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

 

IMG-20171110-WA0015

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! 

Advertisements

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

IMG_20180205_093656.jpg

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.

abiola aa chataris BOOK COVER

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

Josh Olanrewaju

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

Hello Joshua, kindly introduce yourself.

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

When and why did you start writing?

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

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

What do you love about writing?

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

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

Josh hello goodbye

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.

docs

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.

atoke 1

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.

atoke 5

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)?

OP11803-400x600-300x300

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.

atoke 3

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.

 

Here are three reasons you should write what you think!

Medieval (2)

At The Sparkle Writers Hub we have been coaching writers for a while and one of the most recurrent problems many writers face is the fear of writing what they truly feel, getting rejected because of what they wrote or being seen in a particular light.

So what do they do?

They hide, refuse to write again or clone another writer to be accepted. All of these are wrong. A writer should never hide his work and no matter how brutally honest you would be, somebody out there can handle it.

Here are a few more reasons why you should write what you think.

You’re not saying anything valuable when you pretend

Trying too hard to play safe only makes your work vague and void of depth. Say what you need to say, how you need to say it. Nobody is going to love that work if it isn’t valuable and soon, you’d fade out as a writer so it’s better you stop it now.

It’s boring

When you actually have a strong opinion about a particular subject and for some strange reason do all within your power to edit, cut and cut, you will most likely end up with something drab and uninteresting. Staying neutral to avoid offending anyone will result in words without substance.

It’s painfully obvious that you’re not being authentic

The more you try to cover up your lack of authenticity, the more obvious it becomes and most likely the more readers you will lose. People smell fake and restrictions from afar off and would leave. It’s best to avoid it. 

#WritingQuote – “When your story is ready for rewrite, cut it to the bone.” Stephen King

Medieval (2).jpg

“When your story is ready for rewrite, cut it to the bone. Get rid of every ounce of excess fat. This is going to hurt; revising a story down to the bare essentials is always a little like murdering children, but it must be done.”
—Stephen King. 

What makes a story or an article so powerful? The fact that it resonates with readers.

The next question would then be how can my story resonate with my readers.

The answer is by writing your truth. 

Once you’ve written down your truth consider that your first draft and this is by no means a way of saying your story is ready for publishing. All you’ve done is the ground work.

The next task is editing that work to make sure it hits the right notes and strikes the right chord. 

Stephen King advises that you cut it to the bone. Why? It is because you don’t want to put words. phrases, punctuation marks that would distract your reader from the essence of the work. 

Editing your work may not be easy because it could feel like you’re hurting your child, something you created, but you have to remember that it is  necessary and must be done. 

#PickOfTheWeek- Life is not always what you expect

Medieval

Hey Sparkle Writers! It is another Tuesday morning and we have four amazing writers to feature.  Are you ready? 

farmto table (2)

The first post questions the status quo. Many times love is painted in a certain way and attached to certain feelings. What if we never experience love , what if the hurt from past relationships is too much to bear? Thank you Hannah for this beautiful piece. 

 

farmto table (1)This post is everything! Loving yourself is undoubtedly one of the most important attributes and when you need to walk away from toxic situations please do without looking back farmto table Time is truly powerful! Sometimes it is the distance between what we want and what is happening now. All we can do is to wait for it to run its course. 

farmto table (4) We laughed the first time we saw this! Unexpected but is definitely a possibility. How would you react if someone told you that all these while they’d been lying to you? 

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

IMG_20171229_162751.jpg

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.

IMG-20171230-WA0002

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.

IMG_20171225_230148_375

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.

 

 

 

#PickOfTheWeek – Go for it

Medieval (3).png

Hey there Sparkle Writers! Who’s ready for our #PickOfTheWeek?  Four amazing pieces will be featured again. 

Yetunde has been on our #WriterSpotlight and we learnt a lot so you can tell that featuring her today is going to be pretty inspiring. She said something pretty simple but direct. If you want something then go for it! That’s how it works. 

 

 

farmto table (1)Kintola sure brought her A-game on with this post. Like why do we have to wait for people to celebrate an validate us before we feel good about yourself and work? Give yourself a standing ovation and continue. farmto table (2)We’d give you one reason why we love this particular piece even though there are many reasons. We strongly believe you don’t need anyone to complete you. Zafeerah outlined this properly.farmto table (3) Sometimes you beat yourself  up over the little mistakes you make but the point is you’re still making progress.  Some others aren’t even making effort. You are definitely on the right path just don’t stop. farmto table

4 reasons why no one is paying you to write

Disclaimer –  This post is NOT for everyone. Some people have chosen to write for passion and are not interested in financial rewards and that’s okay. But if you are one of those people who want to make your writing a career, this is for you. 

Although writing may not look like the most financially profitable careers, a good number of writers have found their sweet spot and are able to monetize their skill. These writers have given their sweat, blood and money to get to this point. 

You may already be asking ‘sweat and blood’, is it that deep? Yes it is, because with writing and every other thing you want to make money from, you’ve got to be intentional. Don’t expect someone to come and say, “Hey there. I heard from someone that you were thinking of writing something and I’d love to pay you to see where that could lead to someday.”

That would be nice but it really wouldn’t happen. 

If you think you’ve tried everything and you’re not getting money, we’d tell you four reasons you probably have not heard before or ignored which may explain why you are not being paid to write. 

You haven’t become an authority in the field. 

Yes, you need to become an authority is certain fields of writing. It’s ok to be a Jack of all Trades but it is much better (and profitable) to be a Master of Some.

Which areas of writing interest you?

Which can you master and become an expert in?

Then can you begin to share content around those areas so people begin to see you as an authority in that field?

If someone Googles ‘Top editors in Lagos’ for example and you are a good Editor in Lagos, your goal is to ensure that your name appears on that list.

Also, when people ask for good content writers from people in your network, they should be able to remember you without having to think too much. That is what Brand Gurus call top of mind awareness! 

You’re wallowing in negative thoughts 

All these your;

‘I am not good enough’

‘This writer is better than me’ and 

‘I can’t’ thoughts would do you NO good. These statements kill your dream, weaken your spirit and if you are not careful, they will affect your entire morale. How will you write well when you are not feeling good about yourself? 

When you are beginning to think you are not good enough, counter that thought by speaking confidently and positively;

‘I am good enough’

‘I improve my writing skills daily’ 

‘I can and I will.’ 

Now go ahead and make things happen

You’re stuck with old knowledge

Any writer who wants to make money from writing and has refused to upgrade his skills and knowledge has not started.  Writing is an ever involving industry and only those who are able to keep up with trends and new developments can remain relevant to clients. For example, if your client wants you to update their blog with content and you don’t know how to edit pictures with basic editing tools, your post obviously will not reach its maximum potential because the picture was not properly edited. 

You have to write often; stay abreast of what’s happening in the writing world and understand multimedia and social media. Today’s writer must be tech savvy 

You’re thinking like a writer and not a business person

FREE

If you want to make money from writing, you have to think of your writing as a business not just a hobby . Generally speaking, most creative people like to create. Period.

Writers like to write, painters like to paint, and musicians want to play. However, until we attach a value – specifically, a Dollar (better than a Naira) value to our expertise – we will continue to be starving artists.

We are not saying you should go about demanding payment from everyone including Instagram for writing captions; all we are saying is that if you’ve chosen to make writing a business, some things have to be put into perspective. 

There are five things to consider when assessing value:

  • The services you are going to offer
  • To whom you will offer your services
  • Your experience
  • The value of your time
  • The value you provide to your customers.

 

Ultimately, the answers to these questions will become the foundation of your business plan, which is your roadmap to becoming a well-paid writer.