The top four questions on blogging and their answers!

Whether you are a new or experienced blogger, you would agree with us that there is always something new to learn about blogging. Today, we’ve collated some burning questions you might need answers to.

What are the benefits of or best reasons for blogging?

A: Too many to fully name, but just to get you started, you’ll:

  • Be able to express yourself, and share what you know and think with the world.
  • Interact with smart and interesting people around the world.
  • Learn a tremendous amount about yourself.
  • Learn a lot about anything you’re interested in.
  • Perhaps make a career out of it.

How do I get my first readers?

You’ve written a few posts but no one even knows you exist. You’ll need to connect with others, somehow, to share your posts with them. Social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, along with email, and commenting on other blogs (but not spamming them with lots of links to your posts) are great ways to connect with others and share the best of what you have on your blog. As you connect with more people, they’ll naturally start checking out your blog.

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How do I get more readers or subscribers?

OK, you have a few readers, but you want more. Hundreds upon hundreds, thousands and thousands! Well, take it easy. Blogs don’t just explode overnight.

The best answer is just to provide useful and/or really interesting content on a regular basis — daily, weekly, or somewhere in between. As you continue to provide amazing content, your readers will share what you have, and others will start to find you. It’s slow growth, but better than spamming people.

What’s the most important blogging question I’m not asking?

You should be asking, “How can I most help my reader?” Bloggers get caught up in technical things, like blog platforms and widgets and themes and plugins…or in numbers, like visitors and page views and subscribers and comments and ad revenues but this is the wrong mindset.

Focus instead on how you can help people. Make your reader the center of your blog, and find ways to help your reader succeed (at whatever you’re teaching). The rest — stats and money and all that — will come later.

 

These questions have been curated from WriteToDone 

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#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.

 

 

#WritingQuote – “Your attitude is everything. Believe in yourself and trust your material.” Bud Gardner

“Your attitude is everything. Believe in yourself and trust your material. To be a successful writer, write every single day whether you feel like it or not. Never, never give up, and the world will reward you beyond your wildest dreams.” Bud Garnder

Can we just say that we absolutely love this quote by Bud Gardner. It mirrors one of the key messages we share at The Sparkle Writers Hub. 

You need to believe in yourself and your material. You might have the greatest writing talent but if you lack confidence and faith in yourself, we’re sorry to tell you that you won’t go very far. Someone with less writing talent but more faith and confidence will definitely achieve much more. 

To a very large extent, writing is personal. So it truly does hurt when people poke holes at your work and criticize you. We understand but that’s not a reason for you to fold up and give up. You must gather the courage to keep going even when you are heavily criticized. 

Write every day. There are no shortcuts to success in this game. Keep improving yourself. Read books. Put your work out there and most importantly, trust your material. 

 

WordOfTheDay – Learn what highbinder means

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There are some words you hear and you wonder who thought of them. Today’s word is one of those. Our word for today is “highbinder.

The word is pronounced (HY-byn-duhr).

It is a noun used to mean a swindler, gangster, or a corrupt politician. It’s that simple. 

Examples:

Nigerians politicians have often been described by the media as highbinders.

She cried when she realized that she had just had an encounter with an highbinder.

Highbinders are prominent personalities on the streets of computer village, Ikeja.

 

 

#PickOfTheWeek – Not seeking validation

 

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Hey Sparkle Writers, welcome to another #PickOfTheWeek segment.  Writers are truly amazing people and the level of wisdom potryed in the posts are encouraging. Today we have four amazing writers. 

Let us know what post you loved most. 

farmto table How many of us agree that no matter how negative the comments we recive are, we should not at any time let them get to us. This may be hard but if we can make up our mind that no amtter the negativity we’d continue we will realize that they will in the end celebrate us.  farmto table (1) Do you know why we love this post? Because we know for a fact that it is true. Many of us sometimes get confused on what is and is not good for us and the truth is that sometimes the person you want does not deserve you.  Thank you Elo Osiki for the reminder. 

 

farmto table (3) How easy is it to point accusing fingers at others when we are also doing the same thing or maybe even worse. Thank you Kolade Afolabi for the reminder. 

farmto table (4).png Henrietta is a new writer on our   PickOfTheWeek segment and this post is everything! We cannot give what we don’t have .  Before you can become the one to someone else you must the the one to yourself. You must see yourself as important and valuable 

#GrammarSeries – The purpose of parallelism

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Parallelism in grammar occurs when there is a similarity of structures used in sentence construction. The usage of parallelism in your writing makes the information you are presenting easier to process for your readers. 

Inappropriate parallelism, on the other hand, disturbs the flow of thoughts when reading a piece of writing.

When two or more parts of a sentence are similar in meaning but different in form, a faulty parallelism can be said to have occurred.

Let us take a look at the following examples;

Ali is swimming, driving, running and to dance.

The above sentence sounds odd, doesn’t it? Now check out the sentence below.

Ali is swimming, eating, running and dancing.

The above sentence sounds a whole lot better, doesn’t it? Now, here is what happened.

In the first sentence, the verbs are all in the present continuous form except the last one ‘to dance’ which is in the infinitive form while the verbs in the second sentence are all in the present continuous form.

Be mindful of this when you write.

How to write when you don’t feel like

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Let’s be honest, there will be times you won’t feel like writing. You’ll be tempted to do every other thing except to write. Sometimes, you may not be in the mood for days or even weeks. You just can’t explain why don’t ‘feel like’ writing. Somehow, inspiration seems to have taken a long hike and you’re not sure when it’s going to return. 

Well, if you intend to be a good writer, one who is known to make impact, you need to know how to write whether you are in the mood or not. The best writers are those who are able to master how to write in ll seasons; whether they are in the mood or not. 

We want you to be one of the best writers the world has ever known. Here are some tips that will help you to write even if you are not in the mood. 

Allow Yourself to Write Crap

Yes, you read correctly! Allow yourself to write crap. Sometimes, the reason you don’t feel like writing is because you feel what you will produce will not be good enough. “So why write it,” you wonder. Other times, you don’t write because you over think things; How should I start? Will the story be interesting enough? Will people want to read it?

You need to stop over-analyzing and write. Ignore those voices that keep telling you that what you want to write will not be good enough. Who said so? You never know how good what you have to write is until you finish. And even if it is not as good as you want it, you can always edit and fix it! 

It is possible for you to start writing and the first few paragraphs won’t make sense to you. Instead of getting frustrated, just keep going on. The victory is in the process. Finish, review and learn where you need to review.

Motivate yourself 

If you say you are not in the mood and you know that you definitely need to write then do the needful and motivate yourself. What puts you in a good mood? What gets you excited? Note them and do those things.

You may need to take a walk, listen to music to motivate yourself. The best motivation however is thinking about the number of lives what you want to write will bless. Your message should motivate you. Your purpose should stir you to write.

Even if like this man you have to search for motivation;

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Don’t stop until you find it😌

Eliminate every form of distraction and time yourself

It is bad enough that you do not feel like writing, the last thing you should do is to allow distractions. Your children are running around the house, the TV is on and you’ve been surfing the internet for almost an hour. Why will you feel like writing?

Find someone to stay with your children, leave the house, go for a power walk and go back home to write or look for a park, co-working space where you can have some peace and quiet and write. Distractions are not good for anyone much less a writer.

What are some of the ways you get yourself to write when you are not in the mood. Do share!

Seven blogging tools for bloggers with zero graphic design skills

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Isn’t it amazing how you do not have to be an expert graphics designer before you can design an image that would truly capture what your blog post is about? We think it is!

There are image creating tools that are easy to use, easy to navigate and produce high quality images all at the same time. Rather than resort to downloading images from stock photos that may not really capture the line of thought in your posts, you could actually be doing the design yourself without the help of a graphics designer.

You need to check these tools out. They are awesome resources for bloggers.

  • Canva – Apart from the exciting fact that this tool is free (to an extent), Canva is a surefire way of pretending like you have awesome graphics design skills as a blogger. Once you select your image dimension, you can pick from a blank canvas or preset design template, and quickly customize the graphic. There is an extensive library of free options to choose from.

  • Ribbet – Even though this tool has not been around for so long, it is gradually gaining some level of recognition. The degree of simplicity attached to the usage of this tool is simply unbelievable. It is a platform for simple photo editing and collage creation. With this tool, you can customize images for your blog posts without limits. All you need to do is drag and drop your photos into the pre-set collage templates.

  • Quotescover – You can tell the function of this tool from its name. If you are a blogger with an uncanny ability for churning out witty quotes, this is the tool for you. It is really simple. Add your own text or choose from their extensive library of quotes, pick an image and font, and publish. That is all!

  • Smushit – This is one tool that really does a good job of ‘smushing’ pictures with large file sizes. This tool helps to reduce the file size of images preventing your blog from loading pages on time. It would literally increase your blog’s page-load times.  The best part of this tool is that the quality of your pictures does not reduce with the file size. It remains intact.

  • Google Drawings – This is one fun tool for bloggers who love to have fun. All you need to do is upload an image, label it and add a few fun shapes. With that, you would have created a .png image with a transparent background. All you need to access this tool is a Google account and then you are good to go.

Some of us may never learn how to use Photoshop but we still would need to design a thing or two right?

#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.

 

#WordOfTheDay – This is what idyllic means

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Our word for today is…‘Idyllic’

It is pronounced as [ahy-dil-ik].

It is an adjective meaning extremely happy, peaceful, or picturesque.

The synonyms of the word are wonderful, peaceful, perfect, ideal.

Examples:

The idyllic setting had a therapeutic effect on her health.

The ranch owned by Mr. Laser is idyllic.