’t cost money, they cost time (time is money). One way or the other, you’d have to pay for it. Think about the money you spend buying data in the first place. 

You can make a big splash really quickly. 

No you can’t. There are a few people who seem to ‘make it big’ quickly but it does not work that way for everyone. Don’t expect your blog or social media page to become a sensation from one minute to the next. It takes a lot of time and dedication to keeping your content fresh which is one of the things that attracts growth. 

You can’t build quality relationships online. 

This is not true. Many people have built quality relationships online. The Sparkle Writers Hub is a testament of this. Through our writing blog, we have successfully built relationships with writers, authors, book publishers amongst others. As long as you are ready to groom the relationship offline, then it is worth it. Business relationships can be built on social media; let no one tell you otherwise.

It gives away content and ideas you should be charging for. 

Simply put: The more you give, the more you receive on social media. You need to let go of the idea that all the content you produce is proprietary. Engage with your audience, and encourage them to share what you’ve created.

 

#WordOfTheDay – Meander is not a difficult word

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Hey Sparkle Writers, we are super excited to bring a new word to you this Wednesday. Before we continue, what did you do with last week’s word? Use it in a sentence if you haven’t done so already. 

Today’s word is meander. Wondering why we say it is not a difficult word? It’s because you have used its synonyms so many times. We just want you to get familiar with it too. 

Meander is pronounced /mɪˈandə/.

It could be used to describe a river or road following a winding course – zigzagwindtwistturncurvecurl. 

Meander could also mean to wander aimlessly or casually without urgent destination. In this case roam or ramble would be perfect synonyms. ‘

Here are a few examples;

My dog meanders round the street every night. 

The trail meanders through towering evergreens, over a river and beside a fountain. 

#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.

 

 

 

#GrammarSeries – Grammar myths you need to get rid of

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Hey Sparkle Writers! We know that as a writer you would have read and heard so many ‘grammar rules’ – the ones that are true and those that are untrue. 

Today we want to debunk a few of those myths. Whose ready to unlearn and relearn?

Here we go!

Myth 1

You shouldn’t start a sentence with the word “however.” 

Wrong! It’s fine to start a sentence with “however” so long as you use a comma after it when it means “nevertheless.” 

The comma is important because however is a conjunctive adverb that can be used in two different ways: it can join main clauses and it can modify a clause.

If you use however at the beginning of a sentence and don’t insert a comma, it would mean “in whatever manner,” “to whatever extent,” or “no matter how.”

Myth 2 

“Irregardless” is not a word. 

Wrong! “Irregardless” is a bad word and a word you shouldn’t use it, but it is a word. You shouldn’t use it if you want to be taken seriously, but it has gained wide enough use to qualify as a word. 

Myth 3

Passive voice is always wrong. 

Wrong! In passive voice, the subject of the sentence isn’t the person or the thing taking the action. In fact, in a passive voice sentence, the actor is often completely left out of the sentence. An example is “Mistakes were made,” because it doesn’t say who made the mistakes. Your writing is often stronger if you make your passive sentences active, but if you don’t know who is responsible for an action, passive voice can be the best choice. 

This is how to be a confident writer

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One of the reasons many writers have not started blossoming is because they are not confident about what they do. Hence, they can’t tell other people they write, they can’t pitch their skills to clients or contribute when other writers are talking.

Confidence we know is not achieved in one day but every writer who wants to grow and move to the next level of impact in this industry must be a confident writer.

Insecure writers cannot go far. Although many accomplished writers have at one point been insecure, they had to deal with it.

Here’s what you need you know about building your confidence as a writer. 

Know that most people are insecure but that shouldn’t stop you.

Although they do not show it, many people are also struggling with insecurities. So don’t let your mind trick you into believing that you are the only one and cause you to go into hiding. You should never hide your gift from the world that needs it so dearly. Insecurity should not stop you from doing the things you love. You can always improve. The more you do them, the better you become.

Do great work.

The better your work becomes, the better your confidence gets. How do you do great work? Keep writing, and keep sharing your work.  By writing consistently, you are training your writing muscles and when you share your work, you get relevant feedback. All these culminate in helping you to become a confident and secure writer. Lack of confidence robs you of the potential to be the writer that God created you to be and make the impact that you ought to make in the world.

Fake it till you make it.

Maybe like us you hated that phrase the first time you heard but before you make your conclusions read till the end.

This is what we mean.

We know you don’t feel so secure about your writing skill but please don’t let it reflect every time you write. Don’t post on social media and delete after few minutes. Even if you don’t feel confident, act like you are and we promise you, soon enough, that confidence will begin to grow. 

The greatest writers are not necessarily the most courageous people. They are simply people who felt afraid but chose to write and publish their books in spite of the fear.