This is why bloggers must be honest

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Blogging can be a very attractive activity. Just knowing that you have a tribe of people who love you and are loyal to you is enough. Most times bloggers tend to inflate the truth  or edit their reality just to make people interested. You want to pretend to be who you are not because other bloggers are doing it. 

Here’s a piece of advice. 

Stop faking it. Bloggers who are not honest will not last. You will not be able to keep up for a long time. Imagine having to always put up a picture with your face made up because you’ve made your readers believe that you are a beauty enthusiast when in fact you have days when you just want to walk around with your bare face. 

When you write, write honestly. Don’t try to fake another bloggers writing voice because you think that’s why he has so many readers. It won’t work. 

Readers sense fakes a mile away.

Most times you want to follow the trends, when they say there is a new style in your niche you immediately want to jump on it and even put your on twist to it.  After all blogging and trends have a lot in common. But you must be careful so you don’t loose yourself and essence in all the trends. 

Your readers love you, they want to see you don’t disappoint them. 

 

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#WriterSpotlight – “If you believe that this is what you are meant to do, stay the course.” Vivian Kay

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It’s Thursday and we have another exciting #WriterSpotlight interview for you. Today’s guest is Vivian Kay, author of two books. Apart from the great advice she gives, Vivian let’s us in on some secrets social media doesn’t know about her. You don’t need us to tell you that this is an interview to read!

Hello Vivian, please introduce yourself to us.

Vivian Kay is my pen name. I’m a Christian fiction writer, a mother, wife, and therapist living in Canada. When I’m not writing, I enjoy playing scrabble, dancing and snuggling up with a good book.

When did you start writing and how has your writing evolved over the years?

I started writing at the age of twelve. I now know the type of stories I want to tell. I have also gained confidence in my ability to tell them in a unique voice.

You are a faith writer, how easy is it to write based on this theme?

I think when you’re passionate about what you do, it’s more fun than work. I must say that it’s still hard work. But, as a faith writer, I also see this role as a ministry. I believe that anyone whom God calls to a task, He equips.

How rewarding has writing in this niche been?

Christian fiction is a niche market. Most Nigerian Christians only read non-fiction Christian books. The good thing is that impacting lives for God’s glory matters most to me. I’m happy when readers tell me how my stories have helped them in their faith walk.

Do you think you were born to be a writer?

On some days, I think so. I’ve always been fascinated by words. For some writing is a natural gift and like other gifts, it needs nurturing. That’s where the dedication, perseverance, and willingness to learn from others comes in.

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 You have written two books, which was the toughest for you to write?

I would say Secret Places because of the themes explored in the book. I wasn’t sure how people would respond to a story about Christians who were swapping their spouses.  

 How much did reading help shape your love for writing?

As an early reader, I fell in love with stories and their power to entertain and educate. To be a good writer, you should read across genres. My writing is stronger for it.  

What’s your take on the belief that ‘talk is cheap’?

I have a ‘let’s get things done’ personality so excessive talking about issues without a concrete action plan tires me.

Tell us two things social media doesn’t know about Vivian Kay?

Vivian loves straight forward people. She’s also an aspiring Karaoke queen.

How do you know that a story will be a hit or do you just write hoping that somebody will relate to it?

I just write the stories that come to me.

Tell us three ways social media has helped your writing career?

It has helped me connect with readers, other writers and brought professional opportunities my way.

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What do you love most about being an author?

It’s the moment when I hold my books for the first time. I get the “At Last” feeling.

What is your advice to other writers who want to merge their talent and faith together but don’t know how to start?

Pray and ask God for guidance. Some dreams need you to exercise faith. If you believe that this is what you are meant to do, stay the course and enjoy the process. 

Kindly give us information on where readers can get your books.

The purchase links for Secret Places and Knit Together are listed on this page on my author website 

I love to hear from my readers. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any question or comment.

You can connect with Vivian on her social media platforms; FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

 

 

#WordOfTheDay – You would not believe what this word means

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Hey Sparkle Writers! We are excited about today’s Word of the Day probably because we found the word a bit strange too. 

The word is eighty six. Strange right? You need to know what it means. 

Eighty six is a slang that means to refuse to serve (a customer) or to get rid of  something

We are sure you didn’t even see that coming. 

Let’s use this word in a few sentences 

The bar’s policy is that bartenders have both the authority and responsibility to eighty-six customers who disrupt other patrons.

Our new governor eighty- sixed previous government reforms and is starting afresh. 

Did you like learning about today’s word? We hope to see you here next week Wednesday! 

#GrammarSeries – Learn more about modal auxiliary verbs

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Hey Sparkle Writers and Grammar enthisiats. How has your grammar game been since our last grammar post? 

Well let’s get to today’s topic. What’s a modal auxiliary verb? Ever heard of it before or does it sound like big grammar to you? 

A modal auxiliary verb that is used to express: ability, possibility, permission or obligation. Modal phrases (or semi-modals) are used to express the same things as modals, but are a combination of auxiliary verbs and the preposition to. The modals and semi-modals in English are:

  1. Can/could/be able to
  2. May/might
  3. Shall/should
  4. Must/have to
  5. Will/would

You must have seen them before. Now let’s tell you what each modal is used for.

Modal Meaning Example
can to express ability He can speak a little Frnch.
can to request permission Can I open the window?
may to express possibility I may be home late.
may to request permission May I drive your car, please?
must to express obligation I must go now.
must to express strong belief She must be over 40 years old.
should to give advice You should change your shoes.
would to request or offer Would you like a bowl of icecream?
would in if-sentences

If you’ve been struggling to understand modal auxiliary verbs we hope this has helped. 

This is why you shouldn’t write and edit at the same time

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Have you ever tried to write a paragraph, rewrite it, read it again and found out it wasn’t capturing your idea perfectly so you edited once again?

How long did that last? Not so long most likely.

We bet you probably ended that writing session without achieving more than that paragraph. How long will you do that before you finish writing a short story? Maybe six months. 

Yes we said it, six months. 

When you try to write and edit at the same time, you’re doing TWO different activities.

The part of your brain that must write to get ideas out of your head and organise them — your internal writer — shies away from your inner editor.

The part of your brain that takes your first draft and turns it into something that shines — your internal editor — does his or her best work when you have a complete first draft.

Get the idea written down. Make sure you have emptied your heart out on paper. Then edit ruthlessly. You’d record more achievements. 

Trust us. 

This is why you should not set unrealistic publishing schedules

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Hey Blogger, 

How are you doing? We know that you have heard how important it is to publish posts frequently on your blog and as a result it is not strange for you to decide that you will henceforth publish a blog post everyday. 

How realistic is that though? Let’s think about it. Can you really post Monday to Sunday? Do you know how much work that would require? 

At first, you’re going to think that publishing every day won’t be tough at all – it will be tough and days will come when you will begin to slow down and get really overwhelmed. 

We are not saying you should not have a schedule at all. That isn’t good but you need to make sure that your plan is realistic and workable. 

When you publish too frequently (or infrequently), you create an unpredictable pattern that can frustrate your readers and cost you an audience.

Be honest with yourself and start small. Commit to publishing on a schedule that makes sense for your real life and other obligations. Space out your posts (don’t publish five all at once!) so that you have a steady stream of content to keep people coming back.

Does that sound okay to you? We hope it does. 

#WriterSpotlight – “You would never improve if you want to stay in your cocoon of safety.” Unyime Ivy King

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We read Unyime Ivy King’s interview and we were blown away by the amount of depth one person can offer. If you are looking to publish a book soon her advice on publishing and distributing your books will come in handy. 

Sparkle Writers, enjoy Unyime’s insightful interview with us.

Hello Unyime please introduce yourself.

I am a passionate God lover and an anointed scribe who sees my writing as an important calling and a ministry which enables me to  function as an influencer and change agent in my society. I am author and publisher, wife of one husband and mother of four. I am a passionate advocate for a return to positive family values using the social media platform actively to express my  passion and beliefs, because I believe that the family is an important unit of society which helps to transmit culture between generations, and that stable societies, emerge from strong, stable and positive family experiences. I do not only write for leisure, I see it as a calling to serve. 

I also am the MD of HTT Communications, a communications/publishing firm and ED Communications at Protection Plus Services Ltd, the parent company which is co-owned by my husband and me. Recently, I unveiled my not for profit organisation- SOW&G (The Save Our Women and Girls Foundation), which is poised to provide mentorship for women and girls, support credible NGOs and train women and girls in the area of skills acquisition. This we had started informally last year, before the inauguration. We were able to train over 110 women in 5 different skills areas, hence empowering them to be economically viable and productive citizens of their society. We are planning a second and third editions of that training. These are my areas of passion. I happen to be a UN Volunteer on the platform of the International Association of World Peace Advocates (IAWPA) and also an ambassador of the Nigerian Army School of Public Relations (NASPRI).

How long have you been writing for and what have you learnt in these years?  

I started writing as a young girl in primary school. My siblings and I were exposed to books really early in life and the interest caught on. Sadly enough the many stories I wrote on countless notepad were never published until my novel, Burning Hurt was published first by AuthorHouse UK in 2013 and I published a West African edition in 2014.  

One powerful thing I have learnt is that you get better at writing by writing. You can read others and learn, but your style is unique to you and your writing  voice, if you dare to use it, should be recognizable. It’s a function of consistency and exercise. 

What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

I will never forget an incident that happened one holiday when I was a child in the primary school or elementary school as it was called. We had this dear uncle, my father’s older brother (he’s late now), at whose house we spent a lot of time. One day, his oldest son who was studying law at the time, and also happens to be my oldest paternal cousin, asked us all to gather for a mini concert. We had cousins who had come into Calabar from Lagos, including my siblings too. My cousin gave us different writing assignments and he would read each person’s write up out and grade. When he began to read my own, he paused and shook his head, and kept saying, “Unyime Ikpe” (my maiden name) and kept shaking his head, while commending my writing. That is one memory I have kept and cherished long after I have forgotten what topic I wrote about, because it warms my heart, just remembering. 

It sort of opened my eyes to the realization that I could write, and that words have power. I saw the effect of what I’d written on the people gathered there. That spurred me on. 

Where do you get inspiration from?

I get inspired by everything, especially intelligent conversations with others, and the things happening around me in society. Because my interest is more about issues that have to do with family, any family related incident is a trigger for me – family relationship dynamics, relationships generally, family values etc. Any experience or encounter could trigger an urge to write. For instance, a failed relationship story a friend shared with me while I was serving, provided the inspiration for my novel and the other books I’m working on, are motivated by family stories and life issues generally. 

 

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You are the author of ‘Burning hurt’. What inspired you to write this book?

Burning Hurt was inspired by the need to show the cause and effect of sowing wild oats – especially by the men – and also highlight the problems that arise from dysfunctional family relationships. The family is a miniature society and when it malfunctions, society malfunctions too. I wanted the story of Burning Hurt to capture the fact that for every action we take or every choice we make, there is a corresponding consequence or consequences. 

What salient lessons did publishing a book (especially in Nigeria) teach you ?

I learnt that one really has to be prepared to work extra hard because the distribution channels for marketing one’s book are really not there and as an author you need to push your work or nobody will do it for you. 

Putting one’s book in a bookshop does not really work because it’s a very slow process. But you just have to do it for the physical presence. Direct sales is a better method for marketing and of course, leveraging on the free social media platforms as much as possible. 

Apart from writing, what are your other hobbies?

I love to experiment with dishes, watch good movies (I love thrillers and epic movies), travel. 

Some write for fortune, others for fame, why do you write?

I write because I see my writing as a personal ministry to my society. I want to use my words to influence my world positively, one person per time. If in the process of doing that, fame and fortune come, I’d gladly embrace them because I have some understanding that keeps me firmly grounded. I do not get carried away. 

Another lesson is that you have to monitor the whole process 100% if you do not want to see errors that would make your skin crawl. Sometimes you put in your best to push the process, but the final product may end up a disappointment. It’s tedious, really. 

What is your ultimate dream as a writer?

My ultimate dream is to spread the influence of my writing beyond the shores of this country such that my words are not only affecting people in my country, but also reaches across borders to affect someone who needs to read me. I also want to know that at the end of my life, I said all I was supposed to say. 

 

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How has your writing evolved over the years, did you do anything specific to make improvements? 

When I look at some of the things I wrote many years back, which I was praised for, to the things I write now, I realize that I have come a long way. Reading is a childhood love, which I still hold on to, and one way that has helped my writing improve. 

I read good books by established and credible writers especially the works of veterans like Chinua Achebe, Ngugi Wa Thiongo, Flora Nwapa and of course contemporary writers like Chimamanda Adichie. I do my best to read articles and on social media follow handles that share things about good writing or what makes a good writer. I use Google well as a study tool too. 

Asides that, I registered for some programs at the School of Media and Communication of the Pan Atlantic University, Lagos, called Media Enterprises (CME) and Advanced Writing and reporting skills (AWARES). Part of the course module involved creative writing and this helped me a lot. I still plan to go back to do more programs that would help with my writing. 

Do you Google yourself? Please tell us why

I do because I want to see what kind of digital prints I have left and also to see what the progress has been over time. I don’t compare myself with anyone because the Bible, which is my manual for life, makes me understand that it’s unwise to do so. Instead I compare myself with my purpose. When I Google me, I can see a trail of what I have done and also see how I can keep getting better at being me. 

What’s your advice to writers who have not shared their work with the world because they are scared of what people will say?

I would repeat the words of a very wise man, who happens to be my husband, “The only way to get out of trouble, is to enter it.” 

I would advise them, “Do not be scared to share because someone out there needs that information you are hoarding.”  You would never improve if you want to stay in your cocoon of safety. Talk to a writer you admire, who is doing what you wish you could and get counsel, get mentorship. Even if they are not within reach, buy their books and read their thoughts, read articles they’ve shared and so on. There’s so much potential in you. Bin the fear and step into the waters with both feet. You will figure a way out if it looks like you are drowning. If you never dare to try, you’d never know how far you can go, or what you are capable of doing. 

 

#WordOfTheDay – Learn what smattering means

Hey Sparkle Writers, it’s time for #WordOfTheDay and the word we’re focusing on today is smattering

This word means  slight, superficial, or introductory knowledge of something. 

Have you ever heard this before? Well there you go.

Here are some words that are similar in meaning to this word: Amount, basics, bit, elements, small , little, rudiments, touch. 

Here are a few examples of how to use it in a sentence. 

I have a smattering knowledge of Latin

The architect has just a smattering knowledge of Technical Design. 

We hope you can use these words in sentences from now on. 

 

Can calendar be used as a verb?

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Sparkle Writers! It’s Tuesday and time for our #GrammarSeries. Who is excited? 

We saw this on Grammar Girl and we knew we just had to talk about it. 

Have you ever imagined calendar as a verb and not just a noun? It will look like this; 

I calendared the wedding dates for the month. 

Do you know our spell check didn’t even see anything wrong with this statement? 

Calendar as a verb goes all the way back to the 1400s, although back then it meant to record something or register it in a list, which makes sense because the word calendar comes from the Latin word calendarium, which means “account book.”

Today, the Merriam-Webster online dictionary has it listed as a verb with an example from the New York Law Journal, and it’s also listed as a verb in dictionary.com and the online American Heritage Dictionary. There isn’t  a dictionary that didn’t include calendar as a verb. 

This is what Grammar Girl had to say. 

“Calendaring things is common in the legal profession and in some business settings, and now it’s seeping into more general use.”

 

Sparkle Writers, this is your opportunity to become a paid critic.

 

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Hey Sparkle Writers, the maiden edition of The Critic Challenge 2017 is here!The challenge is an annual call for critics that aims to bridge this divide and discover talented critical writers in order to set a standard for the cultural and creative industry in Africa.

The subject of critiquing has been neglected for a long time in the cultural economics in Africa. Whereas there is proven influence of published critical judgments on consumption levels, increase in cultural demand and a significant positive effect on revenues accrued in international scenes.

Wondering how you can participate? 

  • Select a preferred category from either films, music or books 
  • Choose 2 out of the 5 subjects in your preferred category to critique.
  • Send in your reviews of not more than 850 words. See submission details HERE.
  • Entries will be judged based on the following criteria;
  • Clarity with regards to understanding the universe of the subjects.
  • Constructive criticism with regards to social political, cultural and economic discourse of the subjects.
  • Originality. Plagiarized entries would be disqualified.
  • Accuracy of language, historical references and facts.
  • Narrative flow.
  • Relevance of thematic expressions.

Please note that submission of entries closes at 12 midnight on May 15th 2017.

What’s more fun? Top 10 entries from each category would be selected by our judges and published on the CREETIQ website and users would be able to vote their favorite entry.

Remember that there are cash prizes to be won so take this very seriously. 

For more information visit the CREETIQ website