#WordOfTheDay – This is what ‘Chicanery’ means

It’s time to learn a new word on The Sparkle Writers Hub!

Today’s word has a very interesting meaning and the word is ‘Chicanery’.

Pronounced \-ˈkān-rē, -ˈkā-nə-\, Chicanery means clever, dishonest talk or behaviour that is used to deceive people.

Here’s how to use it in a sentence;

  1. He wasn’t above using chicanery to win votes.

  2. That candidate only won the election through chicanery

Pretty easy right? Try using it in a sentence today. 

#GrammarSeries – Never say ”The reason why.”

This error is so common that it no longer sounds like an error. But, it is!

You may ask what is wrong with saying ”The reason why”. Well, that’s pretty simple – REDUNDANCY!

The word ”why” is a special pronoun that expresses reason. Therefore, saying ”the reason why” is as good as repeating ”reason”. In addition, the pronoun ”why” usually introduces an adverbial clause or phrase, not a noun/nominal phrase. Hence, it cannot serve as the subject of the sentence.

So, instead of saying:

“The reason why she came was to borrow a book.”

Simply say:

“She came to borrow a book.”

“She came because she wanted to borrow a book.”

See you next week! 

 

Get started as a freelance writer with these tips

One of the greatest joys of being a freelance writer is getting rewarded for your skill. We are referring to financial reward. At a time where many people call themselves writers, what are the odds that you will get good paying freelancing projects?

Well. the odds are not that slim. You however need to take some steps to make it easier for you to attract those kind of opportunities that will make you smile to the bank. 

Here are some tips which we know you will find useful. 

Define Your Niche and Target Audience 

You cannot be a jack of all trades when it comes to freelance writing. You need to have a specialty. Will it be fashion? Lifestyle? Politics? Or Inspiration? You decide. 

Make your choice based an area you are good at or you can easily adapt to. Don’t limit yourself to areas you love. Think a little bit wider. 

Once you have chosen your niche, identify who your potential clients will be. If you want to specialize in tech, you may want to list out all the tech companies available and begin to do your research. Keep your ears open for opportunities to do freelance writing jobs with those companies. If you are bold enough you can even pitch your services to them.

Create a Website or Blog

How will potential clients find you? How will they assess if you are indeed able to deliver. A website or a blog will address this. 

You can begin by building a simple WordPress website or blog. Once you’ve done this, post some freelancing work you have done. Don’t forget to include a list of the services you offer, testimonials from previous clients if you have any (It’s always a good idea to get testimonials from those you write for) and of course, your contact details. 

We love the way Ebun Oluwole showcases her work on her personal website. 

Publicize what you do 

Yes, we know you are a writer but if no one knows what you do how will you make money from your writing skills? You must begin to see your freelance writing as a business and to attract high paying clients, you have to do some marketing. There’s no other way around it. 

Make the most of social media. Have a great bio. Across all the social media platforms, let it be clear that you offer freelance writing services. Promote your work on social media; both organically and through paid ads. You can do this with as little as $5. 

You also need to interact and do some social listening. Twitter is great for this. People are always looking for who can offer one service or the other. Another great platform for you to market for yourself is LinkedIn. If you do not have a LinkedIn profile, we advice that you create one. You will come across several useful clients and opportunities there. 

The last thing we will suggest is for your to become visible on Google. Aside from writing blog posts on your website, feature on other websites through guest blogging and contributions. This will improve your Google ranking when your name is searched for. Always make sure your bio reflects that you are a freelance writer when you contribute to these sites. 

Don’t forget that making the money you want from your writing skill will take some time and hard work. You cannot afford to leave anything to chance. 

 

5 Storytelling Mistakes You Must Avoid as a Blogger

Blogging is fun. It requires you to share a story with your readers. This story could be about your experience, thoughts or events happening around you.

If you want your readers to keep flocking to your blog, you need to master the art of storytelling. Bloggers are story tellers. Didn’t you know that? Well, now you do and today we have some storytelling mistakes that you must avoid so that your readers can have the best experience when they visit your blog. 

Writing the stories you want to read. 

Yes, we know it’s your blog but if you keep writing only the stories you want to read, you will alienate your readers. You must be wondering, ‘Doesn’t this conflict with the advice to write from my heart and write the things I am passionate about?’ No it doesn’t.

While you are free to choose the theme you want to write on, you must write your story in a way that will be interesting to your audience. It’s not just about the story but how you tell it.

Forcing yourself to sound like a storyteller.

Authenticity is key when it comes to storytelling. When you tell yourself that you must sound like a storyteller, you can be assured that you are doing it wrong. Don’t force the story neither should you try to fake it. Authenticity goes a long way in telling stories effectively.

One tip we can give is for you to make your story as real as possible. You can use real people and real events to achieve this. 

Prolonging the story beyond what is necessary

Storytelling doesn’t mean you have to write an epistle. This is not a series or a book. It is a blog. Make your story short, sweet and simple. When a story drags on, it may get boring and you don’t want your readers to be bored right?

If you want to write a long story, consider breaking it into parts and let your readers anticipate the next installment. 

Starting in a boring way

The story may be great but if the opening sentences are boring, you may have wasted a good story. Your readers may not get to the end or read the interesting parts of the story.

Sometimes, the best place to start a story isn’t right at the beginning. Come up with creative ways to start your story. This is will make your readers eager to read more. 

Not having a main point of focus

What’s the point of writing a pointless story? You would have wasted both your time and energy. Let your story have a key message; something your readers will take away at the end. Even if the story is just to make your readers smile, write in a way that you will allow you to easily achieve this purpose. The last thing you want is for your reader to get to the end of your story and say, “What did I just read?” 

Always bear in mind that honing your storytelling skills comes with practice and the content you consume. Visit blogs where the owner tells beautiful stories. It will rub off on your own storytelling skills. 

 

#WriterSpotlight – “Nigerians read, but the writers need to work on getting their art across.” Ijeoma Ucheibe

Hey Sparkle Writers! It’s time for another #WriterSpotlight. Today we have Ijeoma Ucheibe, popularly known as Bagus Mutendi. She is a literary critic and she has some great advice for writers who want to publish books and write stories.

You’ll definitely enjoy this one!

Hello Ijeoma. Can you please tell us a bit about yourself?

Ijeoma was born in Kano. She speaks Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba, a smattering of French, German and bad Spanish. She is also a corporate commercial lawyer who writes academic papers from time to time. She also runs a literary blog called Bagus Mutendi where she talks about literature and the arts with a focus on Africa. She’s also the publicist for the hugely popular #BookOnReview show which talks about African Literature and airs on Classic FM 97.3 (a prestigious radio station) every Saturday 9pm. She also talks books on Nigerian Info FM, Lagos on the #TheBookClub with Katherine Obiang (On-Air Personality, Nigerian Info FM/ Actress) and Abigail Anaba (author, Sector IV) on Thursdays 9.30 pm.

You’re known by the name Bagus Mutendi. What does that name mean?

It’s a childhood nickname I grew up with. It’s a mashup of Indonesian & Zimbabwe names and simply means precious warrior.

Have you always known that you will be a literary critic?

It wasn’t so obvious in the very early years, but as I negotiated through puberty, I knew that it would not be enough to just read books. I began to feel that I should have something to say about these books. As you grow older, your opinions about the things you feed your eyes on begin to expand, your tastes evolve, and where you feel something should have been written better, or not written at all, you find it hard keeping that feeling to yourself.

Can you tell us some of the best books you’ve ever read or critiqued?

This is a really difficult situation to be in, I’ll take books over chocolate any day, but since you asked, I’ll say; Dick Francis’ “Shattered”, Noviolet Bulawayo’s “We need New Names”, H. Rider-Haggard’s “King Solomon’s Mines.”

As a blogger who focuses mainly on the literary arts, can you tell us how you started on this journey?

This journey has been in my head for over 5 years but procrastination has always gotten in the way till March 2016 when I decided to get serious about it.

In recent times, we have seen a rise in African authors who are coming up with quality content for the African audience. What will you say is responsible for this development?

Over time, our narratives have evolved. The themes have changed, it’s not just about war and poverty anymore. The stories that millennials have to tell are different from those of older generations, and this helps for diversity in narration. There has been a proliferation in number of writers over the years, and the dense population of creatives in Africa has led to an increase in the quality. With more competition, you have no choice but to churn out a good story if you do not want to get swallowed up.

As a literary critic, what are the things you look out for in a book for it to qualify as a good book in your eyes?

For me, I look at the originality of the theme. Novelty appeals to me, and since I usually find my nose buried in lots and lots of books, the writing should either tackle a new theme, or offer a fresh perspective to an old theme before I can say I’m impressed. Beyond that, I can’t get past the first hint of a cliché. The African continent is overripe with an abundance of narratives, so I don’t see the need to waste my time on over-flogged storylines.

What will you say is the biggest challenge the writers and authors face in the country?

There are a number of prevalent challenges, but for me, the biggest challenge to surmount is locating a vibrant and active target audience. Much is made about the fact that “we don’t read”. In my opinion, Nigerians read, but the writers need to work on getting their art across.

What are some of the pitfalls writers need to avoid on their journey to becoming published?

Writers should eschew shoddy storytelling and editing as much as possible. No publisher wants to have anything to do with a creative who cannot properly put his work together. Again, writers should avoid being unnecessarily selective when it comes to the desired platforms on which they want to be published. Yes, some platforms come with bigger reputations, but what is most important is that your craft is out there.

The state of the publishing industry leaves a lot to be desired and many writers are opting to be self-published. What do you think can be done to change this narrative?

There needs to be a lot more sensitization on the relevance of publishing houses. Then again, publishing houses should make their deals and conditions more flexible. Sure enough, the economy is volatile, but Art should not always be sacrificed on the altar of convenience. It would also be helpful if publishers engage the services of scouts or agents, who would go out there and sniff around for good literature. That way, Talent meets Opportunity, because for the most part, that’s the major drawback; poor marketing!

What advice will you give to any writer who wants to become a bestselling author?

My words are few, but I hope they resonate: Keep pushing, strive to get your voice heard, speak even if no one appears to listen.

Should we expect a book from you in the nearest future?

Well, you never say never. Fingers crossed.

 

If you know any writer who you feel should be featured on our #WriterSpotlight segment or you are that writer, please send an email to thesparklewritershub@gmail.com. 

#WordOfTheDay – This is what ‘Abstruse’ means

Hey Sparkle Writers! Are you ready to learn a new word?

The word we’ll teach you today is ‘Abstruse’. 

Abstrus has its origin from the Latin word abstrusus which means ‘put away, hidden’, from abstrudere ‘conceal’, from ab- ‘from’ + trudere ‘to push’.

Pronounced [ab-stroos], the word means difficult to penetrate. It can also be used to describe something that is hard to understand or is obscure. It’s quite a useful word right?

Here’s how you can use Abstruse in a sentence;

  1. Her subject matter is abstruse.

  2. you’re not the only one who finds Einstein’s theory of relativity abstruse.

When next you want to refer to something that is difficult to understand, try using the word ‘Abstruse’ See you next week! 

Every blogger needs to read this

3 ways to get great pictures for your blog

How do you feel when you see bloggers who write posts and get 20 comments, 100 shares and even gets endorsement deals because of their blog. It makes you wonder what you are not doing right.

We saw this quote and we were encouraged and being the great people that we are, we have decided to share. This quote was shared by Darren Rowse.  He said

99.9% of great bloggers are not awesome on day one. Their awesomeness is the accumulation of the value they create over time.”

How profound is that? 

This means that you have no business getting envious of other bloggers and their successes because they have done so much work overtime to get to that point. You can’t be blogging for one month and expect the same results as someone who has been blogging consistently for one year. 

No blogger becomes perfect by writing just one blog post. Perfection and mastery comes from blogging over and over and over again. So if you are feeling depressed as to why you are not seeing results be rest assured that they will come you just have to keep blogging.  The more you blog the better you become at editing posts, creating images and sharing your thoughts. 

We know that there are some people who will argue that they’ve been blogging for a while and still no results. Our advice is this keep blogging your time will come. 

 

Elis Publishing is raising Warrior Writers and Teachers with a Pen

If you are a woman, a Christian, you feel the call to write and publish books, you are totally unaware of how to get started, and how to put pen to paper or you are fearful, unsure whether your message matters, and you are not sure who to turn to? Then you need to attend the Elis Pen-Writers workshop.

Presented by Elis Publishing, the workshop will help you to;

  • Identify and accept your call to write 
  • Deal with the basics of book writing 
  • Learn how to spiritually carry your book and much more. 

Elis Pen-Writers desire to see that the creativity of God is shown forth in His writers (scribes). This workshop is for first time authors, aspiring authors and soon-to-be authors. It aims to encourage, train and equip people as they journey to becoming authors. The following will be dealt with – fear, rejection, finding your voice, understanding your call, knowing your message amongst others.

There will also be practical lessons on discipline, refining your manuscript, preparing your manuscript for editing, figuring the best publishing route for you, how to financially prepare to publish your book and much more!

The workshop will hold at the Shoreditch Platform on Saturday 5th August and it costs £15. 

Now is the time for you to birth that book and spread the message that God has given to you through writing. This workshop is only open to women and there are 30 spaces left.

To register, send an email to info@elispublishing.com. 

#WriterSpotlight – ”I have to win the battle against my thoughts and imaginations. The best way I can is to write.” Adewale Olayemi

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Thursdays on The Sparkle Writer’s Hub are for #WriterSpotlight interviews. Who is ready for today’s interview?  

Our guest today is Olayemi, a poet who believes that writers are one of the most blessed people in the world. You’d find out why in his interview with us. 

Hello Olayemi. Please introduce yourself:

I’m Adewale Olayemi Mudashiru, a writer, poet and a budding author. I am also an undergraduate studying Chemical Engineering at University of Ilorin, Nigeria.

When did you start writing?

I started writing before I could give the meaning of writing, before I actually could say “Oh! Okay, so this is what writing is all about.’ At least I can say now, to some extent, that I understand what writing is all about, unlike then when I was so naive as a child. I can remember then I had a small notebook and I would just write randomly in it with a little touch of art, you know all these childish sketches and sort of.

I started writing officially around December 2016, officially in the sense that I had to upload on Instagram and share on other social media accounts. Actually my first write-up to be posted on Instagram was a eulogy. I lost someone so close then I had to share something on my social media accounts, subsequently other write-ups and poems were uploaded.

Can you tell us what inspired you to write?

Source of inspiration? I just write, the inspiration comes. It keeps coming, anywhere, any day, anytime. Sometimes I have to think like the characters I write about or assume to be in such a scenario which will determine the theme of my poem. Other times, the kind of day I had or activities I see during a typical day inspires me. I wrote a poem tagged “The Cry of an African Child” a while ago. I got the inspiration from a documentary I saw about the dilapidated state of IDPs and the ill-treatment of the children of African descent. In a nut shell, I could simply put the “World” at large is my greatest source of inspiration.

You seem to love words so much you even tagged your Instagram page as the ‘city of words’. Why is this?

Like I said earlier, I don’t have any difficulties with writing, words just keep coming. Words are like the blood that flows in my vein, the air I breath. It’s something I could see even in the dark, something I could feel when I am fast asleep. As a matter of fact I could just probably wake from sleep and the next thing I do is to pick up a pen and start writing. I could be in the midst of my friends having a cheerful discussion before I know it, I would drop lines, beautiful lines involuntarily. I feel like “I am a vessel of words; a warrior word is my lethal weapon; I use it to fight against the demons of thought and imagination”.

In your opinion, how can writers make a difference in the society through their skill?

Writers are actually blessed, blessed with the art of words. I personally feel writers are potters. They mould the world into a beautiful shape with their craft. “If you want to change the world, it starts from your room, pick up your pen and write, just write, write what you feel, how you feel, don’t conceal anything, bare it all”. Your words might probably be the drug someone out there needs to get well. The only way writers can make a difference in the society at large is by divulging their thoughts with beautiful words. This could actually quench the fire consuming a fellow out there.

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We know you are working on your first book. Can you give us a brief on what it is about and why readers should anticipate its release?

I actually have a lot in store, I might probably decide to drop a collection of poems, or an inspirational novel. I am yet to decide on which to drop first, but I think I will stick to the novel. I just have to bridge the stress of engineering with that of converting manuscript into printed copy. Whichever way it is going to be, readers should expect greatness and uniqueness. Greatness in the sense that I have actually put in a lot of work; I write with my body and soul, everything. Uniqueness in the sense that I have my style. My style is my style; it is peculiar to me. I just can’t wait to share this greatness with the world.

People write for different reasons, why do you write?

I write because I have to win the battle against my thoughts and imaginations, and the best way I can is to write. It’s overwhelming! I have to free my mind and soul. There is a need to empty the river of thoughts which flows in my mind via my words. I write because I just can’t stop writing.

Can we do something fun? Fiction, non-fiction or poetry?

Anything, in as much as I would be free of a burden, and it will bless the world.

Reading a good book or listening to great music?

I would prefer reading a good book. I read a lot, hardly go a day without reading. “Readers are leaders” they say and I choose to be nothing else but a great leader. There is joy in being intellectually sound. Music is not bad too, but I am not really a lover of music.

Writing or football?

I am actually a bore when it comes to football. I am not a football type. I don’t have a favourite club and if I am right, it’s been about 4 years since I mindfully saw a football match. Writing, I can’t stop!

What do you love about The Sparkle Writer’s Hub?

Everything, Sparkle Writer’s Hub makes writing even more interesting and gives the zeal to write more. They make it seem like a surmountable task, which in actual sense it should be. But probably because there is lack of motivation, upcoming writers see it as the otherwise. I have screenshots of your daily quotes in my gallery, I read them to feel delight.

What do you love most about writing?

The ability to touch hearts with the craft of words. 

What’s your advice to upcoming writers who are scared to share their talent with the world?

My advice to upcoming writers who are scared to share their talent with the world is that they should overcome their fear and bless the world with their talent, otherwise the blessings in the world would be less their “untapped talent”

What’s your ultimate goal as a writer?

My ultimate goal is to never stop writing, to improve on myself and to bless the world with my writings.

Quote of the Day – Cheap paper is less perishable than gray matter

Do you have a story lurking in your mind? Or a string of words are gradually forming in your sub-conscious? You should write them down. 

Whether on a sheet of paper or on a memo on your electronic device, make it a habit to document your thoughts and ideas. You’ll regret it if you don’t. 

Like the quote above says, keep a notebook or a journal, travel with it, slap into it every stray thought that flutters into your brain. Those stray thoughts might become a bestseller.